The trade agreements currently being negotiated by the Obama Administration are potentially enormously important in their possible impact on the United States. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being negotiated by 12 Asian-Pacific nations, and, if agreed to by Congress could be expanded in membership later on under the President's sole authority. Read more about Declarations of Dependence: A New e-Book on the Neoliberal Nation-Subjugating “Trade Deals”
TPP: 13 Democratic Senators Invite Republicans to Make Them Laughing Stocks and More Serious Matters
The cloture vote in the Senate is now done, making the TPA vote itself a mere formality. The vote was 60 – 37 in favor of cloture with 13 of the 14 original Democratic defectors (Ben Cardin was the exception) sticking with the multinational corporations, the President, and all but five of the Republicans in supporting cloture. Supporters of cloture celebrated the bipartisan nature of the vote, as if Americans who lose their jobs and their sovereignty as a consequence of it, and the things it enables, will look more favorably on what they did because both major parties did it. Read more about TPP: 13 Democratic Senators Invite Republicans to Make Them Laughing Stocks and More Serious Matters
– Step one: the House passes a TPA bill without passing Trade Adjustments Assistance (TAA); then
– Step two: the Republicans in the Senate give assurances to Senate Democrats that TAA will be passed by the Senate and later the House;
– Step three: the Senate then passes the House's TPA bill, and then sends it to the President; then Read more about TPP: Will Voters Re-elect Laughing Stocks to the Senate?
Well, that didn't take too long. The wonks in White House, the Republican Leadership. And the “free trade” Democrats, have hatched another devious process for passing the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill. It has the following steps
– Step one: the House passes a TPA bill without passing Trade Adjustments Assistance (TAA); then
– Step two: the Republicans in the Senate give assurances to Senate Democrats that TAA will be passed by the Senate and later the House; Read more about TPP: Fast –Track Is Back: Shall It Pass?
The roll call 126-302 vote (Roll call 361) defeating the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill was a result worth a little celebrating on Friday, since it was a very decisive victory on that particular vote, and also stopped the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) fast track bill from being sent to the President's desk for signature. If the vote on TAA hadn't failed, it would have been far more difficult (I don't say impossible as many do) to defeat all manner of “free trade” agreements (aka multinational sovereignty agreements), including the currently scheduled Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services (TiSA) agreements over the next year or so.
Everything we know about these agreements is that they would have been a disaster for all but an extremely small segment of the people of the United States. So, we ought to be overjoyed that, for now, fast-track is stalled in the House, and may get pigeon-holed there for quite some time to come, if the re-vote on TAA fails. Still as Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, and Bill Black say in their recent posts, this stall may be short-lived if we don't keep up the pressure and make sure that the Republicans and Democrats in Congress, along with the President are, unsuccessful in reversing Friday's vote on the TAA. Read more about TPP: Fast –Track, the Next Rounds In Congress
There are 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats in the House. Republicans, led by John Boehner and Paul Ryan, say they are confident about having enough votes to hold a successful floor vote on Friday, June 12th.. However, Politico reports that Republican sources are saying they will get anywhere from 180 – 200 votes for fast-track, which doesn't sound very different from their at least 190 vote estimate as of June 3rd.
So, that leaves anywhere from 46 – 66 Republican opponents of the legislation. The top of this range is very near the maximum of 57 Republicans that TPP opponents have previously estimated could vote against it, except that on the high side it acknowledges the possibility that Republicans may have lost ground compared to a week ago.
Last week, also, supporters of the bill reportedly could not count on more than 17 Democrats to vote for it, and no more than 20 after all the maneuvering and politicking has occurred. Today, the number of committed TPP Democrats seems to be 20, with the recent addition of Don Beyer (D-VA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), and Jim Himes (D-CT). So, it appears not much progress has been made toward the 218 votes required to carry the fast-track authority in spite of all the activity and much posturing from the pro-TPP forces. Read more about Fast -Track: It Looks Like It's In Pelosi's Lap or Maybe Not!
This is another in a series on Democratic Representatives who recently decided that pleasing their President, and their minority leader in the House, and protecting the expectations of potential profits of multinational corporations, was more important than protecting democracy, national, state, and local sovereignty, American Jobs, the environment, the climate, the capability to regulate corporate behavior for the public good, and net neutrality, among may other valuable things. In my previous posts I covered the statements of Don Beyer, Democrat of Virginia's 8th District and then Kathleen Rice, Democrat of New York's 4th.
This time the focus of my attention will be Jim Himes (D-CT) who represents the 4th Congressional District in Connecticut. I'll be doing a point-by-point critique of his reasons for announcing his support of the TPP. Read more about TPP: Jim Himes (D-CT), Another Putting “Free Trade” Above National Sovereignty and Democracy
TPP: Kathleen Rice (D-NY) Is the Latest to Put “Free Trade” Above National Sovereignty and Democracy
I blogged a critique of Don Beyer, Democratic Representative in the Virginia 8th Congressional District to protest his announcement of support for the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill followed by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) legislation. This past Saturday, Kathleen Rice (D-NY, 4th Congressional District) became the latest to join President Obama's effort to elevate corporations above the people through the TPA, followed by the TPP legislation, and, he hopes the passage later on of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). This post is my reply to Congressman Rice's justification, in talking point/response format, for joining the pro- fast track-TPP forces. Read more about TPP: Kathleen Rice (D-NY) Is the Latest to Put “Free Trade” Above National Sovereignty and Democracy
Recently, my wife, Bonnie, sent an e-mail to Don Beyer, our Democratic Representative in the Virginia 8th Congressional District to express her opinion opposing fast-track/TPP and to tell him that she wanted him to vote against it in Congress. In reply, she received a form e-mail which was non-responsive to hers, but also stated his support for all four trade bills and his talking points on the subject.
Congressman Beyer's e-mail made her angry and she asked that since I'm the writer in the family, I write a reply from both of us for him. Since drafting this reply, I've learned that Don Beyer has announced his support for fast-track in a statement on his web site. Below is our reply to him, in talking point/response format, sometimes cast in the first person, for his consideration, and anyone else's who is interested in “free trade” agreements. Read more about TPP: Don Beyer (D-VA) Puts “Free Trade” Above National Sovereignty and Democracy
The Republicans and the Administration still can't count on the 217 votes needed to pass Fast-Track, according to Politico. There are 245 Republicans and 188 Democrats in the House. Republicans are now “feeling new found optimism that at least 190 of their lawmakers” will support fast-track. So, that leaves 55 Republican opponents. Very near the maximum of 57 that TPP opponents have estimated could vote against it. Read more about TPP: State of Play in the House
This one is for the Finance Minister of Canada, Joe Oliver. He erroneously claims that the Volcker rule, implemented as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, violates The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed into law on December 8, 1993.
Oliver says that the Volcker Rule prohibits US banks from trading AAA rated Canadian Government debt thereby violating free trade under NAFTA. The US government has denied any such violation.
I think the US Government has the better of this one. And it's interesting to consider why this is true.
According to our fundamental legal document, the Constitution of the United States, NAFTA isn't a treaty concluded by the United States with Canada and Mexico. Instead it is what is known as a Congressional-Executive Agreement (CEA). The difference between such an agreement and a treaty, is that a CEA requires presidential approval and plurality votes in both Houses of Congress legislating the agreement; while a treaty requires presidential submission of a negotiated agreement to the Senate for ratification by 2/3 of that body.
Another difference is that a treaty takes precedence over mere laws. It is subordinate only to the provisions of the Constitution itself. In contrast, Congressional-Executive Agreements have no explicit status in the Constitution and amount to no more than new legislation passing the Congress and signed by the President, superceding previous laws when in conflict with them, and being superceded by laws conflicting with them that are passed after the Congressional-Executive Agreement was. Read more about The Volcker Rule Doesn't Violate NAFTA
In a previous post, I discussed the likelihood that the Fast-Track bill, if it passed the House, would need to return to the Senate again to align the different bills produced by the two Houses. I focused on the importance of Fast-Track/TPP opponents preparing for that return by building the opposition into a movement exerting continuous pressure on Senators to expand the size of the opposition to the bill in both parties.
I also pointed out that an emerging movement should be emphasizing the governance impact of Fast-Track/TPP on national, state, and local sovereignty, separation of powers, consent of the governed and democracy, more than the many other TPP issues that have emerged. In my view, the governance issues are the winning issues against the Fast-Track/TPP initiative for a number of reasons.
This is so because they cut against the beliefs that 1) the people, ought in the final analysis to rule; 2) the independence of the United States is, above all, to be treasured and ought not to be subordinated to corporations and big money; and 3) the United States is an exceptional nation, in part because its governance institutions, with all their warts are still superior to all others on earth. Read more about TPP: Call 'Em Out In the House, Now!
Thomas Palley recently blogged a post that was cross-posted at Naked Capitalism where I read it. In it, he discussed the question of whether Hillary Clinton's apparent intention to run as a progressive in 2016 represents a sincere change in her views, or whether it is just a political communications strategy to please the progressive base of the Democratic Party.
In his analysis, Palley points to Clinton's failure to answer questions of journalists and to be pinned down to specifics on policy questions. He also points to the fact that the economic advisers who are central to Clintonworld still include Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Peter Orszag, and, I think, he reasonably could have added Gene Sperling and Jack Lew, who are still serving President Obama, but who were two of Bill Clinton's mainstays. These economists, and others associated with the Clintons had a hand in all the economic policy failures of the past 20 years, and continues with this money quote: Read more about Is Progressivism in the Eye of the Beholder?
So, on May 22, the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) (“Fast Track”) Bill passed the Senate 62 – 37, with 14 Democrats defecting to the pro-Fast TracK/Trade-Pacific Partnership (TPP) forces. However, all was not wine and roses for the Administration and Fast Track/TPP proponents in the Senate.
First, the pro-TPP forces sustained a temporary defeat on May 12, when the Senate would not approve debating Fast Track, introducing delay into the process. The problem was quickly fixed with agreements to consider and vote on related issues such as Trade Adjustment Assistance, forced child labor, and currency manipulation outside of Fast Track. But nevertheless the glitch was unanticipated, and looked bad for an Administration wanting clear sailing in the Senate for Fast Track. Read more about Get Ready to Call 'Em Out On the TPP!
If the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement will, if implemented, and as I've argued elsewhere, result in the death of national and state sovereignty, constitutional separation of powers, and democracy, then what system and what principles will replace these things? Read more about TPP: The Fascism Issue