Just say NO to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Savvy, deep-pocketed foreign conglomerates could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government,” said United States Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (Weisma).

what_is_tppThe trade agreement is a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s economic agenda for his second term in office. The agreement faces tremendous criticism from many Democrats and progressives. Collectively, they claim that this deal would be damaging to U.S. sovereignty, that it expands the ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement), and it adds new substantive rights to foreign companies and investors. All of which many say would hurt the U.S. economy, damage the environment, roll-back human rights, and destroy privacy.

LNG_Terminal_5_tpp_meme_2-01_copyThe trade agreement would grant broad powers to multinational companies and investors operating in North America, South America, and Asia. Under the agreement, companies and investors would be able to challenge any regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings – federal, state or local – that they do not agree with before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations (Weisma).

Importantly, two weeks ago the negotiators reached an agreement, and now, we all must continue to wait for the full details of the agreement to be released. The New York Times predicts that it may take another three to four months for Congress to enact the agreement (Lee). However, under the “fast-track” legislation, it ensures Congress will only be able to vote yes or no and not debate it. This legislation was pushed by the Obama administration.

Thus, the public cannot see the agreement or know what is in it. Not to forget that all of the negotiations were done in secret. However, Congress should pass it without debating it. This is not democracy. The following includes information provided through Senators, Representatives, and leaked documents.

The trade agreement would grant foreign companies and investors rights that are not applicable to U.S. companies and investors, such as access to extrajudicial tribunals. These tribunals would be staffed by private sector lawyers. These lawyers can rotate between acting as “judges” and representing the governments who  have conflicts of interest (Wallach and Beachy, pgs. 3-4). They have no public accountability and there is no requirement for tribunalists to be impartial. They also have no right to appeal. In addition, these tribunals can order governments to pay unlimited  monetary compensation.

Specifically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership has a massive overreaching definition of “investment” for all companies and investors involved. The following is that definition from the leaked documents:

Every asset that an investor owns or controls, directly or indirectly, that has the characteristics of an investment, including such characteristics as the commitment of capital or other resources, the expectation of gain or profit, or the assumption of gain or profit, or the assumption of risk (Wallach and Beachy, pg. 4).

Under these terms of the trade agreement, the investors could demand monetary compensation if nations “expropriate or nationalize covered  investment either directly or indirectly.” Therefore, this could be interpreted broadly to include multinational companies opposing regulatory or legal changes that diminish the value of their ‘investments.’

4aaThese new rights could mean more cases like the one in 2013, where Eli  Lilly, a pharmaceutical company used a  similar provision under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) to sue Canada for $500 million. Eli Lilly accused Ottawa, Canada, of violating its  obligations to foreign investors by allowing Canada’s courts to invalidate patents for two of their  drugs (Weisma).

According to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA),

Agreeing to ISDS in this enormous new treaty would tilt  the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations. Worse, it would undermine U.S. sovereignty.

resizeThe following is an example Senator Warren gave to describe the new powers of ISDS. Imagine that the U.S. bans a toxic chemical that is added to gasoline because it is  harmful. If one company makes the toxic chemical and opposes the law, it would normally challenge the law in a U.S. court. However, with ISDS, that company could skip the U.S. court and go before one of the tribunals. If the company wins, the ruling could not be challenged in U.S. court, and the tribunal could require U.S. taxpayers to pay millions of dollars in damages.

Unfortunately there is a growing number of ISDS cases. From 1958 to 2002, there were fewer than 100 ISDS claims in the world. In 2012, that number rose to 58 cases. Recently, a Swedish company  sued Germany because Germany decided to  phase out  nuclear power after Japan’s Fukushima disaster. Philip Morris has even attempted to use ISDS to stop Uruguay from implementing their new tobacco regulations (Warren).

Under this expansion, TransCanada could force  the U.S. government to build the Keystone XL Pipeline or incur a large monetary payout for damages to  TransCanada by not building the pipeline. The expansion is troubling, especially to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who said

This continues the great American tradition of corporations writing trade agreements, sharing them with almost nobody, so often at the expense of consumers, public health, and workers (Weisma).

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a cornerstone of President Obama’s economic agenda  which faces tremendous criticism from his  own Party. The agreement is enormous and could damage U.S. sovereignty, expands the ISDS, and it adds new substantive rights to foreign companies and investors. Many continue to say that this agreement could hurt the U.S. economy, damage the environment, roll-back human rights, and destroy privacy.

Are you are Bernie Sanders supporter and wish to stand with him against the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Are you against the Trans-Pacific Partnership but not a Bernie Sanders supporter?


Works Cited

Lee, Timothy. “The just-completed Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, explained.”     Vox.com Vox, 5 Oct. 2015. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.

Wallach, Lori and Beachy, Ben. “Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Text,” Public Citizen (2015): 3-5 Print.

Warren, Elizabeth. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose.” Washingtonpost.com. Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2015. Web. 26 April. 2015.

Weisma, Jonathan. “Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S.” nyti.com. New York Times, 25 March. 2015. Web. 26 April. 2015.

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Commit to Caucus for Bernie Sanders

On February 1st, 2016, I will be caucusing for Senator Bernie Sanders for United States President in the Iowa Democratic Party Caucuses, and this is why!

bernie_sandersSenator Bernie Sanders is serving his 2nd term in the U.S. Senate. He won his last election with 71%. Bernie has served 16 years in the U.S. House, and he is the longest serving independent in our nation’s history. 

Bernie Sanders served 4 terms as the Mayor of Burlington, Vermont and he was first elected in 1981.

In the 60s, as a student and activist, Bernie was a front-line champion for equality. He was even arrested while protesting the segregation of schools, he organized against segregated housing in Chicago, and he marched on Washington, D.C. with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Bernie Sanders is one of our nation’s most persistent voices defending the interests of the working class and standing up to the excesses of corporate America. He is also widely considered the most progressive member of the U.S. Senate. 

I will caucus for Bernie Sanders because he believes in real family values, values that strengthen the bonds of the family and improve the lives of our families.

  • 10435642_867506549971017_514175294279107342_nBernie cosponsored Sen. Kirsent Gilibrand’s FAMILY Act, which would guarantee every employee twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave.
  • Bernie also cosponsored Sen. Patty Murray’s Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee seven days of paid sick leave per year for American workers.

I will caucus for Bernie because he understands that to create decent paying jobs you must invest in the U.S. and our youth.

It’s even worse for young people. A recent study found that over 50% of young African-Americans and more than one-third of white and Hispanic youth are looking for full-time work. – Sen. Bernie Sanders

  • 11709501_863713060350366_1012888495097785532_nBernie introduced legislation which would invest $1 trillion over five years to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure, creating and maintaining at least 13 million good-paying jobs.
  • Bernie opposed bad trade deals such as NAFTA, CAFTA, permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China, and the TPP.
  • Bernie also introduced the Employ Young Americans Now Act with Rep. John Conyers. It would provide $5.5 billion in immediate funding to employ one million young Americans between the ages of 16 and 24.

I will caucus for Bernie because he understands the impact of income and wealth inequality.

In fact, inequality is worse now than at any other time in American history since the 1920s. . .  We live in one of the wealthiest countries on earth – and yet children go hungry, veterans sleep out on the streets and senior citizens cannot afford their prescription drugs. This is what a rigged economic system looks like. – Sen. Bernie Sanders

I will caucus for Bernie because he will fight to get big money out of politics.

Freedom of speech does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government. . . In a 5-4 decision in the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court essentially declared that corporations have the same rights as natural-born human beings. – Sen. Bernie Sanders

  • BernieSanders-FreeSpeechBernie introduced the Democracy Is for People constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
  • Bernie voted for the DISCLOSE Act to shine a light on the exorbitant amounts of dark money in our politics.
  • Bernie has even promised that any Sanders Administration Supreme Court nominee will commit to overturning the disastrous Citizens United decision.

I will caucus for Bernie because he will combat climate change and protect our environment.

We must transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels, and towards energy efficiency and sustainability. – Sen. Bernie Sanders

  • 11059916_873367072718298_5236429870077953044_nBernie led the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Bernie introduced the gold standard for climate change legislation with Sen. Barbara Boxer to tax carbon and methane emissions.
  • Bernie also secured $3.2 billion in the economic stimulus package for grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in a program that has funded upgrades for more than 86,000 buildings and installed more than 9,500 solar energy systems.

I will caucus for Bernie because he will fight for a living wage.

The current federal minimum wage is starvation pay and must become a living wage. We must increase it to $15 an hour over the next several years.”

  • Bernie introduced a budget amendment to raise the minimum wage.
  • Bernie also introduced the “Workplace Democracy Act” to strengthen the role of unions and the voices of working people on the job.

*Nothing in this post was approved by any candidate, candidate’s committee, or political party*

July 3 & Bernie Sanders in Council Bluffs, Iowa

11695825_10204817824588262_1182260142788144659_nOn July 3rd, I had the awesome opportunity to meet and introduce Senator Bernie Sanders at his campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

I had a blast, it was amazing. This also just happened to have been my official coming out in support of Senator Bernie Sanders for President.

Bernie Sanders is serving his 2nd term in the U.S. Senate and he won his last election with 71%. Bernie has served 16 years in the U.S. House, and he is longest serving independent in our nation’s history.

Bernie Sanders served 4 terms as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont and he was first elected in 1981.

In the 60s, as a student and activist, Bernie was a frontline champion for equality. He was even arrested while protesting the segregation of schools, he organized against segregated housing in Chicago, and he marched on Washington, D.C. with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bernie Sanders is one of our nation’s most persistent voices defending the interests of the working class and standing up to the excesses of corporate America. He is also widely considered the most progressive member of the U.S. Senate.

I first became involved in politics in 2012, when I volunteered with the Iowa Democratic Party. Last year, I was elected Affirmative Action Chair for the Pottawattamie County Democrats.

As you all may be aware, I live with a very rare genetic disease called cystinosis. The disease causes the continuous cellular accumulation of the amino acid cystine to rise to toxic levels, resulting in irreversible tissue and organ damage if left untreated even for a short time. The disease damages all of my organs, especially my kidneys, eyes, muscles, thyroid, and brain.

Health insurance in the U.S. is confusing for most people, however it is especially difficult (even with the ACA) for people living with cystinosis, or any serious illness. Individuals like myself must be sure that our health insurance will answer all of these questions:

  • Does the plan cover ALL your prescriptions (anti-rejection, Cystagon, Procysbi, Cystaran)?
  • Are your medications (anti-rejection, Cystagon, Procysbi, Cystaran) on the “formulary” or must they be ordered through as specialty pharmacy? Will you have to pay out-of-pocket for specialty pharmacy orders?
  • Is there a mail-order option?
  • Does the plan permit you to see the providers you already have established relationships with and allow you to be hospitalized at the medical center of your choice?11695876_863892750332397_2033260714184318579_n
  • What does it cost to go “out-of-network”?
  • For medications that may not be FDA approved, what will be the cost to you?

Living with cystinosis and dealing with doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and insurance has led me to be a supporter of the single-payer healthcare system, which Bernie stands for.

As you may be aware, I am a student at Iowa Western Community College, studying Psychology.

11059383_860752873979718_241580374969825418_nNavigating how to pay for my education, while dealing with cystinosis can be daunting. I already have over $8,000 in student loan debt.

However, I have hope because Bernie will work towards college affordability. He believes that everyone regardless of their family’s income should be able to get a high quality education.

As a transgender woman, I know Bernie has my back because he has been out there fighting for LGBTQIA+ equality since the 70s. As U.S. Representative in 1996, he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned all federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and Bernie has always voted for non-discrimination bills that include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” protections.

*My support for Senator Bernie Sanders will not interfere with my position as Affirmative Action Chair for the Pottawattamie County Democrats.*

Proud Progressive Democrat

Logo275I am proud to be a progressive Democrat and I support the “Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).” PDA was founded in 2004 to seek to build a party and government controlled by citizens, not corporate elites-with policies that serve the public interest, not just private interests (www.pdamerica.org)

“As the second-longest-serving Democrat in the House of Representatives, I know what I am talking about when I say that no one has worked harder on the issues protecting Social Security, fighting for a full employment economy and national health care both inside and outside the Democratic Party, than PDA.” – Representative John Conyers

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and their allies have shuck up the political status-quo on issues ranging from the Iraq War, voter rights, protecting Social Security, a full employment economy, national healthcare and economic justice.

PDA stands in line with many if not all of the same positions I hold. For instance, stopping global warming, providing healthcare for all, fighting for human rights and economic justice.

PDA agrees that we must provide a living wage, extend unemployment benefits, expand earned income tax credits, food and childcare assistance, and housing vouchers, just to name a few.

business-case-for-single-payer-39-638Specifically, PDA supports, H.R. 676 – the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, which was originally sponsored by Rep. John Conyers and co-authored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich. The bill would provide a national healthcare plan that would supplant the deficiencies of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

  • The bill would replace private insurers and recoup administrative savings amounting to billions each year.
  • The plan would be publicly financed replying on progressive financing and would be privately and publicly delivered by health care workers and hospitals.

“The global evidence is very clear: single-payer financing systems are the most equitable and cost-effective way to assure that everyone, without exception, gets high-quality care,” said Dr. Robert Zarr, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, a nonprofit research and educational group of 19,000 doctors nationwide. (PNHP)

 

epa-trendsPDA supports, H.R. 3242 – the Save Our Climate Act. The bill would provide a fee levied on the carbon content of fossil fuels at the first point of sale.

  • The tax would begin at $10/ton on carbon dioxide content and increase by bellow 1990 levels.
  • The tax will create a shift in behavior so that oil usage in 2021 will be 19% lower than 2005 usage.

 

PDA supports, “The Inclusive Prosperity Act,” the Robin Hood Tax. The bill would impose a tax on the trading of stocks, bonds, derivatives and currency – essentially a sales tax on Wall Street trades.

  • The bill would impose a tax of 0.5% on the trade of stocks – 50 cents on the purchase or sale of $100.00 worth of stock – and a lesser rate on trading of bonds, derivatives and currency.
  • The bill will also help limit the reckless short-term speculation on the market that threatens our financial stability.

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PDA supports, H.R. 2212 – the Democracy Restoration Act, introduced by Rep. John Conyers. The bill would establish a federal standard that restores voting rights in federal elections.

  • This bill would create a uniform standard across the country in federal elections.
  • It would strengthen democracy by creating a broader and more just base of voter participation.
  • It would aid law enforcement by encouraging participation in civic life, assisting reintegration, and rebuilding ties to the community.
  • The bill would facilitate election administration by streamlining registration issues and eliminating the opportunity for erroneous purges of eligible voters.
  • It would also eliminate the confusion about who is eligible to vote.

votingrights_230

 

 

PledgeLogoFinal

Another priority that both I and PDA support is full federal LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) equality. For instance, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and similar acts to provide equal workers’ rights and employment opportunities, housing, public accommodations, credit access, education, marriage and all federal programs.

Supporting the PDA, does not mean that I am endorsing any candidate that the PDA may endorse. It just means that I support the ideals of the PDA and many of the issues they are working on.

You can also add your support and join the PDA here: www.pdamerica.org 

 

Trans-Pacific Partnership Must Be Stopped

DSC_7198

“Savvy, deep-pocketed foreign conglomerates could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government,” said United States Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer (D-NY) on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) (Weisma).

The TPP is a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s economic agenda for his second term in office. However, the trade agreement faces tremendous criticism from many Democrats and progressive organizations. Collectively, these Democrats and progressives claim that this trade deal would be damaging to U.S. sovereignty, that it expands the ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement), and it adds new substantive rights to foreign companies and investors. All of which would hurt the U.S. economy, damage the environment, roll-back human rights, and destroy privacy.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would grant broad powers to multinational companies and investors operating in North America, South America, and Asia. Under the TPP, companies and investors would be able to challenge any regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings – federal, state or local – that they do not agree with before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations. The trade agreement would also expand that authority to companies and investors in countries as wealthy as Japan and Australia (Weisma).

Importantly, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is moving through Congress by obtaining fast-track authority, which means that when the TPP bill lands on the floor of both houses of Congress, it will only get a yes or no vote. No debate and no amendments. Recently, on the 23 of April, the House Ways and Means Committee passed the trade promotion authority (TPA) for the TPP on a vote of 25 – 13 sending the TPA to the full House (Needham).

Additionally, the negotiations of the trade agreement have all been in secret. The only information that the public has on the agreement has come from leaked documents and from what Senators and Representatives have told the public. These Senators and Representatives can only view the official document in a secure room and they are prohibited from taking any notes.

Furthermore, the trade agreement (TPP) would grant foreign companies and investors rights that are not applicable to U.S. companies and investors. It would grant access to extrajudicial tribunals. These tribunals would be staffed by private sector lawyers. these lawyers can rotate between acting as “judges” and representing the company or investor in cases against governments who have conflict of interest (Wallach and Beachy, pgs. 3-4).

Conveniently, the company or investor initiating a case can choose the venue and select one of the “judges” from a roster. The defense (usually a national government) choose another judge. Jointly, the two Parties select the third judge (Wallach and Beachy, pgs. 3-4). Thus, these tribunals lack judicial ethics. They have no public accountability and there is no requirement for tribunalists to be impartial, also they have no right to appeal. In addition, these tribunals can order governments to pay unlimited monetary compensation.

Specifically, the TPP has a massive overreaching definition of “investment” for all companies and investors involved. The following is the definition of “investment” from the leaked TPP documents:

“Every asset that an investor owns or controls, directly or indirectly, that has the characteristics of an investment, including such characteristics as the commitment of capital or other resources, the expectation of gain or profit, or the assumption of risk” (Wallach and Beachy, pg. 4).

The text continues to enumerate as example:

Regulatory permits; instruments such as stocks and derivatives; “construction, management, production, concession, revenue-sharing, and other similar contracts;” and “licenses, authorizations, permits, and similar rights conferred pursuant to domestic law” (Wallach and Beachy, pg. 4).

Under these terms of the TPP, the investors could demand monetary compensation if nations “expropriate or nationalize a covered investment either directly or indirectly.” In addition, “indirect expropriation” could be interpreted broadly to include multinational companies opposing regulatory or legal changes that diminish the value of their ‘investments.’

Thus, under the trade agreement, a member nation could be forbidden from favoring “good produced in its territory.” For example, Iowa soybean farmer cannot favor their product without facing financial punishment.

“This is not about expropriation; it’s about regulatory changes.” said Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch. “You Now have specialized law firms being set up. You go to them, tell them what country you’re in, what regulation you want to go after, and they say, ‘We’ll do it on contingency'” (Weisma).

“This deal [TPP] would give protections to international corporations that are not available to United States environmental and labor groups,” U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said in an interview. “Multinational corporations to sue national governments in international forums and win cash judgement that cannot be appealed” (White).

Meaning, that TransCanada could use the TPP to sue the U.S. for not building the Keystone XL pipeline.

Moreover, a specific part of the leaked TPP text, the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), would be expanded to include,

“written agreements” . . . “between a national authority of a Party and covered investment or an investor of another Party . . . that grants rights to the covered investment or investor: a) with respect to natural resources that a national authority controls, such as for their exploration, extraction, refining, transportation, distribution, or sale; b) to supply services to the public on behalf of the Party, such as power generation or distribution, water treatment or distribution, or telecommunications, or; c)to undertake infrastructure projects, such as the construction of roads, bridges, canals, dams, or pipelines, that are not for the exclusive or predominate use and benefit of the government” (Wallach and Beachy, pg. 5).

Under this expansion, TransCanada could force the U.S. government to build the Keystone XL pipeline or incur a large monetary payout for damages to TransCanda by not building the pipeline. The expansion is troubling, especially to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH),

“This continues the great American tradition of corporations writing trade agreements, sharing them with almost nobody, so often at the expense of consumer, public health, and workers” (Weisma).

According to U.S. Senator Warren (D-MA,

“Agreeing to ISDS in this enormous new treaty would tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations. Worse, it would undermine U.S. sovereignty.”

An example she gave to describe the new powers of ISDS would give to these companies and investors included imaging that the U.S. bans a toxic chemical that is added to gasoline because it is harmful. However, if one of these companies or investors make the toxic chemical and oppose the law, it would normally challenge that law in a U.S. court. However, with ISDS, that company or investor could then skip the U.S. court and go before one of these tribunals. If the company or investor wins, the ruling could not be challenged in U.S. court, and the tribunal could then require U.S. taxpayers to pay millions of dollars in damages (Warren).

Unfortunately, there is a growing number of ISDS cases. From 1959 to 2002, there were fewer than 100 ISDS claims in the world. But in 2012, that went up to 58 cases. Some recent cases include a French company that sued Egypt because Egypt raised its minimum wage. A Swedish company sued Germany because Germany decided to phase out nuclear power after Japan’s Fukushima disaster, and a Dutch company that sued the Czech Republic because they did not bail out a bank that the company partially owned. Even, Philip Morris has attempted to use ISDS to stop Uruguay from implementing their new tobacco regulations (Warren).

“Conservatives who believe in U.S. sovereignty should be outraged that ISDS would shift power from American courts, whose authority is derived from our Constitution, to unaccountable international tribunals. And progressives should oppose ISDS because it would allow big multinationals to weaken labor and environmental rules,” added Senator Warren (D-MA) (Warren).

President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement goes further, it would provide substantive rights that would only be available to foreign companies and investors. For instance, the right to claim damages for government actions (such as new environmental, health or financial policies) that reduce the value of a foreign investor’s investment or that go against the level of regulatory scrutiny that an investor might have had when dealing with a previous government (Wallach and Beachy, pgs. 8-9). These new rights could mean more cases like the one in 2013, where Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company used a similar provision under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) to sue Canada for $500 million. Eli Lilly accused Ottawa, Canada of violating its obligations to foreign investors by allowing Canada’s courts to invalidate patents for two of its drugs (Weisma).

24Yes, there are some Democrats who support President Obama’s trade deal, and they formed a group called the “Progressive Coalition for American Jobs (PCAJ).” This group claims to be a group of, “progressives and Democrats committed to leveling the playing field for American workers.” The team who formed the PCAJ includes many senior members of President Obama’s former campaign team. Including Mitch Stewart, the former aid that ran Organizing for America (OFA) and Lynda Tran, the former OFA press secretary.

“When we looked around for other progressive voices making the case for free and fair trade, we found that there wasn’t really a vehicle for engaging the public around the benefits of this deal,” Tran wrote in an email. “So we decided to get involved and help launch the Progressive Coalition for American Jobs to bring together progressives across the activist, advocacy, and business communities” (McMorris-Santoro and Nocera).

A spokesperson from the White House said this when asked about the PCAJ,

“The president has made it clear that expanding jobs and opportunities through progressive trade deals is a priority. It’s not surprising that groups that share this commitment have decided to add their voice to the discussion, and we welcome their input” (McMorris-Santoro and Nocera).

The National Economic Council Director, Jeffrey Zients had this to add in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership,

“The purpose of investment provisions in our trade agreements is to provide American individuals and businesses who do business abroad with the same protections we provide to domestic and foreign investors alike in the United States.”

Signaling his support for the trade agreement and specifically ISDS. He specially said this on ISDS,

“ISDS does not undermine U.S. sovereignty, change U.S. law, nor grant any new substantive rights multinational companies” (White).

On the contrary, the Progressive Coalition for American Jobs (PCAJ) faces strong criticism from progressives and Democrats who believe that this group is not at all a ‘progressive’ group.

“Who are they? Are they getting paid? And this group will convince anybody of what?” asked U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). He went on to say, “There is zero progressive interest in this [TPP]” (McMorris-Santoro and Nocera).

“If you look at the progressives – labor unions, activists, online organizations – who are lined up against the TPP, there are no credible groups left to build a ‘coalition,'”

said an aid to a progressive House member who has doubts about the PCAJ. The aid added,

“The creation of a front group like PCAJ is a sign people pushing for a bad trade deal don’t have the votes to jam [trade deal] through Congress.”

Not to forget, the House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, has privately cautioned her members in the House of Representatives to keep their powder dry in order to negotiate the most liberal deal possible (McMorris-Santoro and Nocera).

Additionally, Candice Johnson, spokesperson for the Communications Workers of America, said,

“It’s insulting.” She added, “You put progressive in your name and that’s going to convince people?”

Beck Bond, president of CREDO, the San Francisco-based activist organization had this to say,

“As far as I know, the only thing ‘progressive’ about this so called ‘Progressive Coalition for American Jobs’ is the first word of the groups’ name” (McMorris-Santoro and Nacera).

Finally, a top progressive consultant in Washington, D.C., Mike Lux had some resounding words on this trade deal and the PCAJ,

“I have been in the trenches working on TPP from the beginning, and as far as I can tell there is no one in favor of it except big corporations.”

Mike Lux added,

“Every progressive group and sector that works on economic issues – labor, consumer groups, enviros, the online groups, civil rights groups, you name it – is vehemently against TPP, so I don’t know what progressives are in this group’s coalition” (McMorris-Santoro and Nocera).

Conversely, 139 United States law professors signed a letter in March, urging Congress and President Obama,to protect the rule of law and our nation’s sovereignty by ensuring ISDS is not included” in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The letter also stated,

“ISDS threatens domestic sovereignty by empowering foreign corporations to bypass domestic court system and privately enforce terms of a trade agreement. It weakens the rule of law by removing the procedural protections of the justice system and using an unaccountable, unreviewable system of adjudication” (Wallach and Beach, pgs. 7 and 11).

Another letter, signed by former judges, law professors and other prominet lawyers in May of 2012 warns,

“the foreign investor protections included in some recent Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and their enforcement through Investor-State arbitration should not be replicated in the TPP” (Wallach and Beachy, pgs. 7 and 11).

Of course there have been many letters sent to President Obama and Congress on the TPP describing why it should be stopped and or opposed. Including the following letter, a letter sent in December of 2014 to the president by U.S. Senator Warren (D-MA) – member of the Senate Banking Committee – and Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Edward Markey (DMA) urging the president not to include terms from past U.S. FTAs in the TPP. The letter adds,

“that could limit the ability of the government to use capital controls” (Wallach and Beachy, pgs. 7 and 11).

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a race to the bottom for the United States of america. It is especially harmful to the workers and consumers. If the TPP receives final approval from Congress and President Obama signs the agreement – ensuring that it is a cornerstone of his economic agenda – then he will have turned his back on progressives across the country. Passage of the TPP would mean that companies could use the ISDS and their new investor rights to raise costs of medications in the U.S. and depress the economy while those same companies can get large monetary payouts from the U.S. government. Therefore, the TPP is a bad deal and it will hurt the economy, environment, human rights, and health care. This deal must be stopped.

Join the effort here: Stop Fast Track! 

Works Cited

Heedham, Vicki. “Panel approves Obama trade powers.” http://www.thehill.com. TheHill, 23 April. 2015. Web. 24 April. 2015.

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