Category Archives: Joe Firestone

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

Get Ready to Call ‘Em Out On the TPP!

So, on May 22, the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) (“Fast Track”) Bill passed the Senate 62 – 37, with 14 Democrats defecting to the pro-Fast TracK/Trade-Pacific Partnership (TPP) forces. However, all was not wine and roses for the Administration and Fast Track/TPP proponents in the Senate.

First, the pro-TPP forces sustained a temporary defeat on May 12, when the Senate would not approve debating Fast Track, introducing delay into the process. The problem was quickly fixed with agreements to consider and vote on related issues such as Trade Adjustment Assistance, forced child labor, and currency manipulation outside of Fast Track. But nevertheless the glitch was unanticipated, and looked bad for an Administration wanting clear sailing in the Senate for Fast Track. Continue reading

TPP: Call ‘Em Out In the House, Now!

In a previous post, I discussed the likelihood that the Fast-Track bill, if it passed the House, would need to return to the Senate again to align the different bills produced by the two Houses. I focused on the importance of Fast-Track/TPP opponents preparing for that return by building the opposition into a movement exerting continuous pressure on Senators to expand the size of the opposition to the bill in both parties.

I also pointed out that an emerging movement should be emphasizing the governance impact of Fast-Track/TPP on national, state, and local sovereignty, separation of powers, consent of the governed and democracy, more than the many other TPP issues that have emerged. In my view, the governance issues are the winning issues against the Fast-Track/TPP initiative for a number of reasons.

This is so because they cut against the beliefs that 1) the people, ought in the final analysis to rule; 2) the independence of the United States is, above all, to be treasured and ought not to be subordinated to corporations and big money; and 3) the United States is an exceptional nation, in part because its governance institutions, with all their warts are still superior to all others on earth. Continue reading

Is Progressivism in the Eye of the Beholder?

Thomas Palley recently blogged a post that was cross-posted at Naked Capitalism where I read it. In it, he discussed the question of whether Hillary Clinton’s apparent intention to run as a progressive in 2016 represents a sincere change in her views, or whether it is just a political communications strategy to please the progressive base of the Democratic Party.

In his analysis, Palley points to Clinton’s failure to answer questions of journalists and to be pinned down to specifics on policy questions. He also points to the fact that the economic advisers who are central to Clintonworld still include Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Peter Orszag, and, I think, he reasonably could have added Gene Sperling and Jack Lew, who are still serving President Obama, but who were two of Bill Clinton’s mainstays. These economists, and others associated with the Clintons had a hand in all the economic policy failures of the past 20 years, and continues with this money quote: Continue reading

TPP: The Fascism Issue

If the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement will, if implemented, and as I’ve argued elsewhere, result in the death of national and state sovereignty, constitutional separation of powers, and democracy, then what system and what principles will replace these things? Eric Zuesse answers that it will be Fascism. And implicitly, that we are going through an evolution from representative democracy to fascism and that trade deals like the TPP, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) mediate the transfer “. . . of democratic national sovereignty to international fascist bodies that represent global corporate management. . . . ”

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Fast/Track/TPP: The Death of National Sovereignty, State Sovereignty, Separation of Powers, and Democracy

Most of the critical attention given to the Fast Track Trade Agreement legislation and to the associated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Congressional – Executive Agreement on mainstream corporate media and by politicians and establishment interest groups interacting with them in the beltway echo chamber, has focused on the likely or possible economic impacts of these. But relatively little attention has focused on sovereignty, constitutional separation of powers, or democracy impacts, which however are being covered increasingly well in alternative social media. See here, here, here, and here.

In hopes of breaking through this fragmentation by type of media of the debate over the TPP, I’ll focus this post only on governance impacts and try to make the case, that this so-called trade agreement, if passed and implemented would create profound governance changes in the United States without benefit of the constitutional amendments that would normally be required to accomplish such changes. I’ll also make the case that the governance impacts destroy national sovereignty, state sovereignty, separation of powers, and democracy.

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Ridiculing Concerns About TPP Tyranny

People who support the Administration’s efforts on the TPP have been known to reply to my posts on this subject by attempting to ridicule the scenarios I’ve presented as possible under the TPP Agreement as “out there” speculation of the tin foil variety that will never actually happen. For those who think that my examples of what is possible under the TPP are just this kind of speculation, please keep in mind that I don’t have the proposed draft agreements to work from.

This is due to the President’s decision to classify the drafts and seek Fast Track Authority before disclosing them more freely even to Congress for an up or down vote. However, there is no indication from anyone that the actual drafts of the agreement contain rules that would definitively prevent the possible very damaging consequences I’ve mentioned here for example. Continue reading