Posts Tagged ‘TPP’

The people’s victory over the TPP

November 18, 2016

The defeat of the odious Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement shows that the people can win against entrenched corporate and political power.  The way the TPP was defeated shows how the people can win against entrenched power.

A couple of years ago, the passage of the odious Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement seemed inevitable.

163050_600Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Republican leaders in Congress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and most big newspapers and broadcasters were in favor of it.  The public knew little about it because it was literally classified as secret.   Congress passed fast-track authority, so that it could be pushed through without time for discussion.

Today it is a dead letter.  President Obama has given up his plan to join with Republicans and push it through a lame-duck session of Congress.   Leaders of both parties say there is no chance of getting it through the new Congress.

If you don’t know what the TPP is or why a lot of people think it is odious, don’t feel bad.  If you depend for your information on the largest-circulation daily newspapers or the largest broadcasting networks, you have no way of knowing.

It is in theory a free-trade agreement among the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan and seven other countries.   It is actually a corporate wish list in the form of international law, giving corporations new privileges in the form of patent and copyright protection and new powers to challenge environmental, health and labor laws and regulations.

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The global elite strikes back

July 7, 2016

The common people in Europe, the USA and other countries are starting to revolt against international institutions—the European Union, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund—that represent the interests of an international financial elite.

free-tradeThe financial elite is striking back by promoting international trade agreements—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and the lesser-known Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) involving Canada and the European Union.

All these agreements would enact pro-business policies into international law, and would create tribunals with the power to fine governments for unjustly depriving businesses of expected profits.

Nationalists oppose these agreements because they undermine national sovereignty.   Progressives and liberals oppose these agreements because they are un-democratic.  On this issue, progressives and nationalists are on the same side because, at these moment in history, national governments are the highest level in which democracy exists.

President Obama hopes to get the Republican majority in the lame duck Congress following the November election to enact the TTP Agreement.   The Conservative Party in Britain favors the TTIP, which would subject the UK to a new pr0-business international authority.   CETA would accomplish the same goal for the remaining EU members.

If any of these agreements passes, they can be used to block legislation to protect workers, consumers or public health, or to bring banks and financial institutions under control.

Followers of Bernie Sanders in the USA and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, and progressives in other subject countries, would be stymied until they could figure out a way to roll back the agreements.

None of these agreements is needed in order to have international trade.   Rather their goal is to remove controls on the operations of international corporations.

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Fact-checking President Obama on the TPP

March 4, 2016

Hat tip to my expatriate pen pal Jack

Does Bernie Sanders have a real trade policy?

March 3, 2016
Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is an economic nationalist, like Donald Trump.  But while Trump complains about how other countries are taking advantage of the United States.  Sanders talks about how international corporations are taking advantage of working people (to be sure, with China’s help).

He said he has voted against every trade treaty that came before Congress during his tenure in the House and Senate, and said that, if elected President, he would rescind them all.  Like Trump, he opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

His opposition is fully justified, in my opinion.  The World Trade Treaty, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and similar agreements limit the ability of national governments to regulate foreign corporations, and give these corporations equal standing with supposedly sovereign governments.

These agreements are not what I would call free trade, but Sanders is not for free trade either.  He says he is for “fair trade,” which I take to mean a fair balance of trade with other nations.  Unlike Trump, he does not say anything about imposing new tariffs and restrictions on imports.

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Why is the TPP still a secret?

October 19, 2015

Tom the Dancing BugWhy is the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement still a secret, even though the negotiations are complete?

Why do we the people still depend on WikiLeaks for information on what’s in the agreement?

If opponents of TPP have the wrong idea about what’s in the agreement, why don’t President Obama and the heads of the other 11 governments that negotiated the TPP reveal what’s in it?

The logical answer is that they want to give the public as brief a window of opportunity as possible to examine and discuss the agreement in order to ram it through without adequate public discussion.

President Obama has said that the TPP enables the United States to write the rules of international trade rather than some other country such as China.  What it does is allow international corporations based in the United sttes to write the rules, which is something else.

The American people do not benefit from an agreement that enables American corporations to invest in setting up manufacturing operations in foreign countries, and then importing the products back into the USA.

The Chinese people benefit from being left out of the agreement, because that leaves their government free to pursue the Chinese national interest.

LINK

The Predators Behind the TPP by Karel van Wolferen for The Unz Review.   A good analysis by a distinguished Dutch scholar and journalist.

On the TPP: “We Are Writing the Rules,” says Obama.  Who’s “We?” by Jim Hightower for Buzzflash.

The passing scene – October 16, 2015

October 16, 2015

THE DRONE PAPERS  an eight-part series by The Intercept about the U.S. military’s assassination program, based on a whistle-blower’s secret document.  (Hat tips to Bill Harvey, my expatriate friend Jack, etc.)

droneattackobamaEach week the President of the United States approves a list of death warrants, which are sometimes executed by trained assassins but more usually by flying killer robots.

The United States is at war, we are told, and the targets are our enemies.  But the war has no defined enemy, the battlefield is the whole world, and there is no expectation it will ever end.

Hardly anybody I know thinks this is strange or abnormal.

Snowden: NSA, GCHQ Using Your Phone to Spy on Others (and You) by Peter Van Buren for We Meant Well.

The Fog of Intelligence by Tom Englehardt for TomDispatch.

The size and power of intelligence agencies is huge and growing.  Actual intelligence, not so much.

Hillary Clinton’s Take on Banks Won’t Hold Up by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone (Hat tip to Jack, etc.)

Bernie Won All the Focus Groups and Online Polls, So Why Is the Media Saying Hillary Won the Debate? by Adam Johnson for Alternet.

The Final Leaked TPP Text Is All That We Feared by Jeremy Malcolm for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Reality Check: What We Know About TPP Makes It the Worst Trade Deal Ever by Ben Swann for Truth in Media.

Slave Trafficking, the TPP & the 2016 Presidential Contest by Gaius Publius for Down With Tyranny!

The passing scene – October 10, 2015

October 10, 2015

Excerpts from the works of Nobel winner Svetlana Alexievich by the Associated Press.

Boys In Zinc by Svetlana Alexievich for Granta.   The title refers to the zinc-lined coffins in which bodies of Soviet troops were shipped home from Afghanistan.

Nobel laureate Alexievich on Putin and Soviet trauma for the France24 TV network.  (Hat tip to O)

Svetlana Alexievich captured the psyche – and trauma – of a Soviet people and nation by Elena Gapova for The Conversation.

Svetlana Alexievich

Svetlana Alexievich

I never heard of Svetlana Alexievich until she won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  She is a non-fiction writer from Belarus, which before 1991 was part of the USSR and Russian Empire.

Her theme is said to be the spiritual vacuum left by the fall of Communism.  She seems like a writer worth getting to know about.

The average Russian has a little Red Man inside who longs for the return of a strong, authoritarian ruler, she says; that is the secret of Vladimir Putin’s power and the reason for his aggressive policies.

Game On!  For Abe in Asia by Peter Lee for China Matters.

Peter Lee thinks the Trans Pacific Partnership is part of a U.S. strategy to checkmate China by building up Japanese power and influence in the Pacific region.  Specifically, he thinks Japanese companies could use the TPP to block Chinese infrastructure projects in Vietnam and Malaysia on the grounds that Chinese companies enjoy unfair government subsidies.

Leaked (final?) TPP intellectual property chapter spells doom for free speech online by Corey Doctorow for Boing Boing.

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The passing scene – October 9, 2015

October 9, 2015

Welcome to a New Planet: Climate Change, “Tipping Points” and the Fate of the Earth by Michael T. Klare for TomDispatch.

How the Trans-Pacific Partnership Threatens America’s Recent Manufacturing Resurgence by Alana Semuels for The Atlantic.

Harvard’s prestigious debate team loses to New York prison inmates by Laura Gambino for The Guardian.

10 Stories About Donald Trump You Won’t Believe Are True by Luke McKinney for Cracked.com.  Donald Trump is notable not as a business success, but as a promoter with the ability to distract attention from failure.

Can Community Land Trusts Solve Baltimore’s Homelessness Problem? by Michelle Chen for The Nation.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

The Second Amendment’s Fake History by Robert Parry for Consortium News.  (Hat tip to my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack.)

The Afghan hospital massacre: Snowden makes a brilliant suggestion by Joseph Cannon for Cannonfire.  Why does the United States not release the gunner’s video and audio?

Ask Well: Canned vs. Fresh Fish by Karen Weintraub for the New York Times.  Canned fish is probably better.  (Hat tip to Jack)

Shell Game: There Is No Such Thing as California ‘Native’ Oysters, a book excerpt by Summer Brennan in Scientific American.   The true story behind Jack London and the oyster wars.  (Hat tip to Jack)

What’s new (at least to me) about the TPP

October 8, 2015
tpp-trade-graphic

Click to enlarge.

The Obama administration has moved very shrewdly to deflect some of the main criticisms of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.

  1.  Fast Track is not as fast as I previously thought It is true that once the TPP is submitted to Congress, there will be only 90 days to debate and decide.  But there will be a longer preliminary phase in which to study and discuss the proposed agreement.  I don’t know whether this was true all along and I (along with many others) didn’t realize it, or whether this is something new.  But in any case, the TPP is not necessarily going to be rushed through Congress as quickly as I had previously thought.
  2.   Evidently there will be amendments to address some of the main criticismsFor example, tobacco companies will not be able to use the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism to protest restrictions on cigarette advertising.

But here is the Cato Institute’s timetable for making the agreement public.

Even with the deal “concluded,” the president cannot sign the agreement until 90 days after he officially announces his intention to do so. During that period, there will be intensive consultations between the administration and Congress over the details; the legal text of the agreement will be made available to the public on the internet; the USTR advisory committees will submit their assessments of the deal to Congress; and there will be ample opportunity for informed, robust domestic debate about the deal’s pros and cons.

After the 90-day consultation period, the president can return to the TPP partners with input from Congress, which may or may not warrant modifications to the deal to improve its chances of ratification.

Once the deal is signed, the administration then has a maximum of 60 days to prepare a list of all U.S. laws that will need to be changed on account of TPP; the U.S. International Trade Commission will have a maximum of 105 days to do an analysis of the likely impact of the TPP on the U.S. economy; the congressional trade committees will perform mock markups of the implementing legislation; and, then, the final TPP implementing legislation will be introduced in both chambers.

After the legislation is introduced, the House will have 60 days and the Senate will have 30 days to hold votes. These requirements stem from the Trade Promotion Authority legislation enacted over the summer. If the TPP is going to be ratified by this Congress under this president, the timelines suggest that there isn’t much room for delay.

Source: Cato @ Liberty

Without Fast Track, there would be no deadline at all for voting the TPP up or down, there would be no restriction on amendments, and 60 votes instead of a 51-vote majority would be required for the TPP to clear the Senate.

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The passing scene – October 7, 2015

October 7, 2015

Why Free Markets Make Fools of Us by Cass R. Sunstein for The New York Review of Books.  (Hat tip to my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack)

The TPP has a provision that many will love to hate: ISDS.  What is it, and why does it matter? by Todd Tucker for the Washington Post.  (Hat tip to naked capitalism)

Hillary Clinton says she does not support Trans Pacific Partnership by the PBS Newshour.

Q: Is the Obama Administration Complicit With Slavery? A: Yes by Eric Loomis for Lawyers, Guns and Money.  Slavery in Malaysia is overlooked for the sake of the TPP.

Houston is a lot more tolerant of immigrants than Copenhagen is on Science Codex.  (Hat tip to Jack)

Science Saves: The Young Iraqis Promoting Evolutionary Theory and Rational Thought to Save Iraq by Marwan Jabbar for Niqash: briefings from inside and across Iraq.  (Hat tip to Informed Comment)

The Amazing Inner Lives of Animals by Tim Flannery for The New York Review of Books.  (Hat tip to Jack)

Is the chilli pepper friend or foe? by William Kremer for BBC World Service.  (Hat tip to Jack)

The passing scene – October 6, 2015

October 6, 2015

TPP: It’s Not a Deal, It’s Not a Trade Deal and It’s Not a Done Deal by Lambert Strether for naked capitalism.

Alabama Makes Photo IDs Mandatory for Voting, Then Shutters DMV Offices in Black Counties by Andrea Germano for Common Dreams.

It’s more dangerous to be black than to be a cop by Peter Moskos for Cop in the Hood.  Literally!

Saudi Arabia and the price of royal impunity by Richard Falk for Middle East Eye.  (Hat tip to my expatriate friend Jack)

Burundi’s solar plans forge ahead despite political unrest by David Smith for The Guardian.  (Hat tip to Jack)

The Radically Changing Story of the U.S. Airstrike on Afghan Hospital: From Mistake to Justification by Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept.

CNN and the NYT Are Deliberately Obscuring Who Perpetrated the Afghan Hospital Attack by Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept.  (Hat tip to Jack)

A story of hope: the Guardian launches phase II of its climate change campaign by James Randerson for The Guardian (Hat tip to Hal Bauer).

Bad news: 12 nations’ negotiators agree on TPP

October 5, 2015

TPP_map-31Negotiators for 12 Pacific Rim nations—the USA, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Peru and Chile—have finalized a Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.

Now it remains to be seen if the legislative bodies of these nations will ratify the agreement.  President Obama has persuaded Congress to adopt a fast-track procedure for the decision-making process, which means that it will have three months from the time the lengthy and  complicated text is submitted to vote it up or down.

My understanding is that if only two nations ratify the agreement—say, the USA and Vietnam—it will be binding on those two.  Even if legislative bodies of major nations such as Japan, Canada or Australia reject the TPP, it won’t matter to Americans if the U.S. Congress approves it.

I don’t know the specifics of what’s been agreed to, but the leaked preliminary versions of the agreement show that it is a corporate wish list to be given the force of international law.  The TPP undermines national sovereignty and overrides democracy.

LINKS

TPP Finalized by David Nakamura for The Washington Post.  (Hat tip to my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack)

Trans-Pacific trade deal faces test in US Congress by Agence France Presse.

Sanders Condemns ‘Disastrous’ TPP as Ministers Seal Deal for Corporate Elite by Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams.

Can Donald Trump Sink the TPP? by Kevin Drum for Mother Jones.

Here’s Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Is Just Plain Wrong by Robert Reich.

Barack Obama, a master of geopolitics?

September 16, 2015

Many of my Democratic friends think of Barack Obama as a well-meaning but naive and weak reformer.  I think of President Obama as a shrewd and strong defender of the status quo.

Alfred McCoy wrote a good article for TomDispatch arguing that this is just as true of his foreign policy as his domestic policy.

The greatest threat to American world power is the rise of China.  While the USA is dissipating its power through failed military interventions. China is extending its power by economic policies that add to its economic strength.

Obama hopes to counter China by leveraging American economic power through the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which will create a global trade bloc from which China and also Russia will be locked out.

The question is how long this will be feasible.  China’s economic power is growing.  American economic power is a legacy from the past.

President Obama has been using America’s status as the planet’s number one consumer nation to create a new version of dollar diplomacy.

His strategy is aimed at drawing China’s Eurasian trading partners back into Washington’s orbit.

china_central_asia_infrastructure_large

While Beijing has been moving to bring parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe into a unified “world island” with China at its epicenter, Obama has countered with a bold geopolitics that would trisect that vast land mass by redirecting its trade towards the United States.

During the post-9/11 decade when Washington was spilling its blood and treasure onto desert sands, Beijing was investing its trillions of dollars of surplus from trade with the U.S. in plans for the economic integration of the vast Eurasian land mass.

In the process, it has already built or is building an elaborate infrastructure of high-speed, high-volume railroads and oil and natural gas pipelines across the vast breadth of what Sir Halford Mackinder once dubbed the “world island.”  [snip]

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The passing scene – August 14, 2015

August 14, 2015

Will Trans Pacific trade deal go up in smoke over anti-tobacco proposal? by Adam Beshudi for POLITICO.

The latest word is that Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiators have agreed to exclude the tobacco industry from provisions giving corporations the right to sue governments before private tribunals.  Tobacco companies have successfully sued countries under other trade agreements over restrictions on cigarette sales and advertising.  This is a deal-killer for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and others from tobacco-growing states.

Torturing Chelsea Manning in Prison by Stephen Lendman for Counterpunch.

The imprisoned whistle-blower is being repeatedly put in indefinite solitary confinement.  His offenses include using a tube of toothpaste past its expiration date.

The 10 Trump Rules by Barry Lefsetz for The Big Picture.

Donald Trump understands how American politics has changed, and the other candidates don’t.

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Pro-TPP companies, groups bankroll Clinton

August 7, 2015

CLQEBW4XAAAMhhvSource: LittleSis.

Hillary Clinton in her book, Hard Choices, endorsed the Trans Pacific Partnership.  If she makes any statements appearing to back off from that position, I’d read them like a lawyer looking for loopholes.

She’s been paid more than $2.5 million—actually, more than $2.7 million—in speaking fees by companies and organizations that lobby in favor of the TPP.

Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, two other Democratic candidates for President, are opposed to the TPP, as are Republican candidates Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump.

Republicans Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Perry support the TPP.

I think the TPP is a terrible idea because, based on information now available, it appears to lock in a corporate wish-list as international law.  International corporations, but no other entities, would have the right to appeal to a special tribunal against laws they deem unfair, and the tribunal would have authority to fine governments for allegedly unfair laws.

At the very least Congress should have time to discuss and debate it fully rather than having it rushed through on fast track.

LINKS

Groups lobbying on trade paid Hillary Clinton $2.5 million in speaking fees by Julianna Goldman for CBS News.

TPP Agreement: Where Do 2016 Presidential Candidates Stand on the Trans Pacific Partnership? by Howard Koplowitz for International Business Times.

Donald Trump slams Pacific free trade deal by CNN Money.  Trump appears to be right for wrong reasons.  Like some TPP supporters, he talks as if the TPP is mainly about free trade.

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The passing scene – August 6, 2015

August 6, 2015

I may add links during the day.  Feel free to use the comment thread for general and off-topic comments.

The Suicide of the American Left by John Michael Greer for The Archdruid Report.

John Michael Greer recalled a time when there were Democrats who fought for the interests of famers and factory workers against financial speculators, and Republicans who fought against foreign military intervention and excessive government power.   Now both parties are pro-corporations and pro-government power.

Hillary Clinton is an example of what’s wrong with liberals and progressives, Greer wrote.  She thinks that all she has to do to be elected President is talk about how bad the Republicans are.

Dear NYT: When the GOP Is Your Assignment Editor, You Miss Real Stories by Mike the Mad Biologist.

Seriously, what has happened to the NYT? by Joseph Cannon for Cannonfire.

HIllary Clinton

HIllary Clinton

While there is much in Hillary Clinton’s record to criticize, the Washington press corps does not focus on these things.  Instead it subjects her to a constant stream of attacks based on falsehoods, trivialities or, at best, controversies that involve grey areas.

My explanation is that all the legitimate grounds for attacking Hillary Clinton apply at least as much and probably more to her Republican opponents.  The only reasons for singling her out are bogus ones.  That applies to Barack Obama as well.

Donald Trump Is a Serious Candidate by Jeet Heer of The New Republic.

Koch Brothers Declare War on Donald Trump by Shannon Argueta for Addicting Info.

Donald Trump talked politics with Bill Clinton weeks before launching 2016 bid by Robert Costa and Anne Gearan for The Washington Post.  [Hat tip to Unqualified Offerings]

It’s hard for the other Republican candidates to oppose Donald Trump because he is just like them or at least just like they pretend to be, only more so.  I can see why Hillary Clinton would rather run against him than against Jeb Bush.

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The passing scene – August 4, 2015

August 4, 2015

These are links to interesting articles I came across yesterday and today.  I may add links during the day.   The comment thread is available for general and off-topic comments.

If This Is Munich, We Must Be Germany by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.

In the Iran nuclear negotiations, it has been the United States that has done all the demanding and Iran that has done all the appeasing.

A Company Copes With Backlash Against the Raise that Roared by Patricia Cohen for the New York Times.

239 Years Ago, Adam Smith Predicted Fury of Seattle Business at CEO Who Pays Workers Well by Jon Schwartz for The Intercept.

Dan Price, the CEO of a small credit card processing firm called Gravity Payments, announced that he will raise the minimum  salary of his firm to $70,000 a year over a period of three years while reducing his own compensation.

Many of his peers and business customers are infuriated, illustrating what Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations in 1776:Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform, combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual rate.  To violate this combination is everywhere a most unpopular action …”

Coffee in crisis: The bitter end for our favorite drink? by David Robson for the BBC.

The world’s coffee crop is threatened by drought, flooding and plagues of pests, caused by climate change, and by the vulnerability of the Arabica variety of coffee to disease and to changes in climate.

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There are more TPPs in the pipeline

July 1, 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is just the beginning.

POLITICO reported that four more trade agreements are now being negotiated.

Following Congress’ hard-fought approval of “fast-track” trade authority last week, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman vowed not only to complete the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership but an even bigger pact with the European Union and three other major trade deals — all in the 18 months remaining in President Barack Obama’s term.

It could add up to the biggest trade blitz in history, transforming the rules under which the world does business.

sw0625cd_590_356“We’ve got a lot of pots on the stove,” Froman told POLITICO while watching senators cast their final votes to send the legislation to the president. We want to get TPP done and through Congress. We want to get TTIP negotiated. We’re going to finish ITA. I’m hoping to finish EGA and TISA.”

Those would be, in order: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement with the European Union, an even bigger pact than the TPP in terms of economic size; the World Trade Organization’s Information Technology Agreement, which covers about 97 percent of world IT trade; the Environmental Goods Agreement, accounting for 86 percent international commerce in green goods; and the 24-party Trade in International Services Agreement, which involves three-quarters of the United States’ gross domestic product and two-thirds of the world’s services, such as banking and communications.

via POLITICO.

I’d heard of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), but not the Information Technology Agreement or the Environmental Goods Agreement until now.

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What law says the TPP text is a secret?

June 24, 2015

It seems like a case of mass hypnosis. People claiming they can’t say what’s in the TPP trade agreement. And mainstream media accept this premise.

“That’s right. Congress must stay silent.”

Pop quiz: who says the text of the TPP must remain secret?

Under what authority?

Tom the Dancing BugMembers of Congress are scuttling around like weasels, claiming they can’t disclose what’s in this far-reaching, 12-nation trade treaty.

They can go into a sealed room and read a draft, but they can’t copy pages, and they can’t tell the public what they just read.

Why not?

If there is a US law forbidding disclosure, name the law.

Can you recall anything in the Constitution that establishes secret treaties?

Is there a prior treaty that states the text of all treaties can be hidden from the people?

I see no authority anywhere that justifies withholding the text of the TPP.

Government legislators in the other 11 nations: why can’t you reveal what’s in the TPP?

Mass silence around the world. “Sorry, we can’t say what’s in the treaty. We’ll vote on it, but you the people have no input. You have to take what we do on faith.”

Who says so? By what authority?

If a US Senator held a press conference today and explained everything he read in that sealed room about the TPP, what exactly would happen to him? Would he be arrested?

Would he be charged with a federal crime?

What crime?

via Jon Rappoport’s Blog.

Chinese vs. American trade agreements

June 18, 2015

china-watch-map_3281019b

U.S. rivalry with China should be mainly economic, not military.   The threat to us Americans is that we shall continue to allow the hollowing out of our manufacturing industry while China grows ever more powerful.

China offers the world the chance to invest in its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which may or may not amount to anything, but potentially could help all its partners achieve their economic goals.

The US government is trying to pressure the world into joining the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement, which would require them to give up national sovereignty so that multinational corporations could operate with greater freedom.

President Obama has said that it is important that “we” rather than China get to write the rules for the international economy.  I don’t feel included in that “we”.   I think the “we” who will write the rules are the big international banks and other corporations, not us Americans.

There’s an old saying that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  Right now the Chinese government is offering honey while the U.S. government is trying to force its allies to swallow vinegar.

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Economists, free trade and the TPP

June 12, 2015

Free-Trade-pg1-copyA writer named Michael Goodwin and an illustrator named Dan E. Burr have come up with a clear and complete explanation of the problems with free trade in general and the Trans Pacific Partnership in particular.  Click on Economix Comix to read it.

More toxic trade agreements are in the pipeline

June 11, 2015
Negotiators of Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Scope of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Negotiators of Trade in Services Agreement

Scope of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Negotiators of Trade in Services Agreement

Scope of the proposed Trade in Services Agreement

If Congress approves the Trade Promotion Authority, aka Fast Track, it will grease the way not only for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but for two other toxic trade agreements now in the pipeline—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is basically the same as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, except that it covers a different set of countries.

The Trade in Services Agreement is mainly about deregulation of financial services, but it also has a section on “movement of natural persons.”  In other words, TISA would cover immigrationtemporary visas for specialized workers, according to a draft released by Wikileaks.

Notice which countries are not in any of the three proposed agreements.  The BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—would retain sovereignty over their economies after United States, the European Union and their satellites give them up.

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At last the AFL-CIO plays hardball on TPP

June 11, 2015

.

The AFL-CIO is withholding support from congressional representatives until it sees how they vote on the Trade Promotion Authority and Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

The TPP is an anti-labor international agreement, and the TPA, also known as Fast Track, is a procedure for pushing it through with limited time for debate.

Good!  It’s about time that organized labor stop supporting politicians that don’t vote in the interests of working people—even if such politicians are supposedly a lesser evil.

LINKS

Democrats Frustrated by Unions’ Cash Freeze Over Fast Track by Emily Cahn and Emma Dumain for Roll Call.

AFL-CIO Says Labor Has Been Blocked from Trans Pacific Partnership Debate by Marc Daalder for In These Times.

Who said Obama isn’t a strong leader?

June 11, 2015

Anybody who said that Barack Obama is a weak leader must eat their words in the light of the way he is pushing the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement through Congress.

Likewise those who said he is incapable of working with the Republican leaders in Congress.

Barack ObamaI think people mistook his character because they mistook his priorities.  The President is a tough fighter for things that matter to him.

It is just that issues such as closing Guantanamo Bay or defending Social Security were not among his top priorities.  The TPP and the Trade Promotion Authority, aka Fast Track, are.

The TPP is supposedly a trade agreement, but based on what’s been leaked out about it so far, that’s not what it is.

It creates new international law that limits the power of sovereign governments to enact laws and regulations to protect public health, the environment and the well-being of their citizens/

And it sets up a mechanism by which corporations can have governments penalized if a tribunal rules that laws and regulations deny them their just profits.

Corporate executives say they will invest more confidently in countries if they have assurance that they won’t be subject to onerous laws and regulations and if they can have recourse to a special tribunal if national governments impose laws and regulations they think are unfair.  No doubt!

That doesn’t mean that no investment will take place if they don’t get all these special protections.

My idea of a free trade agreement is an agreement among nations to lower tariffs and import quotas so that people within those countries can freely exchange goods and services.  Most such barriers were eliminated years ago.  That’s why almost everything you pick up in an American department store is labeled “Made in Vietnam” or “Made in Korea” or “Made in Bangladesh”.

Eliminating restrictions on currency manipulation, or demanding privatization of public services, is very different.   This is a way of shifting governance from national governments to international corporations.

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Dems support politicians they don’t believe

June 10, 2015

One oddity of American political life is the voter who support Democratic candidates because he or she doesn’t believe their campaign rhetoric.

I encountered this in 1992 when I talked to a United Auto Workers leader who was working to elect Bill Clinton for President because he was convinced that Clinton didn’t mean what he said about the North American Free Trade Agreement.

True, the UAW guy said, Bill Clinton said he’s for NAFTA, but he also said he is for a lot of other things, such as treaty protection of labor and environmental rights, that would negate NAFTA.  So in effect, his reasoning went, Clinton is really against NAFTA.

But Clinton betrayed him.  He pushed NAFTA though, just as he said he would.  The part he wasn’t serious about was the protection of the labor and environmental rights.

I saw the same thing among supporters of President Obama.  Every time Obama would do something such as offering to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a budget-balancing deal, they would say this is something he “had to” do.

Really?  “Had to”?  Did somebody like the Luca Brazzi character in The Godfather put a pistol to his head and make him an offer he couldn’t refuse?

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Now we have the same thing with Hillary Clinton, but with a twist.  She is trying to steal Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’ thunder by talking about economic inequality, while signaling that she doesn’t really mean it to the Wall Street figures, who have made her rich by paying her six-figure fees to give speeches.

It will be interesting to see where Clinton comes down on the Trans Pacific Partnership.  She historically has supported trade agreements and in her 2014 book called the TPP the “gold standard” for such agreements.  Now she declines to take a clear stand.

A lot of the political commentary describes her “dilemma” over the TPP—the dilemma consisting of the politics of the TPP, not the merits of the agreement.

If she were to come out strongly against the TPP when her opposition might have some effect in defeating it, I would give her credit for a sincere change of heart.  I don’t expect this to happen, but I would be pleased to be proved wrong.  Otherwise I will view Clinton’s campaign rhetoric with the same skepticism that is being asked of her Wall Street supporters.

I don’t think this happens so much in the Republican Party because there is less of a disparity in the Republican Party between what’s said to the voters and to the financial backers.

LINKS

Hillary Clinton Traces Friendly Path, Troubling Party by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman for the New York Times.

In Classic Clintonian Fashion, Dems Insult Their Own Voters by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Is Clinton Still Down With TPP? by Freedom Partners.