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Commentary :: Globalization
Reid Derails Fast Track
01 Feb 2014
trade
Reid Derails Fast Track

by Stephen Lendman

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV) opposes fast track legislation. He broke with Obama on trade policy.

"I'm against fast track," he said. "I think everyone would be well-advised not to push this right now."

Senator John Cornyn (R. TX) said:

"You can kiss any new trade deals goodbye. I think the majority leader's focus is on the November elections, and he doesn't want to expose his vulnerable members to controversial votes."

AFL-CIO trade policy specialist Celeste Drake called Reid's comments "a great opportunity to get off the fast track to bad trade deals and open the policy window to a better deal for workers."

Communications Workers of America head Larry Cohen added:

"For those of us who want to have a progressive trade agenda, it means that we're encouraged."

Obama wants Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) legislation fast-tracked through Congress. He wants it passed with no debate.

He wants a trade deal from hell rubber-stamped. He wants sole TPP authority. More on this below.

TPP is NAFTA on steroids. It's stealth corporate coup d'etat legislation. It's secretive. It's supranational. It overrides domestic laws. It rewrites global trade rules.

It eliminates fundamental freedoms. It prioritizes investor rights. Popular ones don't matter.

Nor domestic laws. Nor national sovereignty. Nor health and safety. Nor environmental sanity. Nor nations fit to live in.

At issue is agreeing on unrestricted trade in goods, services, rules of origin, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers, government procurement and competition policies, and intellectual property (IP).

Enacting TPP assures millions more lost US jobs. It more than ever frees banksters from oversight.

It prioritizes profits over human welfare. It assures flooding America with unsafe food and other products. It makes "buy American" an illegal "restraint on trade."

Hyped benefits are fake. Reality is polar opposite what corporate crooks claim. What Obama claims. He's beholden to monied interests. He's mindless of what matters most to ordinary people.

On January 28, Public Citizen, Global Exchange, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and six other public interest organizations wrote Congress.

So did hundreds of labor, environmental and community groups. Over 170 Republicans and Democrats expressed fast track opposition.

They want TPP,  the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) (aka the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement - TAFTA), and other trade legislation publicly debated.

They denounced "trade objectives" encouraging a copyright maximalist agenda. They exclude fair use rights.

They want rule of law principles upheld. They want fundamental freedoms protected.

Public fast track opposition is strong. Congress was flooded with phone calls and emails.

January 31 was Intercontinental Day of Action against TPP and corporate globalization. "No more NAFTAs," opponents say. "20 years is enough."

Oppose "free" trade. Support fair trade. Organize. Protest. On January 31, dozens of anti-TPP rallies took place in America, Canada and Mexico.

Polls show Americans overwhelmingly oppose fast-tracking TPP and other trade deals.

Enacting the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act (BCTPA) gives Obama exclusive trade policy authority. Congressional oversight is excluded.

Bill sponsors lied claiming BCTPA "provides greater transparency and gives Congress greater oversight of the Administration's trade negotiations."

It's polar opposite. It's secretive. It shuts out Congress. It overrides US laws. It's draconian.  

Stop Fast Track.com is a public initiative. It urges everyone get involved. It says fast track legislation "threatens everything you care about: democracy, jobs, the environment, and the Internet."

Public Citizen's Lori Wallach heads its Global Trade Watch division. It monitors destructive trade deals like TPP.

On January 28, she said virtually "no House Democratic support for Fast Track" exists. "Public opposition (has) congressional phones ring(ing) off the hook."

"Opposition has been growing to the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership deal. Implementing this NAFTA-on-steroids deal" assures greater than ever income inequality.

"It would be like drilling a hole in a boat just as you are trying to seal the cracks that are letting the water in."

On March 15, 2012, the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement took effect. Obama promised more jobs. Increased US exports would follow, he said.

In its first year, they dropped 10%. Imports soared. America's trade deficit increased. About 40,000 US jobs were lost.

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich opposes fast track. He's against TPP.

He posted 'STOP THE TPP" on his Facebook page. "Raise a ruckus. TPP is NAFTA on steroids."

Unfair trade deals exacerbate income inequality. It's notable since NAFTA's enactment.

Nearly five million US manufacturing jobs disappeared. Bilateral deals lost many more. America is increasingly de-industrialized. It's fast-tracking toward third world status.

Paul Craig Roberts explained, saying:

"..US manufacturing centers became shells of their former selves.." Detroit symbolizes America's decline. It lost a fourth of its population.

Once mighty Motown resembles a ghost town. It's dying. It's bankrupt. Over half its working age residents have no jobs. Most others have rotten ones. They don't pay enough to live on.

"Gary Indiana lost 22% of its population." St. Louis lost 20%. Flint Michigan lost 18%. Cleveland lost 17%.

Industrialized countries alone enjoy developed economy status. Offshoring manufacturing reverses the development process, says Roberts.

Doing so shows a nation in decline. High-paying/good benefits/full-time jobs are disappearing in plain sight. Rotten ones replaced them.

America is increasingly a nation of low-paid/unskilled clerks, food preparers, waitresses, bartenders, dishwashers, maids, cashiers, cab drivers, hosts and hostesses, amusement park attendants, movie theater ushers and ticket takers, farm workers, home care providers, and non-professional medical ones.

"The US now has the work force of a third world country," says Roberts. It resembles India "three decades ago."

Economic development depends on "capital, technology, business knowledge, and trained" skilled workers.

"US capital and technology are being located abroad..." Skilled US workers are disappearing. De-industrialization is the new normal.

America is a shell of its former self. It bears repeating. It's heading toward world status. It's fast-tracking toward getting there.

A Final Comment

Fast-tracking should be outlawed. It should be prohibited. It's extreme. It has no place in free societies.

It gives presidents diktat authority over trade policy. Doing so adversely affects the lives of millions.

Past fast-tracked trade deals compromised, health, public safety, and environmental sanity. They destroyed millions of jobs.

They let banksters circumvent financial regulation. They let Big Pharma charge outrageous prices.

Constitutional law lets Congress alone set trade policy. Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 gives Congress sole power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes."

For 200 years, it worked this way. No longer. Presidents increasingly have diktat authority. They take full advantage.

George Bush usurped "unitary executive" powers. Chalmers Johnson called doing so "a ball-faced assertion of presidential supremacy dressed up in legal mumbo jumbo."

It doesn't matter. Obama operates the same way. He rules by executive orders, other unilateral directives, and unchecked presidential authority.

He does what he pleases. He exceeds the worst of all his predecessors. He takes full constitutional advantage of Article II, Section 1, stating:

"The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America."

Article II, Section 3 adds:

"The President shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

Omitted is saying presidents operate extrajudicially. They make policy. They implement it unilaterally.

Executive power is what presidents want it to be. They usurp as much as they wish. They wage wars on their own authority. They bypass Congress doing so.

They ignore Article I, Section 8 affording Congress sole power to declare war.

Presidents make treaties without Senate ratification. Advise and consent only are involved. They terminate treaties unilaterally. Bush ended ABM by executive decree.

In recent decades, presidents usurped congressional authority. They fast-tracked trade deals. They've done so 16 times in US history.

NAFTA and WTO were the two most recent examples. Fast track lets presidents unilaterally choose trade partners.

It lets him set terms. It prevents congressional amendments. Up or down votes without debate alone follow. A 90 day limit is imposed.

Fast track authority requires congressional approval. Clinton got it twice. Bush got it once. In the dead of night. In 2002 at 3:30AM before a congressional recess.

Proponents tried overcoming fast track's abhorrent reputation. They renamed it "Trade Promotion Authority."

Candidate Obama opposed fast track. He pledged replacing it if elected. President Obama prioritizes it. He wants public opposition ignored.

So far he's fallen short. Enough public opposition may deny him altogether. It's high time he got slapped down hard.

Maybe more times will follow. Maybe his war on humanity can be stopped. Maybe global war can be avoided. When enough people forthrightly demand responsible change, anything is possible.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen (at) sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

This work is in the public domain.
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