Thursday, June 11, 2015

Senator Sherrod Brown And Congressman Alan Grayson On "So-Called" Free Trade


Brown has been fighting against the job-killing corporate trade agenda since long before he was ever elected to the Senate. He was the primary champion of the battle against these unfair trade bills in the House-- just as Grayson is today. Last week, Brown did an OpEd for the Jackson County Times-Journal about the dangers of fast-tracking the TPP.
Folks in Washington like to make big promises when it comes to our trade deals. But for too long, we’ve seen nothing but bad results.

We’ve seen what so-called free trade agreements have done to our workers and our communities over the past two decades. We’ve seen the factories close and the stores get boarded up. That’s why I voted against giving the president authority to rush through a huge new trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And it’s why I’ll continue to fight for a level playing field for American workers and American businesses.

It’s true that trade deals have created jobs, and that the TPP could as well. But this ignores the millions more jobs that have been lost because of unfair trade deals.

I like to look at things in baseball terms. Lauding gains from exports while ignoring a flood of imports – and skyrocketing trade deficits-- is like reporting half of the score of a baseball game. The Cleveland Indians scoring three runs doesn’t help the team much if the Yankees scored six runs.

We know that past trade deals have replaced manufacturing jobs-- with good pay and good benefits-- with low-wage service sector jobs. We can’t let that happen again.

And we also know that we make deals with countries that don’t play by the same rules we do-- they have lax labor and environmental standards, and what international rules they do have to follow too often get ignored.

That’s why we can’t have trade promotion without trade enforcement.

Instead of rushing a bill through last month, the Senate should have taken the time to get this right and to include my important amendments that protect Ohio workers and manufacturers. I fought for provisions that would guarantee a level playing field for our workers and companies by cracking down on countries who manipulate their currencies, and that would give American businesses new tools to fight back against illegal foreign imports.

I also fought to make sure China isn’t able to sneak into this trade pact at a later date, without any oversight or Congressional approval.

I’m going to continue fighting to get these important protections to the president’s desk. This massive agreement could affect forty percent of the global economy-- it is too important to rush it through.

We know that trade done right can create prosperity. I want trade that lifts up Ohio’s middle class families and that creates good-paying jobs-- not trade that leads to more shuttered plants and shattered communities. That can only happen when the rules aren’t rigged and we have a level playing field.

Unfortunately, with the TPP we know which kind of trade we’re getting-- the kind the results in corporate handouts and worker sellouts.
No wonder Brown's approval rating is through the roof among Ohio voters, while the state's other senator, "Free" Trade architect Rob Portman, is sinking into nothing! Today Grayson sent his supporters an e-mail asking them to call some of his Democratic colleagues he fears may be leaning towards voting for Fast Track:

"Our trade debt," he wrote, "stands at eleven trillion dollars ($11,000,000,000,000.00). That's more than $35,000 for every human being in America-- including you. 'Fast Track' would pave the way for new trade bills that would increase that. How are we ever going to pay that money back?... Fast Track unconstitutionally restricts Congress from holding hearings, conducting investigations, debating a bill and offering amendments-- basically, its job. In fact, it could restrict each House Member to only 83 seconds of debate.

Grayson was blocked by Republicans who control the Rules Committee from submitting a series of amendments to the 3 trade acts the Senate already passed and that the House is taking up now. "The rubber-stamping of these acts," wrote Grayson, "is an abrogation of duty by the House of Representatives. I introduced 30 amendments that would protect our economy, our workers, the environment, and the rights of workers in our trading nation; along with establishing criteria that guarantees any trade deal we enter into would improve our economy. The Rules Committee did not consider any one of them before calling for a vote on these acts. This is another example, like the 'Fast Track' trade authority we will vote on Friday, of trade deals being created in secrecy with no input from those of us where were elected to represent the people of our districts. These deals have repeatedly hurt the US economy, especially workers, and cost us millions of jobs. My amendments required that all deals entered into by the US Trade Representative":
         Lower the US trade deficit
         Keep the trade deficit under $100 billion
         Be withdrawn from if the trade deficit rises above $100 billion
         Decrease unemployment
         Have partners with a minimum wage as high as the US
         Have partners with environmental standards equal to the US
         Have partners with safety standards equal to the US
         Have partners with consumer protection standards equal to the US
         Have partners with established pension programs
         Ensure that US citizens can appeal from foreign “trade courts” to US Supreme Court as the last resort
         Automatically expire in no more than 5 years
         Cannot include any provision prohibiting the US Congress from passing a law requiring products bought by US government to be made in US
         Have partners with intellectual property protection as strong as the US
         Have no partners who collect private electronic data on citizens in violation of its own constitution
         Must clearly explain the projected trade benefits; if these benefits are not met within three years then the deal is withdrawn
         Have partners with a democratic form of government
         Have partners with no active and pervasive internet censorship
         Have partners with freedom of press the same as the US
         Have partners who prohibit forced labor
         Have partners who prohibit child labor
         Have partners with freedom of religion
         Have partners with freedom of speech
         Have partners with freedom of assembly
         Have partners whose laws offer protection against unreasonable searches and seizures
         Have partners who allow no seizing of private property without just compensation
         Have partners who prohibit cruel and unusual punishment
         Have partners whose laws require equal pay for equal work
         Have partners who allow the right to form trade unions
         Have partners who require free compulsory education
         Include the text of the act guaranteeing the supremacy of US law.

No votes allowed. Whose side are these guys on? Help draft Grayson for the Senate here.

UPDATE: First House TPP Fast Track Vote

Around 5 p.m. this evening, the House voted on the Rules Committee proposal to go forward with the "debate" on Fast Track, which includes the Republican plan to cut Medicare to use the money to help grease the way for TPP. It passed 217-212, 8 Democrats, disgracefully, joining 209 Republicans (so all but 8) to cut Medicare and displace hundreds of thousands of Americans from their jobs. The 8 Democrats:
Earl Blumenauer (OR)
Gerry Connolly (New Dem-VA)
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
John Delaney (New Dem-MD)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Rick Larsen (New Dem-WA)
House Republicans have loaded up the combined trade package with a hodgepodge of right wing wishes and traps-- Medicare cuts, language blocking any help for immigrants in trade deals, language blocking any action on climate in trade deals... No Democrat should even consider voting for this monstrosity. It's more than clear that the Obama-Boehner trade package is now a broad corporate attack on core Democratic values and constituencies. And Democrats who vote for it will not just be vulnerable in primaries on trade and jobs and wages, but on climate, immigration rights, food safety and most of all, on Medicare.

  One of the Republicans happily voting to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare was Dave Reichert from the suburbs east of Seattle. He always tries to pass himself off as a moderate while voting for the extremist GOP agenda. His progressive opponent, Jason Ritchie, has been working hard to organize against unfair trade legislation. Earlier today, before the vote, Jason told his supporters that "Reichert owes the people of the 8th Congressional district and Washington State an explanation after recently proposing to cut $700 million from Medicare to pay for jobs lost by his failed trade policy. In a trade deal that was negotiated in secret by corporations, and where corporations stand to benefit most, why is it that job losses created by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would be paid for by raiding Medicare? Corporations have no right using Medicare funds to hedge their bets and the people of Washington State deserve better than the usual "no response" from Rep. Reichert. Medicare is an earned benefit and is vital to millions of Americans. It should not be used as the personal 'piggybank' for Reichert and the Republican Party. Transnational corporations negotiated the Trans Pacific Partnership in secret-- the same corporations that consider the middle class simply another commodity to be traded. I am pro-trade and pro-transparency and accountability. Demanding transparency and accountability doesn’t make one opposed to trade. It makes one an active participant in our democracy. I oppose the TPP and stand with the middle class, environmental groups, and trade unions over corporations. Let’s work for a trade deal that grows our American middle class, protects our currency, our human rights and environmental standards, and puts family needs above corporate profits."

Early this morning, DFA's Jim Dean said, "Ahead of today's votes we wanted to be very clear to Democratic members of Congress: If you vote for either Medicare-cutting Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation or Fast Track Authority for the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership, we will not lift a finger or raise a penny to protect you when you're attacked in 2016, we will encourage our progressive allies to join us in leaving you to rot, and we will actively search for opportunities to primary you with a real Democrat."

If you'd like to help replace Reichert with Jason Ritchie, please consider making a contribution to his grassroots campaign here.

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At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The roll call:

There were 34 GOP "no" votes
Five not voting

John Puma


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