Category Archives: Free Trade Agreements

Tell @POTUS @realDonaldTrump: America & American Workers Must Come First in NAFTA Negotiations

***JUNE 13 UPDATE:  The US Trade Rep has extended the comment period until June 14th at midnight due to overwhelming response. Please continue reading for an easy copy/paste letter to submit online.***

 

The Trump administration is requesting public comments on what its NAFTA negotiating objectives should be. So lets flood the government with comments demanding a deal that puts jobs and families before CEO bonuses, and the American people & American workers first.

 

 

In July, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (@USTradeRep on twitter), which will lead the renegotiation talks, must reveal a detailed plan. And hundreds of corporate lobbyists will demand NAFTA become even worse for working people and the environment.

 

But thousands of comments from people like us (especially Berners, Trump supporters and Berner-turned-Trump train riders like myself) can drown the corporate demand that NAFTA become TPP 2.0. President Trump kept his campaign promise to pull the United States out of the TPP on his third full day in office! Let’s ask him and the US trade rep to keep his promise to fix NAFTA too. (Scroll down for a link to the comment page and an easy copy/paste script.)

 

Click here to submit public comments:

A sample letter is provided but feel free to add some of the statistics from my favorite tweets.

 

 

NAFTA Negotiations Docket USTR–2017–0006

(The text below is courtesy of Public Citizen Global Trade Watch – I’ve made a few changes to make it my own & it’s best if we all make some so that there aren’t thousands of identical comments. I especially changed the first paragraph because theirs left a lot to be desired. More #NAFTA tweets below this copy/paste portion.)

Renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement must stop NAFTA’s ongoing evisceration of the United States economy and replace it with a deal that benefits working people and the American economy, not just the profit margins of corporations. Five million manufacturing jobs have been lost since NAFTA was signed into law by President Clinton: that’s one in every four manufacturing jobs lost by an American worker.

Trans-Pacific Partnership  terms should not be added to any new NAFTA. President Trump said he’s against the TPP because it would hurt American workers and he formally withdrew the United States from TPP negotiations on his third day in office. So why does his Commerce Secretary say TPP is the starting place for NAFTA talks? The only way NAFTA will be “much better” for the US economy is if these criteria are met:

First, we need a transparent negotiating process. The original NAFTA and the TPP were negotiated behind closed doors with hundreds of corporate trade advisors included and the public and Congress excluded. As a result, those deals didn’t prioritize creating good jobs, raising wages or safeguarding our domestic policies. U.S.-proposed NAFTA texts and draft consolidated texts after each negotiating session must be made public. The corporate advisory system must be replaced by an on-the-record public process to get input on draft text during negotiations and comment on proposed final texts.

And we need to eliminate NAFTA’s foreign investor protections and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, which promotes job offshoring and allows corporations to sue the U.S. government before tribunals of three corporate lawyers. NAFTA’s investor protections make it less risky and cheaper for U.S. firms to move offshore. Even the pro-NAFTA Cato Institute says ISDS subsidizes offshoring by lowering the risk premium of relocating. Instead of firms facing the cost of risk insurance, they rely on ISDS to make governments in low-wage nations pay them if they think their special NAFTA offshorers’ investor protections aren’t met. U.S. taxpayers not only lose jobs, but our laws, court rulings and government decisions and our Treasury are exposed to reciprocal ISDS attacks by foreign firms operating here. ISDS tribunals can order us to pay corporations unlimited sums, including for their “expected future profits.” Decisions cannot be appealed. More than $371 millions has been paid to corporations after ISDS attacks on the laws North Americans rely on for their health and safety. U.S. trade deals must not subsidize offshoring or threaten our sovereignty: ISDS must be eliminated from NAFTA.

We must also add strong, enforceable labor and environmental standards, not TPP’s weak rules. Since 2007, our trade deals have had labor and environmental standards in their core texts. These terms – also included in TPP – have proved ineffective. NAFTA talks must raise Mexican wages above the current $2 per hour so workers can support their families. The absence of effective wage, labor and environmental standards also incentives U.S. job offshoring and slams U.S. firms and workers with imports subsidized by environmental and social dumping. NAFTA renegotiation must level the playing field by conditioning trade benefits on adoption, implementation and maintenance in domestic law of the rights guaranteed by ILO’s Core Conventions and multilateral environmental treaties nations have signed – and evidence that conditions on the ground have actually improved. Obligations must be subject to the same enforcement and sanctions as all other terms. Benefits must be withdrawn for backsliding.

Imported food, goods and services must meet U.S. consumer and environmental standards. NAFTA requires us to import meat that does not meet U.S. standards and limits border inspection and food labelling. It requires trucks and drivers from Canada and Mexico that don’t meet U.S. standards to have access to all U.S. roads. These terms must be replaced with a simple rule: imported products and services must meet the same standards as domestic ones and all service providers operating here must comply with U.S. environmental, safety, professional qualification, and other laws and regs. And certainly TPP’s limits on financial, e-commerce and other service sector consumer safeguards shouldn’t be added.

We must eliminate the Buy American ban that offshores U.S. tax dollars. NAFTA forbids the use of “Buy American” and similar procurement policies and requirements that firms operating government call centers or other outsourced services employ U.S. workers. Every nation must be free to decide how spends its tax dollars. NAFTA’s procurement chapter should be eliminated.

We must eliminate rules that raise medicine prices. Among NAFTA’s most outrageous special interest terms are those that shield pharmaceutical firms from the market competition that brings down medicine prices for consumers. NAFTA’s existing medicine-price-gouging terms must be eliminated and no new patent or other protectionism for Pharma added.

And finally, we must stop the currency manipulation: All U.S. trade deals must have enforceable punishing consequences for currency manipulation by other countries.

 

 

 

Notice at 2:03, Ross Perot makes reference to factory workers making $13.00/hour in 1992. That’s $22.76 in today’s money or $47,000 a year.

 

Notice at 2:03, Ross Perot makes reference to factory workers making $13.00/hour in 1992. That’s $22.76 in today’s money or $47,000 a year.

 

Plus benefits. Paid time off. Pension. A secure retirement. Know how I always say we’re being divided and conquered? All the bullshit, all the left vs right, conservative vs liberal, red vs blue, black vs white, gay vs straight, feminist vs patriarchy — it’s all propaganda to distract us from the war on our economy. It’s not the 1%. It’s the top HUNDREDTH of the top one percent. Did you know that only 2% of Americans make more than $250,000 a year? Only 5% make more than a $100,000 a year. And that’s actually HOUSEHOLDS, not individuals. HALF of all Americans earn less than $30,000 a year! Is $47,000 sounding good to you right now? And how about no student loans? And no student loan payments? Let’s get really REALLY real. We’re being divided and conquered so that we are pitted against each other and too distracted to realize that we are being manipulated,  not just by people who are filled with greed for money, but filled with greed for power. Do you really think a $15 an hour minimum wage would be too high? $15 an hour would simply make those at that earning level no longer eligible for subsidized housing, medical and food (SNAP a.k.a. food stamps). It costs what it costs to live. Either the employer pays it or the taxpayer picks up the slack.

One in every four employed people worked in manufacturing in the 1960’s. Today it’s one in ten. We must ask ourselves why our iphones, our laptops, our clothing, our appliances, our cups, our butter dishes, for God’s sake — why are they all made in another country? Union jobs have the greatest pay equity between men and women and people who make more money SPEND MORE MONEY. Take a drive down your nearest main street or go out to the mall. See all those empty storefronts? Yeah. The “recovery.” You want a living wage, workers? Start a union, join a union, and learn about strikes. That is how you get more money in your paycheck. Learn everything you can about how an economy and its people are manipulated through false perceptions of scarcity, the concept and manufacture of “credit,” and the attempt to label time as money when money is really the human attempt to contain and assign value to time. The only way for some people to “make” money without exchanging time is for many others to give time without receiving any money.

 

Please take a moment to submit your comments to President Trump and his administration asking him to negotiate a trade agreement that benefits all of the American people!

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Why Ron Wyden’s Traitorous About Face on #FastTrack for the #TPP?

Author’s update: as of June 23, the Senate voted 60-37 to stop debate on Trade Promotion Authority, also commonly called “Fast Track” for the TPP. The next day the Senate passed TPA and on Monday, June 29, 2015, President Obama signed it into law. THIS DOES NOT MEAN WE’RE DONE FIGHTING. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement itself has not been passed – only President Obama’s ability to “fast track” it (approve it by bypassing Congress’ constitutional right to make amendments to it) BUT there is STILL time if you are reading this now. In fact, please read the inspiring comment from Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch department in the 3 images below explaining that Fast Track was passed before in the late 1990’s in order to be used on the FTAA but after much public outcry, the FTAA was never even voted on! Then please sign PCGTW’s petition declaring that you will never stop fighting the TPP.

 

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The Trans Pacific Partnership “Free” Trade Agreement, if it is passed, will be nothing less than a corporate coup d’etat whose endgame is a total defunding of state and federal government via erosion of the taxpayer base through the strategic disappearance of jobs that provide the income from which that tax is collected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And what happened to Senator Ron Wyden? Ron Wyden who was all “transparency is my middle name”?

 

 

He is so unconcerned about transparency nowadays that he is perfectly content to vote for the constitution-violating process known as “Fast Track” technically termed Trade Promotion Authority [TPA] because it gives all the AUTHORITY to the President (removing any amending capability from the Congress, meaning no changes whatsoever) to approve a trade agreement corporations have helped craft and members of congress can’t even keep a copy of. Seriously. Members of Congress can only read the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement in a locked room and aren’t allowed to take their cell phones or a pen inside and have been forbidden to talk about what they read. So guess who they can’t talk about it with. THEIR CONSTITUENTS. Hmm … I wonder who that would benefit.

 

 

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Corporations.

 

 

 

 

Sound like a reason for concern? Put it this way, would you sign a pre-nup before you had a look-see? This is the lawyers hashing it out, with no consent from either husband or wife regarding the terms of the final contract. (And remember, they’ll be billed hourly. Do the lawyers have a monetary incentive to make a divorce as painful and drawn out as possible? Why, yes! They DO!!)

 

 

So now that Senator Traitor, the one Senator who had the power to stop this whole messy charade in its tracks, has gone to the dark side, it’s one hundred percent relevant that he pulled this same self-serving passive-aggressive rigamarole in 2013. Section 215 ring a bell? Oh, yeah, that time he tried to entrap DNI Clapper into committing a felony and disclosing classified information about the metadata collection. Uh huh, yes, the lying under oath to Congress Snowden was rightfully pissed off about. This is what happened: Pawn Wyden put Clapper in the position of choosing — on the spot on live national television — between answering the question, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” with the word no and committing perjury OR answering the question with the word yes and committing a felony. Nice.

 

 

You can watch the exchange here starting at 3:27 (it should start playing at that moment if all embeds well):

 

 

 

But here’s how Senator Wyden has doubly betrayed his oath to the constitution: he not only already knew about Section 215 because everyone on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence knew about it because they had ALL previously been informed by Clapper himself in a private letter all the way back in 2011, but, as a US Senator, Wyden has something known as “absolute free speech.” This literally means that he could read the *unredacted* Senate Torture Report, in its entirety, on CSPAN, without repercussion. (Well, he might not get re-elected. Then again, a whole new generation might show up to the polls for him.) Or any classified redacted document … including the Section 215 letter (the one from Clapper to the SSCI outlining the metadata collection from 2011). So, instead of, say, taking a picture of it with his phone and posting it on instagram or tweeting that Section 215 letter one word at a time to all his super supportive followers and letting the ACLU know he’s got some juicy retweet fodder, what does he do? He asks a question he knows the DNI is forbidden to answer truthfully when all along, Wyden could have blown the whistle himself! And should have! What a passive-aggressive hypocrite. To really put it in perspective, Wyden could have done exactly what Snowden ended up doing before Snowden — and maybe Snowden never would have!

 

 

To really put it in perspective, Wyden could have done exactly what Snowden ended up doing before Snowden — and maybe Snowden never would have!

 

Ironically, Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA, put it best: “Ron Wyden was trying to trick Jim Clapper into making an admission of classified information that Ron Wyden didn’t have the courage to make himself.” Really think about that (and you can watch him say it in the video below starting at 1:01:50). Hayden is not only saying that Wyden is a coward, he’s saying that if Wyden HAD had the balls to tell the People about Section 215, it would have been courageous! An act of bravery to disclose that classified information. Michael Hayden probably didn’t even realize what he said but his words are tantamount to a request for whistleblowing.

 

 

Once again, my tweets say it shortest and sweetest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now watch this incredible short video made by true patriot Congressman Alan Grayson on the economic evisceration perpetrated by our Congress against our country through NAFTA, and how the TPP is NAFTA on steroids. Anyone who supports the TPP actively desires not only the erosion of our income tax base through the disappearance of our INCOME (via the elimination of our JOBS), they actively desire that we no longer have funds to pay the public servants who make up the agencies of our federal government. Then ask yourself who benefits if we can no longer afford to have a functioning FBI, CIA, FTC, or even an FDA. Now how about a functioning Justice Department. Guess everyone could just languish in prison till they die and never get a trial. Gee, who benefits from that?

 

 

 

 

There’s still time. PLEASE call your Senators and ask them to vote NO on TPA (Trade Promotion Authority) aka Fast Track and no on the TPP altogether. What they need to hear you say are these exact words: “If you vote for TPA, I will vote for your opponent come election day.” Click here to find your Senator’s phone #.

 

 

And oh, yeah, this little reminder about Wyden and Nike sleeping together in the same filthy bed.