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Global Corporations Are Scheming to Take Control of Our Economy — We Can Put a Stop to It

Round 2 in the battle to stop the horrific TPP trade agreement begins. Time to correct the failures of globalized trade.
 
 
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Photo Credit: arindambanerjee/Shutterstock.com

 

The broad movement for fair trade has stalled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  When fast track trade promotion authority was introduced by former Senator Baucus, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, it was announced dead by Harry Reid and many of the members of the Finance Committee. A similar bill in the House also died quickly, not even proceeding to mark-up in the Ways and Means Committee, despite being introduced by its Chairman, David Camp (R-MI).

Congressional leadership including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) all announced that they opposed the Baucus-Camp version of fast track. Vice President Biden acknowledged that trade promotion authority was unlikely this year. This happened because a movement of movements engaged in protests across the country, the issue was raised at town hall meetings and hundreds of thousands of phone calls and emails went to Capitol Hill saying “no” to fast track for the TPP.

But, we knew that efforts to rig global trade in the favor of trans-national corporations would not stop there. The movement of movements that stopped the first version of fast track has been preparing for the next stage.

The new chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), made a speech this week announcing that he was working to introduce a new version of trade promotion authority that he is propagandistically calling “smart-track,” but which sounds more like fast track in sheep’s clothing.  Wyden was vague on the details, but this far into the process any fast track bill being pushed will still rig trade in favor of transnational corporations.

For people who care about worker’s rights, the environment, Internet freedom, health care for all, regulation of banks and big finance, healthy food, access to water and other issues, the fundamental question is: will trade put the necessities of the people and environment before the profits of transnational corporations and the already wealthy? From what we’ve seen, the TPP does not and that is why we must continue to organize not only to stop it but also to redefine how trade is negotiated from the first step and to correct the failures of past trade agreements.

What is Wyden Saying?

Senator Wyden has not announced the details of his proposal for fast track and seems to still be in the process of developing it.  On April 9, Wyden made a speech to the American Apparel & Footwear Association Conference that described a ‘21 st Century trade policy.’

Wyden’s statement came just as President Obama is preparing to travel to Asia at the end of April to meet with leaders of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. The meetings will focus on the TPP and other economic and trade issues. No doubt the Wyden speech will give President Obama something he can say about getting the TPP through Congress since the dead-on-arrival Baucus-Camp trade bill weakened the President’s negotiating position in Asia.

The TPP is the economic part of the Asian pivot that will encircle China militarily, as well as economically. In fact, in his speech Senator Wyden took a swipe at China, something that is a popular thing to do in the United States these days. Wyden criticized their restrictions on the export of rare earth minerals and their state-owned enterprises. The usual – “China has to play by the rules” – applause line was included in the speech.

China may actually have a better economic plan than the US, judging by the last decade of economic performance. Maybe the US should reconsider its neoliberal approach of corporate welfare for big business and treating social services as profit centers for Wall Street. For example, there is no question that turning health care into a commodity, with massive subsidies to the insurance industry and for pharmaceutical research, is the most expensive and least efficient approach to providing health care. There is no doubt that simply improving and expanding Medicare to everyone would have provided better quality health care to all Americans. But that would difficult to achieve under an agreement such as the TPP.