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tpp-crap

By Arthur Stamolis

No, Trump Didn’t Kill the TPP — Progressives Did

If you read the headlines, Donald Trump’s election has killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The headlines have it wrong.

Donald Trump didn’t kill the TPP. Assuming we see the fight through to the bitter end, it’s the cross-border, cross-sector, progressive “movement of movements” that will have defeated the TPP.
While overshadowed by Trump’s election, this victory will be one of the biggest wins against concentrated corporate power in our lifetimes, and it holds lessons we should internalize as we steel ourselves for the many challenges we face heading into the Trump years.

Under the banner reading “A New Deal or No Deal,” the first cross-sector demonstration against the TPP in the United States was in June 2010 — a full six years before Trump became the official Republican nominee. Held outside the TPP’s first U.S.-based negotiating round, it featured advocates from the labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, indigenous rights and other social justice movements.

While we didn’t outright oppose the TPP at that time, we warned we would organize against it if it didn’t represent a radical departure from trade deals (of the) past that put corporate interests ahead of working families, public health and the environment.

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It took years of protests at subsequent rounds in Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Maui and elsewhere — coupled with hundreds of other protests in cities and towns across the U.S. and around the world — to slowly, but surely, put the TPP on progressive groups’ radar.

Over that time, first thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands and then literally millions of Americans signed letters and petitions urging the Obama administration and Congress to abandon TPP negotiations that gave corporate lobbyists a seat at the table, while keeping the public in the dark.

We were up against Wall Street, Big Ag, Big Oil, Big Pharma, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the President of the United States, the leadership of Congress — in short, we were up against some of the most powerful economic and political interests in human history.
Countless people told us we had no chance of winning. But we persevered. Our allies abroad did yeoman’s work convincing their governments to reject the most draconian proposals from U.S. negotiators — something that dragged out the negotiations for years, giving us all more time to organize.

Together, globally-coordinated progressive coalitions from a host of different countries developed and publicized analyses of the TPP, pushing out leaked texts when our governments refused to tell us what they were proposing in our names, and hacking away week after week against media blackouts, relying heavily on independent media, social media and word-of-mouth to inform the most active elements of the public about the power grab underway.

In the U.S., after reaching out to groups one at a time to pull them into this fight, more than 2,000 organizations had signed statements opposing “fast track” for the TPP by April 2015. This, again, was before Trump had even announced his candidacy.

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An incredibly diverse array of organizations and individual activists were constantly sharing information and strategically coordinating their efforts to pressure key elected officials, such that we built a majority of opposition to the TPP in Congress — despite all the big-money interests fighting hard on the other side.

Check the timeline here. The TPP negotiations concluded in October 2015. The pact could have — and absolutely would have—been approved by Congress as early as February 2016 if the votes were there to pass it. Progressives’ work ensured the votes weren’t there. Keep in mind that there were still twelve major Republican nominees competing for President at that time, with Jeb Bush one of the favorites. Donald Trump had nothing to do with it.

Progressives stopped the thing then, and we pushed a threatened vote back week by week, month by month, until Congress broke for the summer recess. We knew a last-gasp attempt to pass the TPP might come post-election during the “Lame Duck” session of Congress, but we already had the votes lined up and were poised to defeat it should the administration dare bring it forward, regardless of whether Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or anyone else was elected to the White House.

We must remain vigilant to ensure there are no last-second surprises before the end of the year, but for now, it appears the White House has seen the writing on the wall, and has given up trying to finalize the TPP. Let’s make sure we’re not letting Trump steal credit for something he didn’t earn. And let’s especially make sure that the movement of movements is getting the credit it deserves. We’re heading into some very rough years ahead, and people need to be reminded of their power.

As formidable as our opposition is, when we come together across issue areas and geographic borders, we have more power. When we have each others’ backs, we can still win. As for the future of trade policy, even if we’re able to ensure that President Trump keeps his campaign promises and doesn’t dust off the TPP in years to come, and even if we’re able to convince him to abandon the TPP-like Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty, his views on what should come next are clearly in no way aligned with our own.

Trump’s vision of internationalism is not one of human rights, worker rights, sustainability and improving standards of living. The President-elect is a man who, among other things, thinks that workers are overpaid, is hostile to unions, denies climate science and embraces authoritarian regimes.

We’ve all got a lot of work to do.

Arthur Stamolis

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From Arthur Stamolis of CitizensTradeCampaign.Org (words in parenthesis mine)

Just last year, the U.S. State Department listed Malaysia among the world’s worst countries when it comes to human trafficking. While exact counts are impossible to come by, we’re likely talking about millions of people affected. Many of these modern-day slaves end up not only as prostitutes and domestic servants, but working in Malaysia’s export-oriented electronics and palm oil sectors. One-third of all electronics workers in Malaysia are estimated to be trafficking victims. (Some of these slaves will likely wind up working for US corporations, their contractors and subcontractors, should Malaysia be included in the TPP. This means US workers making $30 an hour will need to compete against slaves. Thank you Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden!)

Less you think this is anything less awful and barbaric than it really is, just this spring, dozens of trafficking camps with guard posts, barbed wire and their own mass graves were uncovered in the country’s jungles. A human rights campaigner said at the time, “The only way these kinds of camps could operate was with the support of military, police and politicians who were either directly involved or were paid to look the other way.”

The Fast Track legislation recently passed by Congress — as awful as it was — at least included a provision against fast tracking trade deals with the worst human trafficking abusers. Rather than requiring the Malaysian to clean up its act before it joins the TPP, the Obama administration has reportedly chosen to just write the problem away with a new trafficking report that says the country is no longer that big of a concern. (What an asshole we have as a president)

Top human rights advocates all agree the sudden “upgrading” of Malaysia’s trafficking status has nothing to do with human rights improvements, and everything to do with greasing the skids for the TPP, which means greasing the skids for Wall Street and the 0.01 percent to financially rape and pillage the 99 percent since the TPP is nothing more than an income and political power redistribution scam falsely marketed as a free trade agreement, and its political supporters all know this. They aren’t stupid little boys and girls.

A “stunned” Human Rights Watch representative said Malaysia has done very little in the past year to protect trafficking victims, and “This would seem to be some sort of political reward from the United States.”

An Amnesty International representative further argued that “Malaysia’s anti-trafficking efforts have been severely wanting,” and that “the U.S.’s willingness to sidestep one of the world’s worst rights crises” was instead motivated by “the value of trade this would bring.”

TAKE ACTION NOW: Please urge your U.S. Representative to speak out against attempts to cook the books in the State Department’s forthcoming human trafficking report.

For more on this subject, click the following link, first-remains-brought-down-malaysias-human-trafficking-camps–Asia One.

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Obam-Train-NRD-600

From Arthur Stamolis of Citizen’s Fair Trade Campaign:

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote again on Fast Track legislation for the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Tuesday morning, and several Democratic Senators still hasn’t committed to vote NO.

Please write your Senators now, urging them to vote against “cloture” for Fast Track, and please join us at one of the critical rallies below taking place this Monday.

Last month, too many Senators voted wrong on Fast Track. This time, however, the Senate is being asked to vote on an even worse Fast Track package — one that, in addition to allowing the TPP to be rushed through Congress, could also weaken human trafficking measures; eliminate simple currency measures and other enforcement provisions; and even prohibit the consideration of climate solutions in future trade negotiations. Yep, we’re going to discover on Tuesday which senators support these things.

Fast Track is bad for the economy, public health and the environment in our communities and around the world. On the eve of the new vote, join us in urging your Senator to vote NO!

Here’s the current list of rallies:

CALIFORNIA
Rally to Stop Fast Track (Sen. Feinstein)
Monday, June 22 * 1:00pm
Senator Feinstein’s Fresno Office
2500 Tulare St, Ste 4290
Fresno, CA
Contact: Stan Santos, ssantos@cwa9408.org

Rally to Stop Fast Track (Sen. Feinstein)
Monday, June 22 * 12:00 noon
Senator Feinstein’s Los Angeles Office
11111 Santa Monica Blvd, Suite 915
Los Angeles, CA
Contact: Adrian Acosta, aacosta@cwa-union.org

Rally to Stop Fast Track (Sen. Feinstein)
Monday, June 22 * 12:00 noon
Senator Feinstein’s San Diego Office
880 Front Street, Suite 3296
San Diego, CA 92101
Contact: Nicole “Kali” Gochmanosky, kali@citizenstrade.org

Rally to Stop Fast Track (Sen. Feinstein)
Monday, June 22 * 12:00 noon
Senator Feinstein’s San Francisco Office
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA
Contact: Xiomara Castro, xiomara@citizenstrade.org

DELAWARE
Rally to Stop Fast Track (Sen. Carper)
Monday, June 22 * 3:00pm
Senator Tom Carper’s Wilmington Office
310 North Walnut Street
Wilmington, DE
Contact: Scott Reynolds, sreynold@aflcio.org

Rally to Stop Fast Track (Sen. Coons)
Monday, June 22nd * 2:00pm
Senator Chris Coons’ Wilmington Office
American International Building
1105 N. Market Street
Wilmington, DE
Contact: Sam Bernhardt, sbernhardt@fwwatch.org

FLORIDA
Rally to Stop Fast Track (Sen. Nelson)
Monday, June 22 * 12:00 noon
Senator Bill Nelson’s Miami-Dade Office
2555 Ponce De Leon Blvd
Coral Gables, Florida
Contact: Deborah Dion, dion.deborah@gmail.com

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Rally to Stop Fast Track (Sen. Shaheen)
Monday, June 22 * 11:30am
Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s Manchester Office
1589 Elm Street, Ste 3
Machester, NH
Contact: Daniel Justice, Djustice@aflcio.org

OREGON
Rally to Stop Fast Track (Sen. Wyden)
Monday, June 22 * 5:45pm
Senator Wyden’s Portland Office
911 NE 11th Ave
Portland, OR
Contact: Elizabeth Swager, elizabeth@citizenstrade.org

WASHINGTON
Rally to Stop Fast Track (Sens. Murray; Cantwell)
Monday, June 22 * 5:30pm
Henry M Jackson Federal Building
915 2nd Ave
Seattle, WA
Contact: Gillian Locascio, gillian@washingtonfairtrade.org

Can’t make any of these rallies? You can still make a difference by forwarding this message to friends and family, and by emailing your Senators now.

The coming vote will be extremely close, but, together, we can win it. Please make sure your Senators hear from you again before Tuesday.

Many thanks,

Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director
CITIZENS TRADE CAMPAIGN

Online: citizenstrade.org
Twitter: @citizenstrade

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Fast-Track-NRD-600

 

From Arthur Stamolis of Citizen’s Trade Campaign

Hi everyone:

Congratulations on yesterday’s impressive victory! In case you missed it, the House voted to block Fast Track from moving forward — a huge win for Main Street over Wall Street, and a testament to your years of strategic organizing. Thank you!

Unfortunately, the offshorers, the polluters, the lobbyists and the profiteers haven’t given up quite yet, so we’ve got more work to do — and we need to get to back to work fast.

Here’s how Friday’s win went down: the House separated the Fast Track bill passed by the Senate into two parts. First was a vote on an inadequately-funded and exclusionary Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program for displaced workers. Then was a vote on the Fast Track process itself. Both parts needed to pass for the bill to pass. You can see how Reps voted on TAA  here and how they voted on the Fast Track process here. Bottom line: when TAA was voted down, the entire Fast Track bill was sunk.

After the vote, Speaker Boehner called for a re-vote on TAA. That vote is supposed to happen within two legislative days, so it’ll either be on Monday or Tuesday (although the Speaker may be able to find ways to extend that if he wants). Voting on Monday starts at noon Eastern, so that’s the earliest the re-vote could occur.

It’s critical that we are profusely THANKING those who voted against TAA and Fast Track and urging them to do so again. We also need to keep respectfully trying with those who voted for TAA, but against Fast Track — urging them to vote against TAA next week. (No-holds-barred with those politicians who voted for both.)

Unfortunately, there is still some confusion about the proposed TAA program even among our allies, and you’d better believe the White House, Republican leadership and others are working overtime this weekend to increase that confusion.

Here’s what you need to know about TAA. Normally, we’re all for it. It’s an important lifeline that provides job retraining benefits to people whose careers are shipped abroad as a result of bad U.S. trade policy. But nobody in their right mind would ever argue that a job retraining program is a smart trade-off for rubber-stamping massive trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that will offshore jobs, drive down wages and more. That’s what a vote for TAA next week is. It’s a vote for Fast Tracking the TPP. The current TAA proposal is a cynical ploy that needs to be stopped.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the TAA program being offered isn’t even a strong one. It excludes public sector workers whose jobs are offshored and it is significantly under-funded. The $700 million in Medicare cuts made to pay for it may be partially addressed, assuming the Senate goes along, but even if that is fixed, another $250 million in cuts to a Medicare kidney dialysis program and a whole lot of political liability are still in there.

The good news is that Republican leadership and the White House face a heavy lift to win on TAA next week, as we destroyed the measure in a 126 – 302 vote on Friday. That said, the President wants this BAD. Speaker Boehner wants this BAD. We need to keep pushing so that we win that vote, and that we win whatever sorry plan Team TPP comes up with next to try to squeeze Fast Track through this month.

They know the clock is ticking on the TPP, and they’re going to keep trying — at least for a while. We are winning. Here’s what we need to keep it going:

* If you represent an organization, please make sure to call any Reps who voted against Fast Track and the TAA this weekend and early on Monday to thank them and urge them to do so again.

* If you haven’t yet, please send a personal email now thanking or spanking your representative for their votes on Friday.

* Take a moment to look up your your Reps Twitter and Facebook accounts, and spend a couple moments on social media today urging them to vote against Fast Track and the cynical TAA ploy next week.

Be ready for any rapid-response action requests that come early next week. Again, we could see new voting as soon as Monday.

Together, we’re going to keeping riding this wave of success. Thank you again for everything you’ve done to get us this far.

In solidarity,

Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director
CITIZENS TRADE CAMPAIGN

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