Category Archives: Joe Firestone

TPP: 13 Democratic Senators Invite Republicans to Make Them Laughing Stocks and More Serious Matters

The cloture vote in the Senate is now done, making the TPA vote itself a mere formality. The vote was 60 – 37 in favor of cloture with 13 of the 14 original Democratic defectors (Ben Cardin was the exception) sticking with the multinational corporations, the President, and all but five of the Republicans in supporting cloture. Supporters of cloture celebrated the bipartisan nature of the vote, as if Americans who lose their jobs and their sovereignty as a consequence of it, and the things it enables, will look more favorably on what they did because both major parties did it. Continue reading

TPP: Will Voters Re-elect Laughing Stocks to the Senate?

Let’s review the devious process for passing the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill devised by the Republicans I outlined in my last post. It has the following steps:

– Step one: the House passes a TPA bill without passing Trade Adjustments Assistance (TAA); then

– Step two: the Republicans in the Senate give assurances to Senate Democrats that TAA will be passed by the Senate and later the House;

– Step three: the Senate then passes the House’s TPA bill, and then sends it to the President; then Continue reading

TPP: Fast –Track Is Back: Shall It Pass?

Under this plan, they say, the President and the Republicans get what they want, and so do the free trade Democrats (as without their saying it do the funders of both parties). In addition, the free trade Democrats have the TAA fig leaf they believe they need to defend them against primary challengers and Republicans who may run against them saying that the sold out American workers and national sovereignty to foreigners.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t It? But here are the process problems with it.

Step one assumes that a clean TPA bill can pass the House. Proponents of this step assume that this will happen because 191 Republicans and 28 Democrats, a total of 219 members of the House, passed such a bill last Friday, June 12th, while 54 Republicans and 157 Democrats, or 211 members voted to defeat it. Continue reading

TPP: Fast –Track, the Next Rounds In Congress

The roll call 126-302 vote (Roll call 361) defeating the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill was a result worth a little celebrating on Friday, since it was a very decisive victory on that particular vote, and also stopped the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) fast track bill from being sent to the President’s desk for signature. If the vote on TAA hadn’t failed, it would have been far more difficult (I don’t say impossible as many do) to defeat all manner of “free trade” agreements (aka multinational sovereignty agreements), including the currently scheduled Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services (TiSA) agreements over the next year or so.

Everything we know about these agreements is that they would have been a disaster for all but an extremely small segment of the people of the United States. So, we ought to be overjoyed that, for now, fast-track is stalled in the House, and may get pigeon-holed there for quite some time to come, if the re-vote on TAA fails. Still as Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, and Bill Black say in their recent posts, this stall may be short-lived if we don’t keep up the pressure and make sure that the Republicans and Democrats in Congress, along with the President are, unsuccessful in reversing Friday’s vote on the TAA. Continue reading

Fast –Track: It Looks Like It’s In Pelosi’s Lap or Maybe Not!

There are 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats in the House. Republicans, led by John Boehner and Paul Ryan, say they are confident about having enough votes to hold a successful floor vote on Friday, June 12th.. However, Politico reports that Republican sources are saying they will get anywhere from 180 – 200 votes for fast-track, which doesn’t sound very different from their at least 190 vote estimate as of June 3rd.

So, that leaves anywhere from 46 – 66 Republican opponents of the legislation. The top of this range is very near the maximum of 57 Republicans that TPP opponents have previously estimated could vote against it, except that on the high side it acknowledges the possibility that Republicans may have lost ground compared to a week ago.

Last week, also, supporters of the bill reportedly could not count on more than 17 Democrats to vote for it, and no more than 20 after all the maneuvering and politicking has occurred. Today, the number of committed TPP Democrats seems to be 20, with the recent addition of Don Beyer (D-VA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), and Jim Himes (D-CT). So, it appears not much progress has been made toward the 218 votes required to carry the fast-track authority in spite of all the activity and much posturing from the pro-TPP forces. Continue reading

TPP: Jim Himes (D-CT), Another Putting “Free Trade” Above National Sovereignty and Democracy

This is another in a series on Democratic Representatives who recently decided that pleasing their President, and their minority leader in the House, and protecting the expectations of potential profits of multinational corporations, was more important than protecting democracy, national, state, and local sovereignty, American Jobs, the environment, the climate, the capability to regulate corporate behavior for the public good, and net neutrality, among may other valuable things. In my previous posts I covered the statements of Don Beyer, Democrat of Virginia’s 8th District and then Kathleen Rice, Democrat of New York’s 4th.

This time the focus of my attention will be Jim Himes (D-CT) who represents the 4th Congressional District in Connecticut. I’ll be doing a point-by-point critique of his reasons for announcing his support of the TPP. Continue reading

TPP: Kathleen Rice (D-NY) Is the Latest to Put “Free Trade” Above National Sovereignty and Democracy

I blogged a critique of Don Beyer, Democratic Representative in the Virginia 8th Congressional District to protest his announcement of support for the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill followed by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) legislation. This past Saturday, Kathleen Rice (D-NY, 4th Congressional District) became the latest to join President Obama’s effort to elevate corporations above the people through the TPA, followed by the TPP legislation, and, he hopes the passage later on of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). This post is my reply to Congressman Rice’s justification, in talking point/response format, for joining the pro- fast track-TPP forces. Continue reading

TPP: Don Beyer (D-VA) Puts “Free Trade” Above National Sovereignty and Democracy

Recently, my wife, Bonnie, sent an e-mail to Don Beyer, our Democratic Representative in the Virginia 8th Congressional District to express her opinion opposing fast-track/TPP and to tell him that she wanted him to vote against it in Congress. In reply, she received a form e-mail which was non-responsive to hers, but also stated his support for all four trade bills and his talking points on the subject.

Congressman Beyer’s e-mail made her angry and she asked that since I’m the writer in the family, I write a reply from both of us for him. Since drafting this reply, I’ve learned that Don Beyer has announced his support for fast-track in a statement on his web site. Below is our reply to him, in talking point/response format, sometimes cast in the first person, for his consideration, and anyone else’s who is interested in “free trade” agreements. Continue reading

TPP: State of Play in the House

The Republicans and the Administration still can’t count on the 217 votes needed to pass Fast-Track, according to Politico. There are 245 Republicans and 188 Democrats in the House. Republicans are now “feeling new found optimism that at least 190 of their lawmakers” will support fast-track. So, that leaves 55 Republican opponents. Very near the maximum of 57 that TPP opponents have estimated could vote against it.

A few days ago, supporters of the bill reportedly could not count on more than 17 Democrats to vote for it, and no more than 20 after all the maneuvering and politicking has occurred. Today, the number of committed TPP Democrats seems to be 18. So, it appears not much progress has been made toward the 217 votes required to carry the measure, and the pro-TPP forces still have 9 votes to get, provided they don’t lose any of the 18 Democrats, called out publicly by Alan Grayson on June 1st, much to the regret and/or consternation of Steny Hoyer, perhaps the rest of the House leadership, and, at least some of the 18 Democrats called out. Continue reading

The Volcker Rule Doesn’t Violate NAFTA

This one is for the Finance Minister of Canada, Joe Oliver. He erroneously claims that the Volcker rule, implemented as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, violates The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed into law on December 8, 1993.

Oliver says that the Volcker Rule prohibits US banks from trading AAA rated Canadian Government debt thereby violating free trade under NAFTA. The US government has denied any such violation.

I think the US Government has the better of this one. And it’s interesting to consider why this is true. Continue reading