Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Corporate Trade Agenda That Is Roiling The Hawaii Senate Race


The latest NAFTA-like, jobs-destroying "free trade" treaty, the Transpacific Partnership, could become an issue in the Hawai'i Senate race, where notoriously corrupt New Dem corporate shill, Colleen Hanabusa, is trolling for Big Business cash by backing the TPP and progressive champion and incumbent, Brian Schatz, has grave concerns which he is insisting be seriously addressed.

Hanabusa and the other money-grubbing New Dems have been working with Republicans to push through fast tracking, although pressure from unions and environmental groups have started frightening them. Hanabusa is trying to feign concern for the issues Schatz and other progressives have been bringing up. Here's a copy of the letter he sent Harry Reid last week:
Dear Majority Leader Reid:

I write to you today about the upcoming trade agenda. More specifically, I am writing to express deep concern about the prospect of renewing the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)-- better known as Fast Track-– that lapsed in 2007. As the TPA that was enacted over a decade ago is inadequate for addressing the complex trade agreements of the 21st century, it is clear that renewal of TPA without substantial reforms would be unacceptable. Instead, TPA must be replaced with a new trade agreement negotiation and approval process appropriate to 21st-century trade agreements and consistent with the constitutional role of Congress in trade.

As you know, the United States is currently negotiating two significant trade agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Together, these two agreements would encompass more than 60 percent of the global economy and more than half of U.S. trade. Prior to the consideration of these agreements, there are a number of trade policy initiatives that will require Congressional attention, including consideration of TPA and reauthorizing the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. As these initiatives come up for consideration, potentially in a package, I believe it is imperative that we improve upon Congressional consultation, while also including provisions to maximize economic and job growth at home.

It has been more than ten years since Congress considered legislation granting Trade Promotion Authority. In that time, the global economy has changed, and with it our trade policy. The trade agreements currently being negotiated are not merely contracts to establish tariff levels between two trading partners. Instead, they are complex economic agreements between large groups of nations encompassing a wide variety of issues ranging from state-owned enterprises to intellectual property. They have profound effects on our nation’s economy and laws and the communities that we represent. As such, the terms of Congressional involvement require a number of reforms. Specifically, the last TPA framework created a Congressional Oversight Group (COG) that has proven ineffective at meaningfully increasing member involvement or understanding of our trade negotiations. We must do better. Any bill reestablishing an expedited legislative process for approving trade agreements must improve upon this consultation body, broaden the scope of members to include those beyond the committees of jurisdiction, improve access to negotiating information for Congress and the public, and institute strong mechanisms to certify that our negotiating objectives are achieved.

I am also concerned about any larger trade package of which legislation spelling out a new trade agreement approval process would be a part. While TAA can be an essential component of our trade policy, we need a broader effort to ensure American workers are competing on a fair and even playing field. A large trade package should also include provisions to promote our nation’s competitiveness. For instance, for far too long our trade policies have hurt our domestic manufacturing sector instead of helping it. We must not allow our global competitors to continue challenging American leadership in manufacturing and innovation. I believe any package should include provisions to address currency manipulation, stronger mechanisms to address unfair labor practices, the ability of communities to preserve their values, strong trade enforcement policies, and innovative solutions to finance improvements to our crumbling infrastructure.

I join my colleagues, Senators Al Franken (MN), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Christopher Murphy (CT), Bernie Sanders (VT), Tom Harkin (IA), Carl Levin (MI), Jeff Merkely (OR), Jack Reed (RI), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Edward Markey (MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) in expressing these concerns. I look forward to working with you to achieve these goals. I understand that the Senate Finance Committee has taken up legislation on the trade agreement approval process, and as a non-Committee member, I believe that we must use this moment to advance a more comprehensive approach to trade policy that prepares workers and businesses to take advantage of new opportunities and promote domestic production and jobs. We must not return to an outdated and inadequate legislative process for shaping and approving trade agreements. Thank you.
Most Democrats in the Senate have have endorsed him and/or contributed to Schatz's campaign, including Tammy Baldwin, Mark Begich, Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal, Barbara Boxer, Sherrod Brown, Maria Cantwell, Bob Casey, Coons, Joe Donnelly, Richard Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Tom Harkin, Martin Heinrich, Heidi Heitkamp, Tim Kane, Amy Klobuchar, Mary Landrieu, Joe Manchin, Bob Menendez, Jeff Merkley, Chris Murphy, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Harry Reid, Jay Rockefeller, Chuck Schumer, Jeanne Shaheen, Debbie Stabenow, John Tester, Mark Warner, Elizabeth Warren, Sheldon Whitehouse, Ron Wyden, and Bernie Sanders. It looks like Schatz's letter worked. Earlier today, after much wavering:

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At 1:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typos alert (not comprehensive):

1) Hanabusa, is tRolling for Big Business cash ...

2) BarB(v)arva Boxer

John Puma


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