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

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Yves here. The vote in the House on Fast Track authority may come on Thursday. Please call your representative and enlist family, friends and colleagues. Let me repeat this important advice from As reader Kokuanani:

The staff members reading e-mails and answering the phones are only reporting the volume of incoming communication and which “side” it supports. Your fabulous essay on the evils of the TPP and Fast Track will never reach the voting member. So don’t waste your time writing it.

Pick one or two arguments [e.g., “secrecy”] and make them. Briefly. Like a sentence or two. Spend the rest of your time getting friends and family to contact Senate offices. The e-mail forms [links provided by Yves] make this ridiculously easy. All you need is a zip code showing you’re in the state. You can walk your pals through the process.

I don’t know how effective contacting the DNC would be, but it can’t hurt, and can alert them that they can’t rely on you for fund-raising or votes.

Here is page for contact information for Representatives.

Kokuanani added last week:

Don’t forget the “district office” in your list of places/ways to contact. NC has provided a handy list of addresses to write or e-mail the member in Washington, but if you look in the phone book, [under “US Government”], you should be able to find your member’s local office. Perhaps they’re lonely for constituent contact; why not drop by & see….

Again, your goal is not to “convince” the Member or his/her staff re how terrible TPP is. It’s to let them know that YOU know how horrid it is, that you’ll be watching their vote, and that you’re telling all your family, friends and neighbors about this, and they’ll be watching too. Congress-folks fear the awareness and activity of their constituents.

By Joe Firestone, Ph.D., Managing Director, CEO of the Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI), and Director of KMCI’s CKIM Certificate program. He taught political science as the graduate and undergraduate level and blogs regularly at Corrente, Firedoglake and New Economic Perspectives. Originally published at New Economic Perspectives

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.

Beyer supports the whole Administration trade package, including the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), (fast-track) the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA)

Thank you for being in touch regarding the upcoming package of four critical trade bills. This is one of the most important issues facing this Congress, and I have met with many constituents and interest groups about it.

In the coming weeks, I expect to vote in support of this trade package, requested by President Obama and passed through the Senate with significant bipartisan majorities, including both of Virginia’s Democratic Senators. These bills, including Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), will establish historic multilateral negotiations with our international trade partners while securing important worker protections for American jobs and trade support to developing economies, critical to global poverty alleviation efforts.

I’m sorry, Congressman, but since the negotiating texts of the projected treaties are “secret” relative to members of the public like ourselves, unless they’ve been leaked by some brave, public-spirited souls, and are even very difficult for Congresspeople to see, read, understand, and evaluate, my wife and I cannot simply accept on your say-so that these trade agreements, will protect American workers against job losses, resulting in a net of new jobs for Americans at higher pay after they are implemented. In our view we elected you to represent us, not to think for us.

Also, even though my wife and I care a great deal about developing economies and global poverty alleviation efforts, we are far more concerned about the issues of economic development, inequality and poverty alleviation right here at home. In addition, we’d like to remind you that you represent the people in your Congressional District and owe your first loyalty to them and to the national interests of the United States, rather than to the objectives of facilitating developing economies and global poverty alleviation.

It is we with whom you share a social and political contract obligating you to seek the consent of the governed among the people you represent. In supporting TPA “fast-track” authority to facilitate passing the trade package you refer to, while failing to disclose the contents of the negotiating text, you are not fulfilling your obligation to seek the consent of the governed. But, instead, are seeking to impose this package upon us and on the other people in your district, without us being able to express ourselves, or give you our evaluation of these treaties, prior to your giving up, through fast-track, the authority to amend the proposed treaties based on our input about their contents.

This is undemocratic and simply unacceptable. For supporting this alone, you ought to be defeated in the next election. My wife and I did not vote for you in 2014 so you could support what you say you support now. Your support of this package is a betrayal of our trust in you, and we will not forget that betrayal.

Beyer supports the trade bills because they’re about “free trade” and he believes in that. However, these deals are about corporate control and violation of his oath of office, while his view of “free trade” is a fantasy.

I am, by education and political philosophy, a free trade Democrat. I was born overseas, my U.S. Army father stationed in Italy. I worked in Switzerland for four years as U.S. Ambassador. I have sold and serviced international nameplate cars for more than 40 years. I have seen, up close, the enormous impact trade has on our way of life.

A sustainable economy cannot grow from within. The United States has less than five percent of the global population, and we must be able to sell our products and services to the rest of the world.

No one is against trade, least of all my wife and I. And we certainly need and want to enjoy its benefits. However, these needs and desires of ours have nothing to do with the “free trade agreements” you refer to as part of this package. Nor would they necessarily have anything to do with other trade agreements that this President and his successor may be able to railroad through Congress after our representatives gives up their full authority to negotiate, advise and consent on foreign trade as authorized by the Constitution, including their authority to amend what the President has negotiated.

Your view about free trade and its benefits applies to a fantasy world, but not to the world we live in. Simon Johnson and Andrei Levchenko show how the TPP may very likely depart from the principles of free trade that theoretically would benefit all parties to trade.

Joe Stieglitz has called the TPP “managed trade” and not “free trade.” Also, the leaked provisions of the TPP and other “trade agreements” have shown that these agreements are far more about corporate control over the laws national, state and local governments may implement and sustain than they are about international trade that is in the public interest.

This is clear from the leaked provisions on the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) portion of the TPP. These provisions say that multinational corporations will be able to sue governments at all levels and win large judgments against them, in what are basically corporation-run supra-national tribunals.

According to ISDS, there is no appeal to national authorities from decisions of these tribunals. So in agreeing to abide by their decisions, governments are giving up their sovereignty and the sovereignty of the people in their democracies to tribunals that are in no way accountable to the public.

You, Don Beyer, have no right to participate in such arrangements or even to contemplate legislating them, since you have taken an oath of office to defend the Constitution of the United States. Where does it say, or where is it implied in the Constitution that you have the authority to vote to comply with the decisions of supra-national institutions that are unaccountable to the American people under that Constitution? Supporting the TPP’s ISDS provisions is a violation of your oath of office. You ought to stop it immediately.

If you favor TPP-like arrangements, then you are free to follow proper procedures to try amending the US Constitution in order to allow a gift of quasi-legislative powers to multinational corporations through ISDS-like provisions. That is the proper way to go about passing something like the ISDS.

But to try to get ISDS provisions passed as part of a Congressional-Executive Agreement, negotiated in secret, and confirmed or defeated through an up or down vote in the Congress, is simply beyond the legitimate authority of you and other TPP supporters. The result of these efforts, if successful, will be an agreement that has no legitimacy with the American people and that will never be willingly accepted by them.

You will see this clearly if you are successful, in passing these agreements, when those ISDS judgments begin to hit, and Congresspeople have to face uncomfortable questions about how they’re going to pay for damages awarded by ISDS tribunals to multinational corporations. You will also see it clearly when demonstrations and protests of the TPP never go away. Finally, you will see it clearly when the US Supreme Court someday rules on the constitutionality of the TPP, when plaintiffs who have had to pay higher taxes to cover the costs of TPP awards sue in US Courts on constitutionality grounds.

If they are passed, then popular resistance against the TPP, TTIP, and TISA around the world will never, never stop. People will simply never accept the elevation, in these agreements, of corporate authority over popular sovereignty.

What will you do, when an ISDS tribunal delivers a $20 Billion judgment against the US government, and Paul Ryan or some of his colleagues insist that the award must be paid for by cutting spending for the unemployed, or for social security recipients, or for Medicare and Medicaid recipients? How will you deal with that? Will you tell us it wasn’t your fault? It was the evil Republicans!

You have the chance to eliminate the possibility that something like this will ever happen. Take that opportunity! Beat fast-track now, and kill these agreements.

And before you say such awards will never happen, please keep in mind that little Ecuador has already sustained a $2.3 Billion judgment on behalf of Occidental Petroleum in an ISDS dispute over “expected lost profits” authorized by the bilateral “free trade” agreement between Ecuador and the United States. An award against the United States of similar proportions given the size of our economy compared to Ecuador’s, would be $340 Billion.

How would you handle an award of this size if given to a multinational trading in the United States? How would you pay for it? Do you think you could do that by raising the $340 Billion through taxing the wealthy? If not whose hide would you take the award out of?

Beyer wants us to pay attention to the central goals of the trade agreements and not worry about their specific arrangements and institutions for achieving these goals.

The central goals of the proposed new trade agreements – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – are to reduce other nations’ high barriers to American trade AND to elevate the environmental and labor regulations in those countries. For example, information technology and communications products face tariffs of up to 35 percent in TPP countries. Malaysia currently taxes U.S. auto imports in favor of their Asian neighbors. Even Australia restricts U.S. turkey imports to protect domestic producers.

I’m sorry, but my wife and I aren’t interested in the stated goals of the TPP, and the other trade agreements. What we are interested in is the specific measures written into these negotiated agreements to achieve the stated goals and to enforce violations of agreed upon standards and regulations.

We are mindful of the history of enforcement of agreements, laws, regulations, and standards, against parties to bilateral trade agreements and relations in so-called “free trade” agreements already in operation. The enforcement of these has been infrequent and ineffective, and the chances of attempts at enforcement of violations going forward are slim and none.

We have seen how past Presidents, both Republicans and Democrats have failed to engage in any serious enforcement of the provisions of trade agreements and have allowed foreign “trade partners” to violate the principles of free and fair trade without any attempt by the Executive Branch to call them to account. We need reciprocity and mutuality in trade and we need mechanisms of enforcement that are beyond politics and the needs of class warfare and campaign financing. Until you can design and include such mechanisms in “free trade” agreements, make these public and submit them to full Congressional consideration long before any up or down vote is called, we demand that you vote against both expedited procedure bills like the TPA and further “free trade” agreements such as the ones you are considering now.

Pay attention to the requirements written into these trade bills, but forget about the track record of lack of enforcement of previous trade agreements and don’t worry about “why this time things will be different.”

Under TPA, the US will require our trading partners to protect the right to form a union and bargain collectively, and to enforce workplace safety rules. We will require our trading partners to enforce rules against overfishing, illegal logging and wildlife trafficking. And if they don’t, they will be subject to American trade sanctions.

That’s a brave and forthright statement. Now make public the provisions of the TPP and the other agreements that would allow these wonderful things to occur, so that we can judge for ourselves whether these promises are likely to be kept.

We believe advocates of these agreements need to frankly acknowledge the failure of previous free trade agreements since the conclusion of NAFTA, to achieve their promised free trade goals due to the previously mentioned lack of enforcement. In view of this history, we approach new deals with a great deal of skepticism and lack of trust.

The only way to overcome this lack of trust is for you to trust us and for advocates of these agreements, including and especially the President, to make the provisions of these agreements public, so we are able to judge for ourselves whether or not “this time will be different.” Quite frankly, the leaks and disclosures we have seen relating to TPP, TTIP, and TISA do not support the view that “this time will be different.” Rather, they support the view that these agreements are the biggest scam of all – a virtual turnover by our government of our democratic policy space to the will of multinational corporations subject to no external authority but each other.

”I’ve been to all the briefings. . . ” and “. . . have carefully read most all of the relevant material.”

There have been many briefings on Capitol Hill this year on the pros and cons of TPA and other possible trade agreements. I have tried to attend every one possible, and have carefully read most all of the relevant material.

Well, I’ll bet you haven’t read any of the material linked to here. However, if your claim to detailed study of these issues is really true, then why is it that you apparently cannot recognize that subjecting our governments to fines from a supra-national authority with no recourse by our governments to their decisions, however unjust, is, in fact, a turnover of our sovereignty, as well as a violation of separation of powers?

And, by the way, as long as we’re on the subject of sovereignty, how is it that you think that Congress has the right to subject the legislative authority of the American States in the spheres reserved for them by the Constitution (the tenth amendment) to international bodies like the ISDS tribunals?

How can Congress give away the rights of States to govern solely in certain spheres when the Constitution did not grant authority over these rights to Congress itself? Have you given any thought to this Federalism issue in the context of ISDS provisions?

The US has a trade surplus with our FTA partners and huge deficits with non-FTA partners such as China, so we need a major free trade agreement with China’s neighbors

The U.S. has a trade surplus in goods with our Free Trade Agreement partners, as compared to huge deficits with countries with whom we do not have trade agreements. Of course, we run a large trade deficit with China, which is all the more reason to negotiate a major agreement with its neighbors.

Sorry, I don’t follow this tenuous argument. First, “the trade partners” with which we have FTAs are in many instances nations that don’t compete with us in manufacturing, so cherry-picked results aggregated from a large group of nations as given by a lobbyist for these deals, aren’t a basis for predicting that large-scale “free trade” agreements will produce lower trade deficits. And when we look at FTAs with more significant nations such as Mexico, Korea, and Canada we see the kinds of problems likely to occur with Japan, and China, as well, if we ever did negotiate a “free trade” deal with them. (The TPP includes Japan of course.)

Second, on China, if its trade deficit with us is such a big problem, then why not negotiate a “free trade” agreement with them? Why should our trade deficit with them decline because the TPP, the TTIP, and TISA exist and because we have agreements with their neighbors?

Of course, we also have a very large trade deficit right now with Japan, so I have to ask you: why should we believe that the provisions of this trade agreement will lead to a decline in that deficit? Please outline for my wife and I, the causal mechanisms that will reduce the trade deficit with Japan, if we have a “free trade” agreement. What’s going to force that to happen?

And incidentally, even if you could explain this, why wouldn’t the same result be achieved with a bilateral agreement with Japan? Why do we need the TPP, and TISA to deal with them?

Don Beyer is convinced that all the objections and concerns about the Trade Agreements and the ISDS provisions in them are insufficient to overcome the powerful benefits of these trade agreements negotiated “. . . on American terms.”

I am convinced that the objections raised – from concern about the ability to enforce the higher standards, to confusion about mediation between investors and states, to fears about net job loss – are well-intentioned, but insufficient to overcome the powerful benefits of moving forward with expanded trade relations on American terms.

I’m glad you feel comfortable making such a broad and general statement. But again without forthrightly facing up to all the problems with these agreements, through a more detailed analysis spelling out just how the benefits of the TPP and the other agreements are so great that they justify taking the risks suggested by the host of likely and possible problems with it, my wife and I can’t take your assurances seriously.

In particular, for you to propose that the United States ought to compromise National, State, and local sovereignty, consent of the governed, our Constitution, the sovereignty of the American people over multinational corporations doing business within our borders, and our democracy, and to identify the ISDS provisions as “American terms,” is particularly egregious. If you continue to support the TPP with the outrageous ISDS provisions, then my wife and I will continue to think that your support for fast-track, along with the three trade agreements, is a violation of your oath of office and your duties to your constituents and to the American people.

We are sorry to have to say that, but we don’t see what other conclusion we can draw when you are willing to negotiate “American terms” agreeing to subject US Governments at all levels to decisions made by foreign tribunals unaccountable to our Government or to the American people. How can you advocate for and vote for a trade agreement giving foreign entities that kind of power over the US and still claim that you are defending our laws and our constitution?

Human rights and national security

President Obama has made the strong case that if the United States does not set the rules for international trade, then China will. This is then both a human rights imperative and a strategic national security necessity.

President Obama hasn’t made a strong case at all, and saying that he has won’t make it so. He has just given us all some broad generalities, undocumented promises, and the same kinds of platitudes about “free trade” we have gotten from every President since at least Jimmy Carter.

The President has just asserted that if we don’t make the rules, then China will. He has offered no backup of these assertions to the public which is, incidentally, his normal way of doing things. But the truth is that both China and the US can only negotiate agreements with other nations, and neither can prevent a nation like Australia or Malaysia or Japan from negotiating agreements with both the US and China.

So, the case that either we or China will set the rules alone, or predominantly, is weak. We will all set the rules jointly with other nations, and we are making a big mistake if our policy is one of creating and consolidating a trading bloc that will exclude China and the other BRICS nations.

In any event, if the TPP is about military security, then let’s see the President and yourself justify it on that basis and stop telling the falsehood that it is about free trade. Based on what you’ve just said, the objective of the TPP isn’t “free trade,” driven by economic forces, but trade with other nations managed in such a way that our national security vis-a-vis China is enhanced.

And, by the way, many observers of the politics of fast-track TPP have noticed that Malaysia is being included in the TPP despite its involvement in “human trafficking” – the slave trade. How can the slave trade be about “free trade”?

Clearly, either it can’t, or if it can, then that is a very good reason why we ought not to support “absolute free trade”, which is what you’re advocating. So, it’s obvious to everyone that including Malaysia in the agreement is about the US Navy commanding the Straits of Malacca, one of the choke points for world shipping.

It is very questionable morally whether the US tacitly supporting the slave trade in Malaysia is worth approaching this military goal. But apart from this, including Malaysia in this agreement isn’t about free trade that will enhance the economic well-being of Americans under some far-fetched 19th century economic theory that involves gross over-simplifications of reality. Instead, it is about national security. So we ought to acknowledge that and frankly debate it along with the TPP.

Congressman Beyer looks forward to following his leader and emulating that leader’s false claims

I look forward to standing with our President, and for aggressive job creation and economic growth, in voting for these trade bills, the next step toward expanded trade for America.

“Standing with our President” is an empty shibboleth if our President is wrong in wanting fast-track and in his actions negotiating these terrible corporate control agreements that give away so much of our way of life for unlikely theoretical gains derived from a bankrupt economic ideology. And as far as aggressive job creation and economic growth are concerned, we will not get to either one through the TPP, if economic projections of likely gains from the TPP are anywhere near the mark. These gains are projected to be so low by 2025 that they are attributable to rounding error in projections.

Over this decade here are virtually no additional jobs projected to be created with the TPP, than without the TPP of any significance. Like the Keystone XL pipeline, the TPP is a pipe dream when it comes to job creation. In fact, the claims that we ought to support the TPP due to its job creation benefits make me very angry.

The Great Recession left us with a full-time jobs gap of some 25 – 30 million, and that gap is largely there today in spite of the recent gains in employment, six years after the gap was created. So when someone uses “job creation” as a justification for doing something that has the potential to produce harm to wages, employment, environmental protection, corporate regulation, the climate, sovereignty, democracy, and much more, and can show at most a possible gain of very few jobs, perhaps in the hundreds of thousands over a 10 year period, compared to the many millions needed, then I know I’m being gulled by the person telling me that, and I don’t like that at all.

If Congressman Beyer is serious about job creation then he ought to be supporting Congress quickly defeating it, getting it off the agenda, and then moving to create a Federally-funded local community run and administered Job Guarantee program, at a regionally adjusted for variations in cost-of-living, living wage with full fringe benefits. That will create both full employment and rapid economic growth, and along with an enhanced Medicare for All bill, like HR 676, will go a long way to repairing and enhancing the social safety net that both parties have been trashing for many years now.

Meanwhile, there is no need for these trade deals. Congressman Beyer has to remember that exports are real costs, and imports are real benefits, so that trade deficits are good for us, provided that we don’t lose certain manufacturing capabilities, skills and services we need for our own futures, and provided that we make sure that no Americans who want full-time jobs can’t find them. When other nations tire of sending us real products and services, in return for the electronic bits of information that are our modern money, then they will voluntarily export less, and import more, righting trade balances over time.

International trade can largely take care of itself, except that we need to identify certain manufacturing and skill capabilities we need in our country. And then we need to make sure that we are subsidizing the development of these products and these skills to ensure that our nation is both prosperous happy. That’s called industrial policy. So, no more of this free trade agreement malarkey, Congressman Beyer. And no more advocacy or support for undermining our sovereignty, constitutional order, or democracy. Enough!!!!

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  1. Vatch

    Thanks for this article. Here’s Beyer’s contact information, some of which I posted a couple of days ago, but it’s worth showing again, along with additional details:

    Washington, DC Office
    431 Cannon House Office Building
    Washington, DC 20515
    Phone: (202) 225-4376
    Fax: (202) 225-0017

    District Office
    5285 Shawnee Road
    Suite 250
    Alexandria, VA 22312
    Phone: (703) 658-5403
    Fax: (703) 658-5408

  2. allan

    One more:

    Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) on Monday became the 19th House Democrat to say she would back fast-track trade authority for President Obama, according to The Hill’s Whip list.

    1. Vatch

      Well then, her constituents need to give her a dose of reality:

      318 Cannon House Office Building
      Washington, DC 20515
      phone: (202) 225-6311
      fax: (202) 226-1606
      hours: M-F 9-5:30pm

      Canyon Park Business Center, 22121 17th Ave SE, Bldg E
      Suite 220
      Bothell, WA 98021
      phone: (425) 485-0085
      fax: (425) 485-0083
      hours: M-F 8:30am-5pm

      204 W. Montgomery Street
      Mount Vernon, WA 98273
      phone: (360) 416-7879
      fax: (425) 485-0083

  3. purple

    All these guys are either bought off or implicitly blackmailed through their corruption or criminality. Or both.

    Why do you think the quixotic Hastert indictment came out right before this crucial vote ? It was just a friendly reminder to some wavering House members.

  4. Dwight

    Beyer says that concerns about Investor-State Dispute Settlement are “confusion about mediation between investors and states.” ISDS is binding arbitration, not non-binding mediation. I doubt that this misrepresentation is the result of confusion.

  5. sd

    Is Don Beyer Pelosi’s Fast Track yes vote?

    Friendly reminder: congress members trade votes (free trade, ha ha ha). Pelosi will trade her Fast Track yes vote for someone else’s no vote so that it looks like she is voting on behalf of her constituents. The congress member still has to look like they actually mean it and may publish statements to that effect. Vote trades typically happen between ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ members. Specifically in Pelosis case, she is unsafe and is looking for a safe seat to vote yes.

    So what you see is not always what is actually going on.

    1. two beers

      How is Pelosi’s seat “unsafe”?

      Despite its reputation as a progressive city, SF is very pro-business, and the supposedly progressive voters are largely uninformed and cognitively-captured (Obama is still beloved here- that’s all you need to know). After voting for Obama and gay rights, the pwogs pat themselves on the back for how pwogwessive they are, and they go back to their iPhones and dance music.

      The Dem tribal sheep always reelect her overwhelmingly. She’s never had a credible challenger, and in this city where Democratic tribal hegemony rules, she never will.

      If Pelosi votes no, it probably means she’s worried about her reputation and legacy. She’ll never face electoral consequences for voting for this debacle, because the tribal Dems here love her because she is just so danged progressive.

      1. different clue

        Are the members of Pelosi’s San Friscopoid voterbase merely tribal and cognitively captured? Or is it that they are upper-class-aspirational latte’ liberals and silicon yuppies who identify with Pelosi’s social class and support its interests in the belief that they share those interests?

        They aren’t eating enough Pacific tuna. They need to eat way more of it. Its good for their health.

  6. Beans

    I had the same experience when writing about my opposition to fast track to my representative (Pete Sessions) – form letter returned to my talking up his support. While I wasn’t expecting one lone constituent to change his mind, the fact that his office didn’t even read my email, just saw I clicked “TRADE” on the issue I was referencing lit me up. My 2nd response was quite a bit tackier than what Joe Firestone recommends, though.

    1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

      Well good on you for letting him have it.

      Silence is the worst thing.

  7. MrColdWaterOfRealityMan

    This is plainly a government coup – the aim of which is to replace nation states with transnational corporate superstates, subservient to no authority but themselves.

    1. jgordon

      There is no way that a “trade deal” is not a treaty. You can twist and euphemize the English language a lot of different ways, but in the end you can not change what the definition of “is” is.

      Paraphrasing Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, the United States government no longer exists in Washington, but rather some other entity has displaced it. The sneering disregard for the plain language of the Constitution that the current entity exhibits would seem to confirm that view.

  8. Jeremy Grimm

    This post certainly covers all the bases. But I don’t need any more convincing than the secrecy and the complexity of the “trade” agreements. The destruction of national, state and local sovereignty arguments based on what is known are sufficiently compelling to trump all projected benefits proponents argue as Congressman Beyer argues in his letter. I strongly oppose a loss of sovereignty even if the projected benefits blossomed and produced even more jobs and growth and whatever else they are supposed to produce than the very rosy projections of Congressman Beyer. The long term crapification of products and services will only hasten my retreat, and I believe that of many others who like me are already fed up with the products and services on offer.

    I am skeptical the proponents of these “trade” agreements, those large corporations pushing so hard to jam them down our throats, really fully understand their long term impacts and implications. I am skeptical in spite of the large staffs of very talented lawyers and analysts helping each corporate power count the ways the new agreements will benefit them. I believe the corporations are so focused on usurping the power of nations and their peoples they have become blind to the weapons these agreements place in the hands of their enemies — the other corporations and cartels pushing for these agreements.

    Although “war” analogies are more than a little trite, I will make yet another, noting the passing of these “trade” agreements could ultimately lead to an international corporate warfare (corporations and cartels against corporations and cartels) that will make “Game of Thrones” seem tame by comparison. I can only suppose our corporate CEOs and Presidents are unconcerned given their already substantial wealth and the poison pills and golden parachutes they plan for themselves — at the cost of their shareholders, employees of their corporation, their customers, and the people of their country — if indeed these sociopaths retain a concept a country or people of a country.

    This situation recalls an old saying (Thai?) “When elephants fight, ants die.” I’d rather not!

    1. Quantum Future

      Jeremy – The saying is ‘when elephants dance ants get trampled.’

      Your intuition of where this may lead (WW3) is very certainly within the realm of possibility.

      I have had some nice compliments over the years, been compared to Buckminster Fuller and John Nash.

      Frankly, we are not ready for a global Republic and corporate monarchy ensures a further evolutionary game of King of the Hill.

      Expect this ant to be out of the way as the elephants dance. It seems like one of our biggest and finals waves to overcome before classic death is defeated. But I expect the death toll over 2 billion in war before we reach a last stage of scientific advancement and classic end of death. Operation Eternity has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? To what gain is there to own the world but die shitting your pants at 90?

  9. oguk

    Mr Firestone is far more articulate and thorough than I, but I thought I’d share my email to my rep. (Not the first communication I’ve had on this subject.) I know physical mail counts for more, but time being what it is, this is the best I could do this time around.

    I am a little new to this, but it’s becoming fun!

    Message Subject: Please vote AGAINST trade promotion authority and the TPP!

    Message Text:
    Dear Mr. Kennedy, I know you have questioned the way the trade deal known as the TPP, and fast-track authority, is being conducted. I hope you will stand your ground and OPPOSE fast-track authority, should it come for a vote this week.

    * TPP will empower corporations to extract settlements through a secret trade court to override national sovereignty through Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). This is an egregious power-grab on behalf of corporate interests.

    * By empowering global industrial corporations, TPP will clearly undermine national ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment, which is one of, if not the most, burning issue before us in the twenty-first century.

    * President Obama’s secrecy surrounding the TPP and his pressure for fast track authority leaves me very concerned that he will not protect the interests of the American people.

    I will be watching your vote carefully!
    Thank you, …

  10. Larry

    Kennedy III in Massachusetts expressed apprehensiveness against the TPA and TPP in May, but has been silent on it since. I cannot find any press statements on it. The last news article on the topic mentions that he has seen anti-NAFTA signs in his district, and it has caused him to not see eye-to-eye with Obama on this. That said, on a local news broadcast, he was angling for more training. I suspect he’ll support it if workers get a crumb that he can throw out to his constituency.

    I called both of his offices to let him know that I don’t support the TPP and hope that he remains apprehensive and unsupportive. Neither of the staffers on the phone could tell me where Rep. Kennedy stands on the issue, which is a bad sign to me.

    So fellow Bay Staters, contact your reps and let them know where you stand.

  11. chicagogal

    This all reminds me of the lead up to the Iraq war and seeing my then Rep., Henry Hyde (R-IL), on the local news saying that of the constituents he had heard from, more than 2/3 wanted him to vote no, but that he was going to support President Bush by voting yes. The congressional representatives who actually care about and support their constituents is negligible.

    As I posted late to something the other day:


    1. the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.

    2. the action of betraying someone or something.

    Seriously, why is no one talking about the fact that what our “elected” congress and President is doing is nothing short of treason?

    1. jrs

      At least with TARP, we had reports (misreports?) of how many calls were coming in against it, the overwhelming number we were always told, and yet it passed anyway. But then they don’t really have to even tell us this information at all do they? If calls were coming in 9 to 1 against TPA would we know?

      Unfortunately most people probably still don’t know about the treaties and so aren’t calling at all.

    2. hunkerdown

      That’s what the system was designed for, and Madison in Federalist #10, expecting ever greater burdens to be imposed on the underclass, proposed a system whereby to prevent them from shirking those oppressive impositions.

      The Great Chain of Being is inherently authoritarian. Plato was a right-wing nut job and Western society is based on his arrogant puffery. How does one level a society that believes it needs to be ruled?

    3. Robert

      Maybe there’s something to this Jade Helm 15 and the militarization of our police forces.

    1. jrs

      Medicare cuts: so now a non-senior person that loses their job to trade agreements, will not only now have no income and to have to try to find another income, but will have to try to pay their older parents medical expenses as well as Medicare is being cut! Some blessing.

      Take your retraining and trade adjustment assistance and stuff it where the sun don’t shine! And that’s what I tell my congressperson. Okay, okay, I’m more polite. But medical expenses can be much more expensive than education or whatever the adjustment assistance provides. What a disaster.

  12. Robb

    Just emailed my Congresswoman Barbara Lee. I know she has come out against fast track and hoping this will strengthen her resolve.

    Email and write, we need to stop this train wreck.

  13. ambrit

    My Representative is a semi Tea Party Republican, but I stopped by his local office this morning and registered my desire for him to oppose fast track. The woman staffing the office mumbled, “Another one against fast track” as she wrote my particulars down. (I mentioned that I vote regularly. She looked up at me at that statement. Is this a dying institution in our day and age?) Of more interest was that a Google, (now a verb as well as a noun,) of his name gives you the wrong address for his local office. (There are three offices in this District.) While searching through the courthouse district of Hattiesburg for his office, I was struck by the almost obsessive militarization of the public buildings. One would be hard pressed to find a terrorist so depraved and lacking in strategic insight as to attack the one horse town infrastructure that is our Mississippi “heartland.” All of the uniformed guards I encountered were unmistakably bored. Meet the new improved neo-liberal jobs program!

  14. anonymous123

    I hope everyone is calling and emailing their congresscritters today–this is an important issue to keep being vocal about!

  15. ian

    Did my part and emailed representatives. As I live in South Orange County (about as red as it gets) my opinion will likely fall on deaf ears. But, fingers crossed …..

      1. jrs

        If there were enough anti TPP tea party Rs do make a difference, R leadership would probably be vote trading with them just like the Ds. There probably aren’t.

  16. anonymous123

    An interesting twist in the TPP negotiations: “U.S. Shifts Stance on Drug Pricing in Pacific Trade Pact Talks, Document Reveals”

    “Facing resistance from its Pacific trading partners, the Obama administration is no longer demanding protection for pharmaceutical prices under the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to a newly leaked “transparency” annex of the proposed trade accord.”

  17. jonboinAR

    I called Congressman Bruce Westerman, Arkansas 4th District, (Bill Clinton’s home region) for the second time regarding the FTA. I kept it short and sweet.
    – If they pass Fast Track Authority they are shirking their duty as our elected representatives to examine and weigh and influence the contents of treaties wjth foreign governments because (I picked this up from another NC poster), call it what you will, this amounts to a treaty.
    – I resent the fact that representatives of private corporations have been allowed to study and influence the contents of the TPP while, not only I, a citizen cannot do the same, but my elected representatives can only see portions of the proposed uh…, treaty under strict supervision. No one, including the POTUS, has any business restricting my represtatives in this manner and they need to not put up with it.
    – The secrecy of this thing, and the manner in which the input ofselected private individuals has been solicited makes it unlikely to be to my benefit to pass. The last thing I’m in favor of is it bein “fast-tracked”. Bring it out in the open if it’s so great for the average American citizen! If this secrecy is necessary to it’s passage, I’ll have to try to live without it.

    I forgot this time to register my objection to the more or less private tribunals that will be standing judges over our laws, but the call was mainly about the FTA itself more than the TPP, and I was trying to keep it short. I’m out of time now, but will try to email him this evening.

    1. jonboinAR

      I mean, of course, I called his office. I tried to edit the comment, but it seemed to fail.

  18. SJB

    I called Beyer, my rep. told him I have a Ph.D in econ, and work as an economist (both true). Told him markets don’t function properly without full information, which we don’t have with the secrecy. Let his staff know I was very upset about TPA and fast track and won’t support him in the future if he votes for it.

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