I lost, But We Won

13466522_10100253676015059_8234610603933303786_nI lost my campaign for Democratic National Committee (DNC) member. But we won at the Iowa State Convention. We even won in California, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Washington at their State Conventions.

Thank you everyone who volunteered for me and donated money to me. You really did help me get many votes at the convention. Thank you! It was a lot of work.

I am proud to say that my campaign stayed positive and never spoke negatively towards my opponent, we never called up delegates to spread negative messages.

While I campaigned I spoke about who I am and what I planned to do. I spoke about my values. I am proud to have run a positive campaign for the DNC.

Our convention was as usual dramatic and drawn out. It was about a 19-hour event that began at 9am and ended around 3am.

During this exciting and dramatic convention, we won more seats on the State Central Committee, we held our national delegate count, and had many victories on the platform.

  • Calling for single-payer health care
  • Support of the death with dignity act
  • Protecting LGBTQIA elders against discrimination
  • Support of insurance coverage for transgender related healthcare
  • Support of equal human rights for Palestinians and Israelis
  • Support of Palestinian statehood/UN membership
  • Opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Opposition to fast-tracking trade agreements
  • Support of tuition-free state colleges/universities
  • Calling for 100% renewable energy by the year 2025

576601cf42050.imageFollowing four separate votes the convention decided to abolish superdelegates. The last vote was round midnight when a petition was submitted to remove the superdelegates plank to make the platform silent on the issue. However, this was another win for us when the motion failed on a voice vote.

In California, the State Democratic Convention called for the elimination of caucuses and most superdelegates.

The convention passed a resolution that takes away the voting status of Democratic governors and members of Congress. However members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) would remain superdelegates and be tied to the vote of their constituency.

At the Missouri State Democratic Convention, more Bernie Sanders delegates showed up than Hillary Clinton delegates. Making Missouri another Bernie state. Bernie had 681 state delegates which equals 37 pledged national delegates and Hillary had 644 state delegates which equals 34 pledged national delegates.

Texas Democratic delegates wave signs as the party's state convention wraps up the final day with a breakfast tribute to Lady Bird Johnson, voting on platforms and resolutions and declaring national delegates on Saturday, June 18, 2016. Factions of the delegates were still proponents of Bernie Sanders despite the majority of the group supporting Hillary Clinton. (Kin Man Hui/San Antonio Express-News)
Texas Democratic delegates wave signs as the party’s state convention wraps up the final day, voting on platforms and resolutions and declaring national delegates on Saturday, June 18, 2016. (Kin Man Hui/San Antonio Express-News)

Progressives and Bernie delegates adopted a platform that reflects Bernie Sanders’ message at the Texas State Democratic Convention.

  • Banned lobbyists from becoming superdelegates
  • Limited the number of superdelegates to no more than 10% of the total number of delegates
  • Adopted a resolution to make the minimum wage $15 for non-tipped jobs, and to make tipped jobs start at $7.25 per hour.

10812111_GNebraska’s State Democratic Convention went a bit further with voting to abolish superdelegates to electing an anti-pipeline activist and Bernie Sanders supporter as the Party’s State chairwoman.

They even approved a resolution that calls on superdelegates to base their votes at the Democratic National Convention on the results of Nebraska’s March 5th presidential caucus.

In Washington, the Democratic Convention voted to officially endorse Bernie Sanders.

Sources:
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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.

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*

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.

McMorris-Santoro, Evan and Nocera, Kate. “Progressives: We’ve Never Heard of This “Progressive” Group Backing Obama’s Trade Deal.” http://www.buzzfeed.com BuzzFeed News, 12 March. 2015. Web. 24 April. 2015.

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

Wallach, Lori and Beachy, Ben. “Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Text.” Public Citizen (2015): 4 Print.

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

Wallach, Lori and Beachy, Ben. “Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Text.” Public Citizen (2015): 8-9 Print.

Wallach, Lori and Beachy, Ben. “Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Text.” Public Citizen (2015): 7 and 11 Print.

Warren, Elizabeth. “the Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose.” http://www.washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2015. Web. 26 April. 2015.

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

White, Ben. “Elizabeth Warren’s next target: Trade deals.” http://www.politico.com. POLITICO, 27 Feb. 2015. Web. 24 April. 2015.

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) = Race to the Bottom

DSC_7198I am opposed to the President’s trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and I urge you all to oppose it too. 

Join me in speaking out and let’s STOP FAST TRACK! Visit this website to learn how to best use your voice: stopfasttrack.com

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America, and Asia. A total of 12 nations. TPP would allow companies and investors to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings – federal, state, or local – before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations. Thus far, TPP is supported by corporate Democrats, Republicans and various businesses. The trade deal would even allow multinational companies to sue in the United States and elsewhere. Therefore, the overall priority of TPP is to protect corporate interest at the cost of the consumers.

 

“Multinational corporations are increasingly realizing this is an opportunity to gut U.S. regulations they don’t like,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in an interview with POLITICO.

These corporations will be able to do this because of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) within the TPP. ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws – potentially to pick up huge payout from the taxpayers – without ever stepping into a U.S. court. Moreover, from 1959 to 2002, there were about 100 ISDS claims worldwide. However, in 2012, there were 58 cases. Two recent cases include a Swedish company that 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 the Czechs didn’t bailout a bank that the company partially owned.

“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,” said Sen. Warren (D-MA) in the Washington Post.

With more and more progressives coming out against the TPP, pro-TPP Democrats are combating our arguments by being dismissive of them, and especially of Senator Warren by saying that she has been stoking unrealistic fears. One of these pro-TPP Democrats said, “Throwing out ISDS based on trade opponents’ nightmare scenarios would be like tearing down the entire U.S. judicial system because someone sued Starbucks over spilling hot coffee.”

Another Democrat opposed to the TPP Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) had this to say, “It seems to indicate that savvy, deep-pocketed foreign conglomerates could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government, such as made-in-America laws or anti-tobacco laws. I think people on both sides of the aisle will have trouble with this.”

The TPP gets even better, under it, a member nation could be forbidden from favoring “goods produced in its territory.” Meaning that “every asset that an investor owns or controls, directly or indirectly, that has characteristic of an investment,” including, “regulator permits; intellectual property rights; financial instruments such as stocks and derivatives; construction management, production, concession, revenue-sharing and other similar contracts; and licenses, authorization, permits and similar rights conferred pursuant to domestic law.”

“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,’” said Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch and an opponent of the TPP.

For example, in 2013, Eli Lilly took advantage of a similar provision under NAFTA to sue Canada for $500 million, accusing Ottawa of violating its obligations to foreign investors by allowing its courts to invalidate patents for two of its drugs.

It has been reported that the Obama administration hopes the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be a centerpiece accomplishment of his second term. The officials also claim they are confident in passage of both TPA and TPP, however with largely Republican support and just some Democrats. The administration is asking Congress to “fast-track” the TPP, meaning that lawmakers wouldn’t be able to amend the deal, only vote up or down on what the administration negotiates.

President Barack Obama had this to say on the TPP, “I have fought my entire political career and as president to strengthen consumer protections. I have no intention of signing legislation that would weaken those protections.”

Even so, many progressives including myself cannot stand the TPP, they make up the organized left (trade unions, environmentalists, human rights, etc.).

Conversely, a group that calls themselves “Progressive Coalition for American Jobs” claim to be progressive and supports the TPP. They say they are a group of “progressives and Democrats committed to leveling the playing field for American workers,” according to their website. It goes on to say, “It’s critical that we give the president trade promotion authority and establish the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Excuse me? Progressive?

“Who are they? Are they getting paid? And this group will convince anybody of what?” asks Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “There is zero progressive interest in this [TPP].”

24Progressive Coalition for American Jobs (PCAJ) includes some of the most senior members of President Obama’s former campaign team. Daily Kos reported Mitch Stewart, former aide the president asked to run Organizing for America (OFA), and Lynda Tran, the former OFA press secretary. Earlier this month, a press release from 270 Strategies announced the campaign firm started by Stewart and President Obama’s former field director, Jeremy Bird.

This is very upsetting for me personally as a former OFA member and as a supporter of President Obama.

“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 aide to a progressive House member. Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t seem to support the TPP, as she privately cautioned her members to keep their powder dry in order to negotiate the most liberal deal possible.

Candice Johnson, spokesperson for the Communications Workers of America said on PCAJ, “It’s insulting.” She went on to say, “You put progressive in your name and that’s going to convince people?”

“At this point, 270 Strategies is well known for its AstroTurf efforts to slap a progressive label to the endeavors of Wall Street Wing Democrats and their corporate masters, but this is an earth-shattering new low,” Neil Sroka, spokesperson for Democracy for America. “You can be a progressive committed to fighting for working families or you can be for this massive job-killing trade deal written by 500 corporate reps, but you can’t be both.”

PCAJ was asked about who funds the group and who the members are. Tran, the former Obama aide wouldn’t answer any of those questions. She did say, “We won’t be hosting rallies or organizing major field activities.” Instead she said they will focus on helping “get the word out” on President Obama’s trade deals.

“There is a progressive case to be made for this and I think the goal of this group [PCAJ] is to say, ‘There’s more than one kind of progressive out there with a message on trade’ and what hasn’t been heard,” said an aide to a member in the New Democratic coalition who has been working with the PCAJ.

The White House has been asked about the group, and a spokesperson said that the administration “welcomed” the group’s input. The spokesperson added, “It’s not surprising that groups that share this commitment have decided to add their voice to the discussion, and we welcome their input.”

Image found on google
Image found on google

A top progressive consultant in Washington, D.C., Mike Luz, wrote in an email on PCAJ and TPP, “Every progressive group and sector that works on economic issues – labor, consumer groups, enviros, the online groups, civil rights groups, human rights groups, you name it – is vehemently against TPP, so I don’t know what progressives are in this group’s coalition.”

Based on all of the above and additional resources, I believe I am better able to understand the TPP. Therefore, I stand against it, and I ask you all to join me in speaking out against this terrible “trade agreement.” I believe that President Obama does wish the best for our nation, however he is most definitely wrong when it comes to the TPP.

Join me in speaking out and let’s STOP FAST TRACK! Visit this website to learn how to best use your voice: stopfasttrack.com

 

*Sources: The New York Times, The Washington Post, POLITICO, and BuzzFeed News*