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Obama Pushing Through Terrible TPP
Thank god for Harry Reid! Lord knows I've taken the man to task numerous times in the past - but for once he is standing up for the good of the people.
With the corporate media having fallen asleep at the proverbial wheel, President Obama has with little notice requested fast-track on the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), which would eschew congressional debate and acquiesce trade negotiations completely to the executive, ie Obama. While congress has certainly and purposely cast aside it's reputation as an august body over the course of the past few years, they are all that stands in the way of certain doom! Okay, perhaps doom is a bit far...
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has thankfully used his pocket-veto for good, and has at press-time refused to bring fast-track up for a vote. Why is this important? Congress must debate every aspect of this agreement in broad daylight, so we can all see exactly what is in it - not simply allow corporatist Obama unilateral power to make trade policy (as was done with past horrendous trade deals). Leaked versions of the TPP show it would create a corporate-run-and-appointed court which would have the ability to overrule the laws passed and suits brought by the citizens of signatory nations. Laws regarding financial, environmental, & agricultural regulations, the internet and copyrights, intellectual property and patents...
The US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, & Singapore (with others, including China, India and Bangladesh, expressing interest) are in negotiations on the TPP - what could easily be described as NAFTA on steroids. The TPP not only would ship our jobs overseas, it would enshrine corporate power over nation-states. Suddenly, multinational corporations would be superior to sovereign nations and could legally exert their will over them. The will of the people would be null and void. Corporate profit-motives rule.
You want to ban fracking - too bad. You want to ban pesticides in your food - too bad. You want to reign in the big banks - too bad. You want common-carrier and net neutrality - too bad. Multinational corporations want a three-strikes law for the internet, or to extend their patents for decades on end, or to label only what they choose, or to pollute however they choose - guess what? They won't be subject to our laws anymore. They'll have their own self-appointed court to handle it for them.
For 200 years, our country grew and prospered with tariffs. In 1979, Reagan made a campaign-promise that he would pass a "North American accord." He passed the FTA with Canada. Bill Clinton realized Reagan's vision with NAFTA. Dubya passed CAFTA. Why? Our wages had grown and grown for 50 years, the middle class expanded more and more. Suddenly that growth was threatened - by low wages in Mexico...
Why would patriotic American corporations shutter American factories and outsource American jobs? Fiduciary responsibility, and globalization.
These free-trade deals mean to ensure that our trade partners pay higher wages to their workers, leaving corporations with less incentive to ship our jobs there. Which would be nice - if enforced. In exchange, we lift the tariffs on their goods. Instead, corporations have a green light to simply shutter domestic factories and open up shop abroad.
So - how do we compete with China and Bangladesh? By offering a superior setting to do business. First, we need a well-educated work-force. Second, we need roads and bridges to transport goods upon. Third, we need law-enforcement and justice systems that protect workers and businesses alike. Fourth, we need a fair tax code.
Unfortunately, we have school funding tied to property taxes - which ensures that poor neighborhoods have poor schools. We slash the arts and pump money into standardized testing and for-profit schools. Our infrastructure is crumbling and our broadband is weak. We outsource prisons to profit-driven corporations who donate to the people who make the laws. On the plus side, our supreme court is completely corporatist - so there's that. The banks were able to command the police and Homeland Security to crack down on Occupy protesters and stomp on their rights in favor corporate coddling.
The tax code? Well, the corporate share of tax revenue is at it's lowest share in over half a century. Estate taxes and capital gains taxes are a joke. We allow corporations like Apple and Google to make an ish-ton of profits off of our citizens here in the US, only to pay (or not pay, more specifically) taxes in Ireland and Bermuda. States fight each other over how much they can bribe a corporation with tax-giveaways to stay put or leave town.
We allow these same multinational corporations the right to bribe politicians to their heart's content, with little to no transparency. They basically get to write the laws and the tax code to fit their liking.
We've given and given and given to the rich for over 40 years now. They only respond by taking more and more. They want to ship our jobs overseas. They want to eliminate the minimum wage for the jobs that cannot be outsourced. On top of that, they want to steal our earned benefits - the social insurance that we've all been paying into for our entire careers. Worse yet, they've convinced a lot of poor people to blame other poor people for all of their woes, while the wealthy chortle along with occasional lamenting of how they are treated by the pitch-fork wielding masses...