Trans-Pacific Trade Talks Resume With Almost No Media Coverage

Shouldn’t it be a trade violation to threaten to move someone’s job to another country? Shouldn’t we negotiate trade agreements that increase people’s wages on both sides of a trade border? These are the kinds of agreements we would make if We the People were negotiating trade agreements with representatives of the working people in other countries. Unfortunately that is not the kind of trade agreements that our current trade negotiation process produces.

The secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations resumed this week, this time in DC. TPP is a massive agreement that sets up new rules for over 40% of the global economy, It will have profound effects on our jobs, our standard of living now and in the future and our ability to make a living as a country. Oddly, though, as of Monday morning you have to read about it in Japan Times because few-to-no US media outlets are covering it. Japan Times: TPP talks get back underway in Washington,

Chief negotiators from 12 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative resumed negotiations in Washington after their leaders reaffirmed last month they will conclude an agreement as soon as possible.

Media Blackout

Here are a few stories about the media blackout of this important treaty — all in the non-corporate media:

Events This Week

In spite of the lack of American media coverage of this tremendously important agreement representatives of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, Internet freedom, public health, faith, human rights and community organizations held a rally Monday outside the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. These organizations represent “stakeholders” from all countries that are denied a seat at the TPP negotiating table.

At the rally George Kohl, senior director of Communications Workers of America, said “We believe in trade. We are fighting against old trade policy that literally guarantees corporate profits at the expense of working families in all nations. In the weeks ahead, we will mobilize like never before against Fast Track authorizing legislation and the TPP, and for 21st century trade that gives workers’ rights, environmental issues and other concerns the same standing as corporate profits.”

Pics from the rally: (credits Roger Hickey, Arthur Stamoulis)

Wednesday at 11am the AFL-CIO is holding a TPP briefing on “What Negotiators Should Be Discussing Behind Closed Doors,” at their DC headquarters at 815 16th St, NW.

“While the Obama administration meets behind closed doors this week with representatives of the countries involved in negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the AFL-CIO will host a briefing outlining what the negotiators should be discussing. The briefing will highlight what must be included in the negotiations for it to truly work for working people and how the TPP will only gain labor’s support if it will create American jobs and promote high labor and environmental standards. The briefing follows a week of increased Congressional scrutiny on the negotiations and the involved countries’ history of labor abuses.”

Secret Negotiations

The negotiations are secret and the kids of people at that DC rally are not represented at the bargaining table. But corporate representatives have access to drafts of the treaty, and the negotiators typically come from and expect to go to lucrative corporate positions after the treaty is finalized — assuming they “play ball.”

While we do not know exactly what is being negotiated, we do know from leaks — and previous “NAFTA-style” trade agreements — tell us what to expect. Much of TPP is about “investor protections” and not trade at all. These provisions allow corporations to sue governments for doing things that infringe on profits — like laws and regulations protecting the environment, worker safety, consumers and the health of citizens. For example, under similar agreements already in effect tobacco companies are suing governments to block anti-smoking efforts that protect the health of citizens!

Members of Congress are very concerned about the transparency of the TPP negotiating process. On a call Monday Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Keith Ellison (D-MN) and (rock star) Dan Kildee (D-MI) expressed their concerns about the secrecy of TPP as well as the failure to address currency manipulation in the agreement.

Senator Elizabeth Warren put her finger on the secrecy problem, saying, “Why are the trade talks secret? You’ll love this answer. Boy, the things you learn on Capitol Hill. I actually have had supporters of the deal say to me, ‘They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.'”

Currency Manipulation

Currency manipulation is a major trade problem. For example, we could restore up to 5.8 million American jobs, cut our trade deficit by $500 billion a year and increase our GDP by $720 billion just by addressing currency manipulation. (Click through for details.)

Congress is very concerned about this. Last year 60 Senators, a bipartisan majority, sent a letter to President Obama asking him to tell tell TPP negotiators to address currency manipulation. Also last year a majority (230) of members of the US House sent a bipartisan letter to the President saying they want him to tell TPP negotiators to address currency manipulation

60 Senators and 230 members of Congress want the negotiators to address currency manipulation– but TPP still does not address currency manipulation. What else do you need to know about the negotiating process, and respect for democracy and national sovereignty?

For more information about the TPP, visit these sites:

Expose the TPP.

Stop Fast Track.

Flush the TPP!

Stop TPP.

Sum of Us: Sign the petition to governments worldwide.

CWA’s TPP info, their Stop Fast Track petition and send this letter to Congress: Oppose Fast Track and the TPP

10 WAYS THE TPP WOULD HURT U.S. WORKING FAMILIES

Global Trade Watch

Eyes on Trade

Everybody Has an Opinion v 2.0

It seems like everybody has an opinion on world affairs and what this President should or should not do even today on the Sunday morning political shows . Arm chair diplomats seem to be everywhere. In fact, every Tom, Dick and Harry is now an expert on Syria, Iraq, Iran, or the terrorist group — ISIS aka ISIL. It’s truly an amazing phenomenon to witness so much commotion from our elected officials, media personalities or everyday citizens. Some want to declare war; others want to bomb, bomb, and bomb; yet while others don’t want any troops deployed, and scrutinize every plane and/or drone that is used.

California’s senior Senator Dianne Feinstein from San Francisco led the Democrats and took her best shot at the President for being too cautious on last week’s Sunday’s Meet the Press, but seems to be coming around to support the President after his statements today. But adding to the polemic is the ever growing pack of Democrats up for re-election, and the Republicans with their tom-tom drums stirring up fear and even more adversity. These GOP naysayers come in all shapes and sizes from the Boobsie Twins, aka Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are both continuously stirring the proverbial pot on the world stage and at home; to Governor Chris Christie who is pounding his chest this week about Russia’s Putin while judiciously checking his poll numbers. Really, really wish there was a way to simmer them all down because it is just not helping. Words do matter and this type of rabble rousing makes people even more uneasy during this time of great upheaval. Frankly, nothing good can come from Geraldo Rivera’s evocative words on social media, except more unrest:

“Morning, the president finally declared our strategic goal to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS. We must hold him to it. Behead the ISIS butchers.” 5:35 AM — 3 Sep 2014 New York, NY, United States

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Tonight: Frank Clemente, Dave Johnson • Legal tax evasion of multinationals

m4s0n501

6pm Pacific/9p Eastern

Dave Johnson (Campaign for America’s Future) and Frank Clemente (Americans for Tax Fairness) discuss the counterproductive, even perverse, policies that have become embedded in the structure of the US Corporate income tax. The result is distortions in economic activity, what amounts to legal tax evasion on the part of large multinational corporations.

Dave and Frank explore current policy, and have recommendations for a fairer system that actually benefits US citizens and the US economy. Jay Ackroyd moderates.

Tweet questions to @DCJohnson @4TaxFairness @JayAckroyd

Listen live or later http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2014/07/25/frank-clemente-dave-johnson-legal-tax-evasion-of-multinationals

TONITE (or later as podcast) Virtually Speaking 6pm PT / 9pm ET Dave Johnson Cliff Schecter

Commentary. Immigration and the right wing media/policy machine. Corporate tax inversions. Plus political satire from Culture of Truth. Jay Ackroyd moderates. Dave Johnson and Cliff Schecter.

Listen here live — or later as a recording:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2014/07/14/cliff-schecter-dave-johnson-vs-sundays

Republican Strategy: Obstruct, Blame Democrats For Obstruction’s Damage

Republicans are beginning to harvest the fruits of their obstruction.

The strategy is to set the stage for the election by obstructing everything that could help the economy get better, as well as anything that might make our lives better. They understand that they just will not be held accountable for their obstruction. Then they campaign against Democrats because things are not getting better.

The current example is the Veterans Administration “scandal.” Republicans obstructed every bill to improve the situation for veterans. Then they drummed up a “scandal” based on things not getting better for veterans. Republicans are already running this ad telling Alaskans to vote against Senator Mark Begich because of problems at the VA.

Strategy Phase 1: Obstruct Everything

In February Senate Republicans filibustered a bill that would have increased the VA budget by $21 billion, improved veterans’ health and dental care, authorized 27 new veterans’ clinics and medical facilities, added to veteran education programs and repealed a provision of the Murray-Ryan budget deal that slashed military pensions.

Filibustered. Obstructed. Killed off.

Reuters in February posted “U.S. Senate Republicans block veterans’ health bill on budget worry“:

U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget.

Even though the legislation cleared a procedural vote on Tuesday by a 99-0 vote, the measure quickly got bogged down in partisan fighting.

Supporters said the measure would have brought the most significant changes in decades to U.S. veterans’ programs. For example, it called for 27 new medical facilities to help a healthcare system that is strained by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. […]

Referring to recent budget deals that aim to bring down federal deficits, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama said: “This bill would spend more than we agreed to spend. The ink is hardly dry and here we have another bill to raise that spending again.”

Watch this video from Senator Bernie Sanders’ office:

Every VA Bill Obstructed

Thom Hartmann, writing in his post “The Mitch McConnell VA Scandal,” said:

And it wasn’t like this anti-veteran Republican filibuster was some radical break from the past either. Time and time again during the Obama presidency Republicans have either blocked or opposed bills that would have helped out the veterans they’re now claiming to care so much about.

Back in 2012, for example, GOP senators blocked a $1 billion jobs bill would have helped millions of unemployed veterans find work. And in that same year, Republican opposition also blocked a bill – the so-called Veterans’ Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act – that would have kept veterans’ benefits on par with rising expenses.

The list goes on. Before that, GOP lawmakers killed the Wounded Veteran Job Security Act, the Veterans Retraining Act of 2009, the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, the Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009, the Veterans Business Center Act of 2009, and the Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act of 2009.

Every single one of these bills would have helped veterans and every single one was killed exclusively by Republican opposition.

Here is an October, 2013 Daily Kos diary that lists several more instances of Republican obstruction of help for veterans, “GOP’s actual track record on supporting veterans.”

Killed With A Media Assist

If the public is told someone is obstructing the things they want, they can hold them accountable.

If the public is told things like “both sides do it” or “the Senate failed” they will decide not to bother to vote.

Republicans are certain they will not be held accountable for their obstruction, and they have good reason to be. Our news media and even many Democrats refuse to tell the public who did and who didn’t obstruct these bills.

Does the public get information that enables them to make informed decisions about who to hold accountable from headlines and news reports like these?

The Washington Post reported that “Senate rejects far-reaching Veterans Affairs bill“:

A broad Department of Veterans Affairs bill that would have expanded benefits for former service members and repealed a military pension cut for future troops was rejected in the Senate on Thursday.

CBS: Veterans’ benefits bill blocked in Senate

CNN: Vets bill fails in Senate, victim of election-year gridlock

AP: Senate blocks Dems’ bill boosting vets’ benefits,

A divided Senate on Thursday derailed Democratic legislation that would have provided $21 billion for medical, education and job-training benefits for the nation’s veterans.

USA Today: Senate rejects bill on veterans benefits

The largest piece of veterans legislation in decades — aimed at expanding health care, education and other benefits — was rejected Thursday by the Senate on a procedural issue after proponents failed to obtain 60 votes to keep the bill alive.

Military Times: Senate blocks huge vets benefits bill

Here is a personal favorite – outrage with no accountability from the American Legion: Legion: Senate vote on veterans bill ‘inexcusable’ ,

American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger expressed frustration and disappointment with Thursday’s Senate debate that effectively killed S. 1982, the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.

The Senate voted 56-41 to waive an extra budget point of order made against the bill – four votes short of what was needed to move the legislation onto a full Senate vote – ending floor consideration of the measure.

“Today, the Senate had a chance to put aside partisan politics and do what was right for the men and women who have sacrificed so much while wearing our nation’s uniform,” Dellinger said. “Instead, we saw the same political gamesmanship that led our federal government to a shutdown last fall. There was a right way to vote and a wrong way to vote today, and 41 senators chose the wrong way. That’s inexcusable.”

Who Did It?

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.