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Fast Track

Thu, Apr 16, 2015

HCCN


Larry Dansinger wrote, On 4/16/15 6:26 PM: > Please pass along to others in your group or area. Thanks, and apologize > for short notice on this. > >> Rally for Fair Trade >> April 18, 2015 3 PM South Side of the Maine State Capitol Building >> *NO to Fast Track Trade Authority, TPP, TAFTA, TTIP, etc.* FWIW, this is an op-ed that I wrote for the MDIslander, published a couple of weeks ago: ———————————————————————- Op-ed: The Trans-Pacific Partnership — Bad for Maine, big mistake for the country Coming soon to you: the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” trade agreement (TPP). It will affect you because (among other things) it enables any corporation in one of its participating countries to sue any participating-country government — national, state or local — whose action the corporation says has hurt its investments or profits. It doesn’t matter if that government action is for your benefit or your welfare as a consumer or as a citizen or as a small business. You as a tax-payer can end up paying for the suit and/or losing the benefit. The TPP is often called “NAFTA on steroids,” referring to the earlier “North American Free Trade Agreement.” That “job-creating” agreement drained 700,000 decent-paying jobs from the U.S., and created the conditions in Mexico and Central America that ballooned the migration of “illegal aliens.” The negotiations on the TPP among (now) twelve countries in North and South America and Asia have been going on since 2005. But before the present year, and perhaps even now, almost no Americans knew this was happening. That’s no accident. The negotiations have been held totally in secret — from the public. They are classified, secret even from Congress, at least until very recently. But not secret from Corporate America. In 2014, there were 566 advisory group members with input into the negotiations, 480 of whom represented industry groups or trade associations. The only peek inside the TPP that the general public has had has been from a few unauthorized leaks. Not to worry? The President, who is pushing the TPP, has said he will never let consumers down. So why all the secrecy? And why is he now, as we speak, pushing Congress to pass it virtually sight unseen? The answer is that the TPP is not about public benefit — or even about strictly about trade. Leaks indicate that only a few of its chapters have to do with trade. The rest is about corporate profits and power. The large financial, energy, electronics and other industries pushing the TPP — and having input into it — are looking out for their profits, not for jobs or consumer benefits or public health and wellbeing, or even Constitutional democracy. The provision mentioned earlier, which enables corporations to sue governments, involves Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS). If a company claims that a decision made by a government — national/state/local, a law, a rule, a regulation, whatever — in any way harms its profits, it can sue that government for whatever profits it claims to be losing. The ISDS provision says it addresses the problem of “expropriating or nationalizing a covered investment either directly or indirectly.” But the TPP’s definition of “investment” and the scope of the term “indirectly” are so broad that “expropriate” can easily come to apply to simply reforming regulations. And these disputes are argued under corporate-favorable rules in unaccountable international tribunals set up by the U.N. or World Bank. ISDS has existed in earlier trade agreements, but never with such potentially large opponents as we would face in the TPP. Here are a few examples from these earlier agreements: French company sues Egypt for passing a minimum-wage law; Swedish company sues Germany for deciding to phase out nuclear power; Dutch company sues the Czech Republic for refusing to bail out a bank; Occidental Petroleum sues Ecuador for $2.3 billion for withdrawing oil drilling rights, Eli Lilly sues Canada for $500 million for allowing courts to invalidate patents on two drugs. And on and on. Do you like the idea of a “Made in U.S.A.” requirement for government contracts? Do you think environmental or food- or labor-safety laws are a good idea in Maine? They’re all potentially sue-able. And who pays for such lawsuits? Tax-payers. Sounds like taxation without representation, doesn’t it? And it gets worse. The TPP is open ended. Any additional countries can join without any further Congressional approval required — more and more corporations enabled to sue us. Under the TPP, the U.S. will lose sovereignty, our elections will mean less than they do now, and the local self-determination we value will be eroded. ISDS trumps our laws and court decisions, and is not subject to review by those courts or any legislature. You’d think that something like this — which essentially violates the national sovereignty embedded in our Constitution — would require a discussion approaching the care appropriate for a Constitutional amendment, or at least a careful, detailed consideration. But no. The President, his Trade Representative, and a host of lobbyists for giant corporations are pushing Congress right now to pass Fast-Track status for the TPP. If that happens, then when Congress finally gets the TPP — probably over a thousand pages of complex legalese — Congress will have perhaps 24 hours to discuss it, no opportunity to amend its worst features, and will have to vote simply “yes” or “no.” Our national sovereignty, our civil rights and liberties, and our well-being are not partisan issues. Please contact our delegation now, and tell them you support neither Fast Track, nor the TPP as it is currently set up. Collins: 202-224-2523. King: 202-224-5344. Poliquin: 202-225-6116. References (yes, one-sided; there’s plenty of muscle on the other side): http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/26/business/trans-pacific-partnership-seen-as-door-for-foreign-suits-against-us.html http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kill-the-dispute-settlement-language-in-the-trans-pacific-partnership/2015/02/25/ec7705a2-bd1e-11e4-b274-e5209a3bc9a9_story.html http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/do-corporations-need-more-rights-fast-track-tpp http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/if-you-thought-nafta-was-bad-you-aint-seen-nothing-yet Food and Water Watch email, 4 March 2015 _______________________________________________ HCCN mailing list HCCN@mainetalk.org https://mainetalk.org/mailman/listinfo/hccn_mainetalk.org

2 Responses to “Fast Track”

  1. starrcgil Says:

    Thanks for writing the letter and forwarding your letter. This is one of the most important issues we may actually have some traction in derailing provided there is enough critical mass. If anyone is going to Augusta from Ellsworth area, please contact me. I will drive if others want to car pool. Starr Sent from my iPad _______________________________________________ HCCN mailing list HCCN@mainetalk.org http://mainetalk.org/mailman/listinfo/hccn_mainetalk.org

  2. shennabellows Says:
    Thanks for sharing!  I'll be speaking at the rally tomorrow. 

    Take care,

    Shenna

    On Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 7:02 PM, Dick Atlee <atlee@umd.edu> wrote:

    Larry Dansinger wrote, On 4/16/15 6:26 PM:

    Please pass along to others in your group or area. Thanks, and apologize for short notice on this.

    Rally for Fair Trade
    April 18, 2015 3 PM South Side of the Maine State Capitol Building
    *NO to Fast Track Trade Authority, TPP, TAFTA, TTIP, etc.*

    FWIW, this is an op-ed that I wrote for the MDIslander, published a couple of weeks ago:

    ———————————————————————-
    Op-ed:  The Trans-Pacific Partnership — Bad for Maine, big mistake for the country

    Coming soon to you: the "Trans-Pacific Partnership" trade agreement (TPP). It will affect you because (among other things) it enables any corporation in one of its participating countries to sue any participating-country government —  national, state or local — whose action the corporation says has hurt its investments or profits. It doesn't matter if that government action is for your benefit or your welfare as a consumer or as a citizen or as a small business. You as a tax-payer can end up paying for the suit and/or losing the benefit.

    The TPP is often called "NAFTA on steroids," referring to the earlier "North American Free Trade Agreement." That "job-creating" agreement drained 700,000 decent-paying jobs from the U.S., and created the conditions in Mexico and Central America that ballooned the migration of "illegal aliens."

    The negotiations on the TPP among (now) twelve countries in North and South America and Asia have been going on since 2005. But before the present year, and perhaps even now, almost no Americans knew this was happening.

    That's no accident. The negotiations have been held totally in secret — from the public. They are classified, secret even from Congress, at least until very recently. But not secret from Corporate America. In 2014, there were 566 advisory group members with input into the negotiations, 480 of whom represented industry groups or trade associations. The only peek inside the TPP that the general public has had has been from a few unauthorized leaks.

    Not to worry? The President, who is pushing the TPP, has said he will never let consumers down. So why all the secrecy? And why is he now, as we speak, pushing Congress to pass it virtually sight unseen?

    The answer is that the TPP is not about public benefit — or even about strictly about trade. Leaks indicate that only a few of its chapters have to do with trade. The rest is about corporate profits and power. The large financial, energy, electronics and other industries pushing the TPP — and having input into it — are looking out for their profits, not for jobs or consumer benefits or public health and wellbeing, or even Constitutional democracy.

    The provision mentioned earlier, which enables corporations to sue governments, involves Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS). If a company claims that a decision made by a government — national/state/local, a law, a rule, a regulation, whatever — in any way harms its profits, it can sue that government for whatever profits it claims to be losing.

    The ISDS provision says it addresses the problem of "expropriating or nationalizing a covered investment either directly or indirectly." But the TPP's definition of "investment" and the scope of the term "indirectly" are so broad that "expropriate" can easily come to apply to simply reforming regulations.

    And these disputes are argued under corporate-favorable rules in unaccountable international tribunals set up by the U.N. or World Bank.

    ISDS has existed in earlier trade agreements, but never with such potentially large opponents as we would face in the TPP. Here are a few examples from these earlier agreements: French company sues Egypt for passing a minimum-wage law; Swedish company sues Germany for deciding to phase out nuclear power; Dutch company sues the Czech Republic for refusing to bail out a bank; Occidental Petroleum sues Ecuador for $2.3 billion for withdrawing oil drilling rights, Eli Lilly sues Canada for $500 million for allowing courts to invalidate patents on two drugs. And on and on.

    Do you like the idea of a "Made in U.S.A." requirement for government contracts? Do you think environmental or food- or labor-safety laws are a good idea in Maine? They're all potentially sue-able. And who pays for such lawsuits? Tax-payers.

    Sounds like taxation without representation, doesn't it?

    And it gets worse. The TPP is open ended. Any additional countries can join without any further Congressional approval required — more and more corporations enabled to sue us.

    Under the TPP, the U.S. will lose sovereignty, our elections will mean less than they do now, and the local self-determination we value will be eroded. ISDS trumps our laws and court decisions, and is not subject to review by those courts or any legislature. You'd think that something like this — which essentially violates the national sovereignty embedded in our Constitution — would require a discussion approaching the care appropriate for a Constitutional amendment, or at least  a careful, detailed consideration.

    But no. The President, his Trade Representative, and a host of lobbyists for giant corporations are pushing Congress right now to pass Fast-Track status for the TPP. If that happens, then when Congress finally gets the TPP — probably over a thousand pages of complex legalese — Congress will have perhaps 24 hours to discuss it, no opportunity to amend its worst features, and will have to vote simply "yes" or "no."

    Our national sovereignty, our civil rights and liberties, and our well-being are not partisan issues. Please contact our delegation now, and tell them you support neither Fast Track, nor the TPP as it is currently set up.

    Collins: 202-224-2523. King: 202-224-5344. Poliquin: 202-225-6116.

    References (yes, one-sided; there's plenty of muscle on the other side):

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/26/business/trans-pacific-partnership-seen-as-door-for-foreign-suits-against-us.html
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kill-the-dispute-settlement-language-in-the-trans-pacific-partnership/2015/02/25/ec7705a2-bd1e-11e4-b274-e5209a3bc9a9_story.html
    http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/do-corporations-need-more-rights-fast-track-tpp
    http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/if-you-thought-nafta-was-bad-you-aint-seen-nothing-yet
    Food and Water Watch email, 4 March 2015