There is a huge storm hitting the northeast coast, a Nor’easter, that is causing chaos with ground and air transportation. With winds reaching near hurricane force, there are downed trees and power lines. It will be gone tomorrow and the clean up begins. Slowly, everything will return to normal. Too bad that can’t be said …
Tag: free trade
Mar 02 2018
May 08 2015
Wall Street biggest friend in the Senate Charles Schumer doesn’t like the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, not so much for what’s in it but what isn’t, currency controls. Because the secret agreement being negotiated by the Obama administration doesn’t contain a clause that would protect currencies from being manipulated, Sen. Schumer is free to discuss it and why it’s important. In an interview and article at Huffington Post, he goes into the details about his concern and how currency manipulation hurts international trade and manufacturing.
A decade ago, or perhaps a little longer, New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer had an epiphany during a visit to a Crucible Industries steel plant in Syracuse.
His realization has proved enduring, and a decade later, it threatens to derail the grand trade agenda of his fellow Democrat, President Barack Obama.
The lightning bolt that lit up Schumer’s imagination that day was delivered by managers at the specialty steel factory, who complained of a surprisingly simple and profound fact that few people ever consider if they don’t deal in international commodities. Steel fabricators in Schumer’s state were losing sales not because of any failing on their part, but because the government of China was using a trick of the international currency market to keep Chinese manufacturers’ goods as much as one-third cheaper.
The label for the practice is currency manipulation, and Schumer has harped on it ever since — in meetings with business leaders, on the Senate floor, in hearings, and with legislative offerings.
But what exactly is it, and why does does it matter? And why is it so important to many Democrats that if it’s not addressed in the ongoing push for massive new trade pacts, they’re willing to torpedo their own president’s agenda? [..]
The numbers of jobs lost from manipulation, and the flip-side potential gains from ending it, are what make it so important for many lawmakers, on both sides of the aisle. Republicans, such as Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.), have been strong proponents for legislation that would crack down on currency manipulation.
But for Democrats, many of whom support the goals Obama is striving for in his pursuit of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement with 11 Pacific Rim nations, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Europe, currency manipulation is especially important because many suspect Obama will be unable to enforce the stronger labor and environmental standards called for in those trade deals. [..]
But in a sign of just how important currency manipulation is to several countries that would be included Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama administration officials who testified on Capitol Hill last month almost universally warned that passing currency measures would be a trade-deal killer.
Apr 30 2015
President Barack Obama has asked congress to abrogate its constitutional responsibility to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) with little to no debate and no changes or amendments. At this time, the House does not have the votes to pass the fast track bill. He has met with resistance from his own party, going so far as to say that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was spreading misinformation and didn’t know what she was talking about, in other words, lying. In reality, it is the president who is lying to the American public to push a free trade bill, that appears to be worse than NAFTA which has nearly destroyed American manufacturing. Thanks to Wikileaks you can read some of the draft provisions here.
Sen. Warren has been a leader in the fight to stop the fast tracking of TPP, she is now joined by Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) to stop the TPP.
Watch This Democrat Make The Case For Why Obama’s New Free Trade Deal Would Be Awful For America
By Sam Levine, Huffington Post
After President Barack Obama accused critics of his proposed trade deal of being wrong on the facts, one member of Congress released a lengthy video explaining point-by-point why he believes free trade has hurt the United States and why a new deal would be even worse.
After facing vocal criticism from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other Democrats on his trade deal, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama accused the members of his own party of spreading misinformation. In a town hall last week, Obama challenged his critics, saying that he would be happy to debate them on the facts of the deal.
In a nine-minute video, which will be sent out to 1 million members of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee on Thursday morning, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) seems to try to meet that challenge.
Americans are creating tens of millions of jobs in other countries with our purchasing power, and we are losing tens of millions of jobs in our country, because foreigners are not buying as much of our goods and services.
What are they doing? They’re buying our assets. So we lose twice. We lose the jobs, and we are moving further toward national bankruptcy. That is the end game.
Sign the petition to Stop the TPP at Treachery.com
Jan 15 2014
The bill to fast track the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement was introduced last week
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R) and top Senate Finance Committee members Max Baucus (D) and Orrin Hatch (R) on Thursday unveiled the Trade Priorities Act of 2014 that would require a simple up-or-down vote on major trade deals without the opportunity to offer amendments to pertinent bills. [..]
The Obama administration is seeking the heightened authority in trade deals, allowing the Executive Branch to smooth congressional negotiations on accords. The two major deals, both long in the works, that are likely to be subject to such legislation are the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the 28-nation pact with the European Union, the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA). The deals would establish the world’s largest so-called free-trade zones.
The US is also working on a services-trade accord with a group of nations that would encompass half of the global economy. [..]
The bill has been negotiated in secret and other than some leaked passages by WikiLeaks, only the negotiators and insider corporations have seen the full proposal which is nearing completion. There is push back in the House of Representatives that may scuttle the president’s plan to push this agreement without any debate or amendments
Late last year, 151 House Democrats signed a letter opposing the so-called fast track scheme, also known as trade promotion authority. Several House Republicans oppose fast track on the grounds that it excessively empowers the executive branch, but many others, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), support the proposal.
“Obama wants to pass it; Democrats in the House want to oppose it,” said one House Democratic aide, who was granted anonymity due to the sensitivity of the Democratic position. “Republicans are split ideologically, and want to know why they should take one for Obama.”
Nevertheless, Boehner said at a Thursday press conference that he cannot pass the bill without Democratic help. [..]
Many House Democrats are flatly opposed to the TPP and efforts to ease its passage. House Democrats are often more responsive to liberal interest groups than their Senate counterparts, and many members — including some in the Democratic Party leadership — believe that opposing TPP is good for electoral politics in 2014. While supporters of the deal argue it will increase economic growth, similar recent trade deals have undercut some U.S. industries and weakened global labor protections.
“The president has failed to find someone who is willing to introduce the bill. He’s got over 200 members to cultivate from, some of whom would like to have his support in the next election. But Democratic members are extremely skeptical of this,” Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) told HuffPost.
“We’ve tried free trade, and not only has free trade not improved the U.S. economy, it’s gutted manufacturing and driven down our labor standards,” he added, citing NAFTA as a prime example. [..]
Progressive groups came out strongly against the trade promotion authority, suggesting that approving it and the underlying trade deal would undercut efforts to curtail income inequality.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership would be an unmitigated disaster for everything from the environment to Internet freedom and working families,” said Charles Chamberlain, the executive director of Democracy For America, a grassroots progressive organization, which intends to make trade an election-year issue.
In an interview with Huffington Post, political theorist and linguist Noam Chomsky slammed the agreement as a “neo-liberal assault”
(T)he deal, which is not yet finalized, is “designed to carry forward the neoliberal project to maximize profit and domination, and to set the working people in the world in competition with one another so as to lower wages to increase insecurity.”
Chomsky said it was “a joke” that the deal is designated a “free trade” agreement. “It’s called free trade, but that’s just a joke,” Chomsky said. “These are extreme, highly protectionist measures designed to undermine freedom of trade. In fact, much of what’s leaked about the TPP indicates that it’s not about trade at all, it’s about investor rights.”
The MIT professor also slammed the veil of secrecy that has surrounded TPP negotiations. [..]
As Chomsky noted:
“It’s very hard to make anything of the TPP because it’s been kept very secret. A half-secret, I should say. It’s not secret from the hundreds of corporate lawyers and lobbyists who are writing the legislation. To them, it’s perfectly public. They’re, in fact, writing it. It’s being kept secret from the population. Which of course raises obvious questions.”
If you haven’t done it need to tell our representatives to stop the “fast track” of the TPP. Even if you have do it again. Don’t Let Congress Fast-Track TPP.
Jan 08 2014
Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When it comes to free trade agreements the US government fits Einstein’s definition to a tee. Twenty years ago congress passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with expectations that it would improve the working conditions for the poorest workers in southern partner, Mexico. NAFTA is being touted by economists as a great success but for workers, both south and north of the border, NAFTA has been a massive failure (pdf) with hundred of thousands of jobs lost, mass displacement and instability in Mexico and corporate attacks on environmental and health laws. Mexico is NAFTA’s biggest lie.
Currently, the US is in secret negotiations to pass a massive “free trade” agreement with fourteen Pacific Rim nations that would radically change international rules to favor multinational corporations. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been called “NAFTA on Steroids” that could significantly hurt not only workers but their families as well due to watered-down safety provisions when it comes to food and products. It could also drive up prescription drug prices, hurt the environment and reduce Internet freedom. Despite the evidence of the damage that NAFTA has done and breaking his 2008 campaign pledge to oppose such agreements, President Barack Obama is now asking congress to “fast track” passage of TPP which would prevent debate or amendment of the agreement. NAFTA, too, was “fast tracked.” This is just repeating the same mistakes that were made by NAFTA only on a larger scale. In an article at Huffington Post, James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, explains the damage that preventing debate and amendment can bring:
The problem with the TPP is that as it stands, the public doesn’t know what’s in it. Which raises the question how can constituents discuss the proposal with elected officials when they don’t know what they should be concerned about? That, however, seems to be of little consequence to some in Congress.
Congressional committee chairmen who favor free trade have agreed to move forward with considering fast track soon after they return to Capitol Hill this month. They obviously believe they are doing the right thing for America. But is it right that corporations take in all of the gains while hard-working Americans get all of the pain? Is that what this country is really all about?
No one is against trade, just unfair trade. We’ve seen enough lost jobs, shuttered plants and abandoned communities. It’s time to make things in America again. When is the U.S. going to approve an agreement that actually helps its own workers?
Letting people see what is included in the TPP is the first step towards letting them decide which direction the nation should take. The next step is to derail the old fast track and replace it with a process that allows Congress to fully debate the deal and make the TPP work for working families.
The last thing that Americans need is another hit to the working class, we need to tell our representatives to stop the “fast track” of the TPP. End the insanity. Don’t Let Congress Fast-Track TPP.
Dec 11 2010
As far as I know, the very first writer who really nailed Obama was David Sirota, in October, 2007, when he was virtually the only reporter who picked up an item from MSNBC about Obama endorsing FTA-Peru, even though 4,000,000 Peruvian farmers and workers had gone out on a general strike against it, and the “labor and environmental standards” which Obama celebrated were obviously bogus.
And Sirota also reminded dozing progressives and liberals that Obama had been “the keynote speaker at the launch of the Hamilton Project — a Wall Street front group working to drive a wedge between Democrats and organized labor on globalization issues.”
So David Sirota did his due diligence, while the rest of the media recited horse-race trivia from the polls, and here we are.
Oct 31 2010
Much as been said and written about “Creative Destruction” lately — including this good Ad by Russ Feingold, which focuses on the fallout of this Economic policy stance, held by his GOP-Tea Party opponent Ron Johnson:
Well, in a free-market capitalist system, there are always winners and losers. It’s creative destruction. That just happens. It’s unfortunate. But let’s face it, if it weren’t for that we’d still have buggy whip companies.
— Senate candidate Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.)
“Winners and Losers”, Nice.
I suppose with his CEO background Mr Johnson feels qualified to pick them?
May 31 2010
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.”
— U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864
(letter to Col. William F. Elkins)
Ref: The Lincoln Encyclopedia, Archer H. Shaw (Macmillan, 1950, NY)
Bold text added by the diarist
(Note: The authenticity of this quote has been disputed, but I believe it is worthwhile to discuss nonetheless. The link I have provided is my proof of the validity of this quote, but I leave it to you, the reader, to decide.)
Almost 150 years later . . .
More below the fold
Dec 30 2009
Dec 06 2009
Apparently many workers in China would — for how much longer though is not entirely clear. You see the Chinese, want to make more, improve the Standard of Living for their families — just like Americans and Europeans do.
8-12% Raises in Minimum Wages across China, in 2005!?
Apparently, Workers around the World, AREN’T Working just for the Fun of it!
This new trend toward leveling the the Global playing field, doesn’t bode well for the Wal-Marts of the world, who rely on such “captured cheap labor markets” —
to remain quiet, dutiful, and
happy with a pittance.
Afterall Billions of Dollars (and Euros) are at stake — those Foreign Workers must not upset that Apple cart.
They should just be happy they have a Job!
Oct 24 2009
The economic crisis has the country flailing.
That’s not a controversial statement. Since early 2008 the federal government has been trying various, and expensive methods, of jump-starting the economy and propping up the housing market. Since December 2007 the Federal Reserve has created an alphabet soup of programs to stabilize the credit markets.
So far all of these attempts to stabilize the economy have had mixed results at best. Trillions of dollars have been spent and yet the economy is still crippled. Why?
The problem is that the people in charge are asking the wrong question. They are asking, “How do we get back to where we were before this crisis?” The question they should be asking is, “How did this happen?”
Unless we understand what happened and why, we will never be able to fix the economy.
Oct 24 2009
Hundreds of years ago the Incas would sacrifice virgins to appease their Volcano God.
The Gods and methods of sacrifice may have changed, but the tradition remains.
Like the Incas of old, we find ourselves helpless against forces we do not understand. The foundations of our economy shake and falter in terrifying ways.
In our desperation for answers we turn to High Priests of Economics who tell us these evils have befallen us because of our sins. We must sacrifice the innocent to the Volcano God or it will destroy us all.
The High Priests of Economics never explain exactly how these sacrifices will fix the economy, nor do they mention that the sins in question might be their own. Yet we still rush to offer up our children’s futures through unpayable debts while never considering that there might be better alternatives.