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Forum Post: Obama’s Free Trade Agreement: Backdoor Deal with Corporate America? By Matthew Kavanagh

Posted 2 years ago on June 14, 2012, 11:41 a.m. EST by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Last week’s State of the Union heralded some of the strongest language yet out of President Obama about the need to reform Wall Street and corporate actions and address income inequality. “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” But actions speak louder than words. And this week, in a $500 a night Beverly Hills Hotel, the Obama administration’s U.S. Trade Representative is gathering in secret with negotiators from around the world for a session that could create a whole new set of international trade rules: rules that favor the wealthy 1% of corporate interests. This leaves many of us in the labor, environment, and AIDS activist communities frustrated and confused. That’s why, this week, activists in and around L.A. are holding a series of events to educate and mobilize the push back. Negotiated away of the public spotlight, the Trans Pacific Free Trade Agreement (TPP for short) would likely be the largest regional free trade agreement the United States has ever seen. Negotiators want new “NAFTA of the Pacific” set of rules for the global economic highway that could eventually include every Pacific Rim nation from Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan to Australia, Canada, Mexico and Russia. And instead of an open, transparent process the text is completely secret to the public while hundreds of corporate lobbyists from the biggest drug companies, job-killing corporations, major global banks, and agribusiness giants have been registered as “advisors” to the process. So what’s at stake? Most of the text is secret, but we’ve had some leaks and we know what certain interests are pushing for. This week in Los Angeles they’re focused on Intellectual Property and later in San Diego they’re tacking other issues. And we know that on the table are plans for: Offshored jobs and lower wages: One of the most crucial issues facing an Asia-Pacific trade pact is the question of labor rights. The Trans-Pacific pact’s labor provisions will play a large role in determining whether jobs at home and human rights abroad are adequately protected, yet we still don’t know for sure how the United States proposes to tackle this issue. The signs, though, point to a deal that would “offshore” manufacturing and service sector jobs, reduce the tax base and put a downward pressure on the wages and benefits in the jobs that are left because of a failure to protect the rights of workers in the agreement.

Wall Street give away: Bankers and traders wants to use the Trans-Pacific FTA to roll back new safeguards many nations have passed to get banks and securities firms under control and restore financial stability. They are proposing to lock in the extreme deregulation that led to the devastating financial crisis.

Restrictions on internet & information freedom: Leaked text would actually make it a criminal act to knowingly receive copyright infringing material or even “aiding or abetting”– sending law enforcement into our homes, internet service providers, and even libraries to search for copyrighted materials. It would also require governments to give “legal incentives” to internet service providers to police the internet–cutting off the free flow of information.

Deadly new powers and higher prices for Big Pharma: Right now Big Pharma wants nothing more than to shut down the follow of totally legal, completely safe generic medications cutting into their profits. Following their lead, the US Trade Representative has proposed the most radical expansion of patents ever included in a trade deal. It would expand what can be patented, make longer patents, and even outlaw the process in many countries that lets the public challenge patents they know to be bogus before they’re granted. For Americans that means higher drug prices in our state and local health programs; for people in developing countries it means death without affordable lifesaving medicines for AIDS and other diseases.

Letting corporations sue the government for profits: U.S. negotiators have led to charge to include the notorious “investor-state” enforcement system. This empowers corporations to go to World Bank and UN foreign tribunals to directly challenge a country’s domestic policies and demand tax payer compensation if they think our safety laws, environmental regulations, or civil/human rights protections undermine their “expected future profits.”

So there is much to worry about. It’s time for us to start pushing back hard. The President and Congress need to recognize that the mood of the American public has changed, and it should abandon any fantasy that something as big and all-encompassing as a Pacific Rim trade deal can somehow be snuck past voters. People simply will not put up any longer with trade policy that forwards the interests of the 1% at the expense of the 99%. If elected officials are serious about changing the power balance in Washington—of building a fairer set of rules for the economy—this is a place to start. No Trans Pacific Free Trade Deal for the 1%. http://www.laprogressive.com/free-trade-agreement/

28 Comments

28 Comments


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[-] 1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 2 years ago

Spread this post like the country depends on it...

[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (4466) 2 years ago

Yes! Enough "New World Order" crap. The fight against this begins now.

[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (4466) 2 years ago

Again, Good post Peter.

More power to be given, to the worst people on earth.

[-] 1 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 2 years ago

Please try and spread this information to as many people as you can. Facebook Twitter or whatever you have at your disposal. We need to raise awareness of this and fight the destruction of the working class

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

they should bring this up at the July GA in Philly)

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

That was confusing. Certainly much to be concerned about! We must make our positions clear. Protest on the street for better working cond, better environmental regs, penalties for offshoring jobs/assets/hq's, rewards for onshoring. internet freedom, and such. This article mentioned that "much of the text" is unseen, and only suggests the these dangers only "could" happen, but I happen to know that the right wing 1% tool US Chamber of commerce, supports the agreement, and I believe it was started by Bush 2 so that is enough for me. In addition I have seen left/progressive groups come out against it so I suppose if the right likes it, and the left hates it, it's probably bad. That is clearly simple but with all the reading of this I've done nothing has been firmly stated. no details are clear. no one has said specifically what they object to. Good luck on the streets.

[-] 2 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 2 years ago

I object to it being done in secret.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Yeah me too. Are you familiar with any details we can point to as objectionable? Do we know if any particular details are finalized?

[-] 1 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 2 years ago

Kind of hard to get details when it is being negotiated in secret.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Oh well. We can assume it is objectional cause the right wing 1% supports it. and the progressive left wing is against it I suppose. Right?

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (27793) from Coon Rapids, MN 2 years ago

This time I think it may be more complicated - yeah the right wing has problems with it - but what problems - Should the people have problems with it as well(?) - don't know - we need more information - that this was done basically in secret does not inspire any confidence.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Well I'm against it. But agree we need more information.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

a vote of no confidence has little consequence

[-] 1 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 2 years ago

I think it is safe to assume anything done behind the backs of the people is not in the best interests of the people.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Yeah, we covered that. Do you disagree with the right/left example I referenced?. Do you not recognize a difference? Do you support the right wing? Would you rather not answer? If so Why?

[-] 1 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 2 years ago

I support the struggles of the common man against social, political, and financial oppression. Common people come from both the left and the right. I may not always agree with conservative values, but there is nothing wrong with being conservative. There is something wrong, however, with one set of rules for the common man and another set for the elitists. Elitism occupies both wings, the rest of us are clutched down below by the claws. Elitism in action displays no regard for the voice of the common man, evidenced by secret deals brokered by the powerful.

[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (4466) 2 years ago

Agree.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Yeah but the left and right are vastly different. no?

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Aaah. So you don't think the common man has been robbed by the policies of the right wing?

[-] 1 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 2 years ago

I am not going to repeat what I have already told you.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Please don't. What specific issues should we address? With what policies? We agree this trade deal is no good. Certainly because it is being done secretly, but for me also because of the threats to workers rights, environmental protection, and corp power. What other issues are you concerned with.? Whats most important to you specifically? And how would we fix it?

[-] 2 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 2 years ago

I'll address the how would we fix it, the rest is nitpicking. The obvious problem is gross inequalities, from which stem all the injustices, between the highest and lowest persons in the world and the obvious solution is to distribute power (social, financial, etc.) more equally. Simple transfer of power from one elite to another elite will not work for obvious reasons. We must continue to shed light on injustice and whittle away at the inequalities. Easier said than done, I know. Vote against the elites, get active on the streets, and help organize things like employee owned businesses where everyone shares the wealth. btw, my vote will be a protest vote against the elites.

[-] 1 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Yeah man! that'll learn 'em! I can't disagree with anything you've posted. Except that "the rest is nitpicking". The issues, problems we face are profound and specific. One for instance. Money in politics. I want it removed! (publicly funded campiagns) Electoral college? Repealed! (one man/woman/lgbt one vote) 435 house members? expand (for better representation) Party primaries? eliminate to break the grip of the party duopoly. (open primaries for all parties) Voter turnout? Too low. mandatory voting for all eligible voters. This is what the elites fear the most. get the common man to vote and we will see all the change we want. Whatta ya think? No good?

[-] 1 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 2 years ago

These issues are interdependent and all stem from inequalities in the rigged system.

Take voter apathy, this seemingly self-inflicted wound really stems from all the other inequalities you pointed out. Why vote in a presidential election when the outcome, due to the electoral college system, will be decided by a few swing states, etc.

Introduce incentives for voting -

the confidence that a vote actually counts for something and participation will rise

as opposed to mandatory voting -

vote for the good party or suffer getting beat about the head and neck for throwing away a vote on putting the evil party in charge

[-] 2 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

LOL. you read my earlier post. Well I suppose I'm willing to try your way but I do think mandatory voting is preferable and more effective.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

mandatory voting should not be enforced through punishment

demand elections be state holidays

Campaign funding miniscule compared to government budget

[-] 2 points by VQkag2 (16478) 2 years ago

Can we beat them about the head and neck?

[-] 0 points by Shule (1696) 2 years ago

I hear ya, but if we the people can't even get our government to stop making wars in the Middle-East, then how are we supposed get the them to stop going through with a deal as nebulous to comprehend as this pacific rim deal.