By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance - It has been a busy two weeks since our last newsletter for #BlackLivesMatter, seeking climate justice, fair wages and stopping the TPP. We have been doing weekly newsletters since Occupy, last week we missed our first week as we were at the Localize This Action Camp of the Backbone Campaign. The reality of our times and of our history is that truth needs a messenger. Truths, especially difficult ones to face, do not become known on their own. Telling the hard to face truths is where movements begin; spreading that truth creates a national consensus for change and is the source for mobilizations that force essential transformations.
By Paola Casale in Op-Ed News. Next week will be the key votes in the US Senate on Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority. See here on what you can do to stop it. The article below shows the kind of corruption we are up against. It covers the US House of Representatives where a vote was held last week. The vote was 218 in favor of TPA. That is the exact number for a majority in the US House of Representatives (10 did not vote in the House). The battle over TPA has become a conflict between people and money. The people won in the House two weeks ago but than the Republican leadership working with President Obama manipulated the rules for a re-vote. But rather than a re-vote they came up with a scheme to avoid a re-vote on Trade Adjustment Assistance which they lost in the House and stopped TPA from becoming law. They created a convoluted process that now looks on the verge of success that will make it very hard to stop the Obama trade agreements that will dramatically shift power to corporations over the global economy and all levels of US government.
By Kevin Zeese. Washington, DC - Think about this: They write a treaty in secret with corporate interests 'assisting' the Obama administration, rigging the global economy for big business at the expense of people and planet; then they want to have a fast track process through Congress to rig the review of the rigged agreement; now because they lost the vote of fast track they want to rig the re-vote of the rigged fast track review of the rigged corporate trade agreement. Rigging on top of rigging on top of rigging -- and they claim the US is a democracy? Call Congress on www.StopFastTrack.com or call 202-224-3121 and tell them -- no rigged vote, no delay, vote now!
While we all cheered the failure to pass Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) the House was quickly voting to pass Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). This provides several possible scenarios that could result in either position ultimately winning. While much of the media described this as a tremendous victory for those who oppose Fast Track and the Obama trade agenda, in fact we have some difficult challenges ahead. We need to hold the line on TAA to prevent any form of TAA from passing the House and prepare for a vote in the Senate if a new form of TAA passes or if the TPA bill passed in the House goes back to the Senate without TAA. We want our allies in the House to vote no on TAA no matter what kind of amendments are made to the bill. Now that TPA has passed, stopping TAA becomes even more important. The House TPA without TAA would be much more difficult to pass in the Senate. Our goal in the House is for no TAA bill to be passed.
By Staff for Popular Resistance, The House of Representatives is expected to vote on Fast Track legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this Friday. Let’s win this thing: Please call your representative at 888-804-8311 and urge him or her to vote NO on Fast Track. Tell your representatives to vote "no" on both Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). TAA will be the first vote and if it fails fast track will be defeated. This is an inadequately funded program for displaced workers. AFL-CIO and the Teamsters among others are urging its rejection. Not only is it inadequately funded but it does not cover all workers, for example public workers are not covered. All three trade agreements for privatization of public services so not including public workers is a major gap. It TAA is defeated fast track for the TPP is very likely finished as well. Your call is critical.
By Staff for Popular Resistance, Situated between the Capitol Building and the House Office Buildings activists are holding a 24 hour presence to protest trade agreements rigged for the biggest transnational corporations in the world. Popular Resistance, which is part of the Stop Fast Track coalition, organized the Rebellion Against Rigged Trade and has been outside of the Capitol during working hours. With today's announcement that a vote will come on Friday they will now maintain a 24 hour presence. "Elected officials are receiving tens of thousands of calls from constituents opposing fast track trade authority and we want them to see that people opposed to this undemocratic approach to passing laws are so dedicated they will stay outside 24 hours a day. Elected officials need to know the anger of their constituents is deep and that if Members vote for fast track, there will be serious political repercussions. We remember the impact that NAFTA had on elections. The people will not let Congress destroy their rights to protect the health and safety of their communities" said Margaret Flowers, co-director of Popular Resistance.
Ways & Means Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) is pushing to bring his awful Fast Track legislation for a vote in the House very soon. June 3rd will be a national call in day to derail fast track. Please share this email with organizations you are involved with so they can be part of the day of action. Organizations can sign up to participate in the fast track call-in day here. On June 3rd we will send messages to people urging them to call their representatives, i.e. Please call your representative now at 888-804-8311 and urge them to vote NO on Fast Track. People can also call through our coalition website www.StopFastTrack.org. Representative Ryan’s Fast Track bill has already passed in the Senate, and if approved by the House, would allow secretive trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be rushed through Congress, circumventing ordinary review, amendment and debate procedures. We can win. We can stop fast track for rigged corporate deals but to do so we must mobilize everyone we know and work with. We need to create a wall of phone calls into Congress to show them the breadth and depth of opposition to fast track for crony capitalist trade. We need to let them know voters will ensure elected officials who go against the people on this issue will pay a political price with the end of their careers.
The United States and the world are engaged in a great debate about new trade agreements. Such pacts used to be called “free-trade agreements”; in fact, they were managed trade agreements, tailored to corporate interests, largely in the US and the European Union. Today, such deals are more often referred to as “partnerships,”as in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But they are not partnerships of equals: the US effectively dictates the terms. Fortunately, America’s “partners” are becoming increasingly resistant. It is not hard to see why. These agreements go well beyond trade, governing investment and intellectual property as well, imposing fundamental changes to countries’ legal, judicial, and regulatory frameworks, without input or accountability through democratic institutions. Perhaps the most invidious – and most dishonest – part of such agreements concerns investor protection. Of course, investors have to be protected against the risk that rogue governments will seize their property. But that is not what these provisions are about.
After yesterday's stinging defeat, the Democrats and Republicans in the Senate along with President Obama have reached an agreement to move forward with a debate on fast track trade authority. The Hill reports that "Under the agreement, senators will vote on two controversial bills favored by Democrats before moving to a wide-open debate on granting Obama fast-track authority to negotiate future trade deals." The Senate will vote at noon on a customs enforcement bill that includes currency manipulation language and the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which provides duty-free access for sub-Saharan African countries to sell many goods in the United States. These votes will be stand alone bills rather than combined with the fast track bill. At 2:00 the Senate will begin argument on whether to proceed to a full debate of fast track trade authority combined with trade adjustment assistance (TAA) a program to help US workers who lose their jobs because of the trade agreement. House leaders say they will consider fast track after the Senate passes the bill. Everyone agrees that they currently do not have majority support for fast track in the House. The movement's primary responsibility is to keep and build that majority opposing fast track in the House.
Things are rapidly changing on Capitol Hill around fast track trade authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other corporate trade agreements. The article we wrote below, published in MintPress News, was written a few days ago but there are already important updates. The two Committees are very likely to pass the fast track and related bills. They are dominated by those in favor of fast track and "free" trade, then the real battle begins with the full House. The best estimates, as described below, have a majority of the House opposed to fast track, but pressure will be put on Congress by the White House, Republican leadership and mega-corporations so the movement against rigged corporate trade must escalate its actions. A good place to start is Stop Fast Track where you will be directed how to take action. If you are in the DC area sign up to be part of the rapid response team that Popular Resistance has developed
Levin said that by failing to address Democrats' concerns about the deals, Obama and the sponsors of the TPA legislation had dramatically raised the chances that opponents will seek to block the measure. "The administration has essentially given us the power to defeat TPA," Levin said during a discussion with reporters in which he released seven pages of objections to the fast-track legislation that he said had not been addressed. The Michigan Democrat's comments may be of particular concern to the administration because while Levin had previously been critical of the trade negotiations, he had not come out against granting Obama the fast track. That's no longer the case. After Hatch, Wyden and Ryan culminated negotiations with the White House over TPA that excluded Levin and other Democrats, Levin announced his opposition in no uncertain terms. "I'm out to defeat the Hatch-Wyden bill," he said Friday.
Yesterday, Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced a fast track bill that they will be pushing hard to get through the legislative process as quickly as possible. A hearing is planned for next Thursday in the Senate Finance Committee to mark-up the bill and perhaps vote on it. Hatch and Wyden spoke in flowery terms about the bill at a hearing on April 16, 2015 but when all the flowers are removed, not much has changed. The bill is a transfer of constitutional responsibility for trade to the president. The statements were misleading at best and at the announcement people working with Popular Resistance decided we needed to show our opposition. We stood up and turned our back on the committee as US Trade Representative Michael Froman was testifying. We also protested outside of the Dirksen Senate Office building showing our opposition to fast track for rigged corporate trade. One of their talking points is there are nearly 150 congressional objectives in the bill implying this gives Congress a role in setting the direction of the bill. But, the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been negotiated in secret by the Obama administration since 2009 and is nearly complete so how are these 150 objectives going to be met?
The TPP Investment Chapter, published today, is dated 20 January 2015. The document is classified and supposed to be kept secret for four years after the entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement is reached, for four years from the close of the negotiations. The Investment Chapter highlights the intent of the TPP negotiating parties, led by the United States, to increase the power of global corporations by creating a supra-national court, or tribunal, where foreign firms can "sue" states and obtain taxpayer compensation for "expected future profits". These investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals are designed to overrule the national court systems. ISDS tribunals introduce a mechanism by which multinational corporations can force governments to pay compensation if the tribunal states that a country's laws or policies affect the company's claimed future profits. In return, states hope that multinationals will invest more.
Across the country people are rising up against corporate free trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnerhsip (TTIP). Through continuous organizing and creative action we have shown that we have the power to stop the world's largest corporations, to end their assault on our communities, workplaces, democracy, and environment. But we still have a big fight on our hands, the fight of a lifetime, and no one will lead this battle but us. Join us next week as we "Flood Congress" to express our collective disillusionment with the corporate "free trade" agenda. We will gather next Thursday, March 19, at 11:30 AM in the downstairs food court in Union Station (Washington D.C.) for lunch and training before we head to Congress. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can keep in touch with you if details change.
Several major international agreements are under negotiation which would greatly empower multinational corporations and the World Economic Forum is promoting a new model of global governance that creates a hybrid government-corporate structure. Humankind is proceeding on a path to global corporate rule where transnational corporations would not just influence public policy, they would write the policies and vote on them. The power of nation-states and people to determine their futures would be weakened in a system of corporate rule. The Obama administration has been negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) over the past five years, is currently pushing Congress to pass trade promotion authority (known as fast track) which would allow him to sign these agreements before they go to Congress. Then Congress would have a limited time to read thousands of pages of technical legal language, debate the contents and be banned from making amendments.