With the White House and some of the biggest multinational corporations lobbying Congress to “fast track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal between the United States and 11 other countries, National Nurses United today converged on the nation’s capital to explain that what’s good for investors’ balance sheets is not necessarily good for patients. “Nurses are patient advocates—and by extension advocates of our patients’ families and our communities—and we are here to sound a Code Blue on fast track,” said RN Deborah Burger, a member of the NNU’s Council of Presidents. “While there are many good reasons to reject fast track, the nation’s registered nurses are particularly concerned about these trade agreements’ threats to public health and safety.”
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks are stalling while the White House assures its trading partners that this secret trade agreement won’t be amended when it comes back to Congress for ratification after the President signs the deal. That’s why the Executive is scrambling to get its allies in Congress to pass Fast Track. If they succeed, the U.S. Trade Representative can block remaining opportunities for the examination of the TPP’s provisions by lawmakers who could ensure that this secret deal does not contain expansive copyright rules that would lock the U.S. into broken copyright rules that are already in bad need of reform. The Fast Track bill is likely going to be introduced as early as next week—so it’s time to speak out now. Congress needs to hear from their constituents that we expect them to hold the White House accountable for the TPP’s restrictive digital policies.
Eight senators on Thursday let the country know there is going to be a fight over fast-track trade authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took to the Senate floor to speak about fast track, TPP and fair trade. There was apparently not a single report of this in the nation’s news media, continuing the blackout of news on fast track and TPP. A fight is coming because past trade deals have cost jobs and wages, devastated entire regions, and accelerated corporate power and income/wealth inequality – which it is becoming clear was the intent. Whitehouse, for example, said parts of TPP are “a question of pure raw economic power by massive corporate interests being used to make governments knuckle under.” Sanders said, “Enough is enough. This country now is in a major race to the bottom.”
This week, we are occupying Sen. Ron Wyden’s office in Washington, DC to remind him that the people want him to oppose Fast Track and the TPP. Senator Wyden is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee which is where fast track legislation would be introduced. The chair, Sen. Orrin Hatch, is pushing Wyden to join him in introducing a fast track bill. The pressure is working! Last week, people all across OR told Sen. Wyden through rallies, teach-ins and a bus tour that they oppose fast track and the TPP. A new poll found that 62% of OR voters are opposed to the TPP and 73% oppose fast track. We’ve been in Wyden’s office for three days (since he returned to Washington).
Today we started a “Drop In Hang Out” in Senator Wyden’s office to let him know people are watching him very closely on the issue of Fast Track trade authority. People will be participating in a rolling sit-in for most of the week. Sen. Wyden is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. He has been in discussions with Senator Orin Hatch about co-sponsoring Fast Track legislation. Wyden’s constituents have been letting them know they oppose Fast Track and a poll showed that 73% oppose such legislation. In the article below it seems Sen. Wyden seems to be listening. He is publicly saying that Sen. Hatch is moving to quickly toward Fast Track legislation. What he should be saying is that Sen. Hatch is moving in the wrong direction. The truth is that Fast Track cannot work with the three treaties currently being negotiated because it is impossible to achieve the objectives that Sen. Wyden says is necessary in any Fast Track legislation: (1) transparency for congress and the public, (2) participation in the process by Congress. These trade agreements have been negotiated for years and are nearing completion so how can Congress participate? Transparency would be coming too late for the public to have any input. As a result — Fast Track must not be permitted for any of these agreements. Congress and the people need time to rethink the goals of trade and how trade should be negotiated. Transparency and participation are two keys, but we also must put people and planet before profits.
Oregon’s U.S. Senator Ron Wyden could face challenges in his new 2016 reelection fight if he votes with Senate Republicans in favor of the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the so-called “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) many in Washington believe is needed for passing it. According to the new poll conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) on behalf of Democracy for America, half (50%) of all Oregon voters would be less likely to vote for Senator Wyden in his 2016 reelection if he voted for fast track authority and the TPP. Senator Wyden is widely believed to be one of the Senate Democrats most likely to work with Republicans and the White House to secure passage of TPA and the TPP.
Environmental, labor, and community groups are organizing rallies, public forums, and creative direct actions this week urging their congressional representatives to say “no” to a renewed bid to rush through the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership “trade” deal by passing “fast track” legislation. “Senate Finance Committe Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is saying he wants to reintroduce Fast Track legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this month — right after Members of Congress return from the Presidents Day recess,”explains Citizens Trade Campaign, referring to legislation that would allow the Obama administration to avoid transparency and full congressional review of the deal. “Now’s the time to tell Congress: no Fast Track for the TPP!”
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, wants to view an unredacted copy of the proposed text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(TTIP). He wants to bring his chief of staff, who has a top security clearance, and he wants to be able to take notes privately. He also wants to review documents that show the position of each country participating in the agreements, as well how the U.S. position has changed over the course of the negotiations. In a letter this week, Doggett accused Michael Froman, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), of avoiding his requests since January. “USTR has provided no legal justification for denying such Member and staff review,” wrote Doggett. The text of TPP is treated as a state secret — to a degree. Access to TPP texts is limited to members of Congress and staffers on the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee who have an official security clearance. Hundreds of corporate lobbyists and executives are also given access . . .
The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) poses massive threats to users in a dizzying number of ways. It will force other TPP signatories to accept the United States’ excessive copyright terms of a minimum of life of the author plus 70 years, while locking the US to the same lengths so it will be harder to shorten them in the future. It contains DRM anti-circumvention provisions that will make it a crime to tinker with, hack, re-sell, preserve, and otherwise control any number of digital files and devices that you own. The TPP will encourage ISPs to monitor and police their users, likely leading to more censorship measures such as the blockage and filtering of content online in the name of copyright enforcement.
We need to organize quickly. President Obama and the new Congress are moving to pass Fast Track legislation which will permit the President to sign secret trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before Congress sees them and restrict Congress from determining what impacts the TPP will have on our health, economy, communities and the planet. We know what previous trade agreements like NAFTA have done to outsource jobs and lower wages, block efforts to protect public health and increase our deficit. The TPP is a whole new breed. We call it “NAFTA on steroids.” The reason the TPP has been negotiated in secret and is being pushed through Congress in this unconstitutional and undemocratic way is because it contains provisions that will give corporations even more power to determine our laws even down to the local level and remove our power to fight back. We aren’t going to let that happen. We are working with our allies across the continent to stop Fast Track and the TPP.
On Thursday Council Member Helen Rosenthal introduced a new resolution that opposes the President’s “fast-track” authority over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and declares New York City a “TPP-Free Zone.” The TPP, a free trade agreement being secretly negotiated between the United States federal government and eleven other Pacific Rim countries, will “eliminate tariffs and other barriers to goods and services trade and investment” among these countries. However leaked texts and news reports show that the TPP would significantly alter the balance of international power, reduce national, state and city sovereignty, and negatively impact domestic businesses, environmental and labor protections, food sanitation standards, and free access to the internet and low-cost medications.
Don’t let anyone tell you that fighting for net neutrality isn’t a contact sport. Two Internet freedom activists were reportedly tackled to the ground Tuesday as they interrupted a press conference held by Ajit Pai, one of the five voting commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission. Pai is one of two commissioners who opposes FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to save net neutrality by reclassifying the Internet underTitle II of the Communications Act. The activists came from Popular Resistance, a group that has no qualms about getting in the government’s face.