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Recently I wrote of the coming wave of destructive evil from Washington (the latest, as that tide ever brings the same). Courtesy of Barry Obama and John (the tan smoker) Boehner “your” federal government is moving towards new, secret, and purely ruinous foreign trade powers.
Frequently I deride the horrors of politicians and politics in general – see these links for details. The New York Times and NPR report that, as of Friday, the malicious train of ObamaTrade has been temporarily derailed. I say temporarily because things like this are usually a done deal once they start.
“Eighty-six Republicans voted for the program, more than double the 40 Democrats who supported it. But the trade adjustment assistance bill failed when 303 voted against it.
Republican leaders then passed, in a 219-to-211 vote, a stand-alone bill that would grant the president the trade negotiating authority he sought. But that measure cannot go to the president for his signature because the Senate version of the legislative package combined both trade adjustment and trade promotion.” New York Times.
I was pleased the popular press reported on this issue – they lacked the zeal these reserve for important stories (say, about Caitlyn Jenner) – but they did, at least, report. I was a little dismayed they left off important reference information for the inquisitive public. The Bill in question is H.R. 1314(EAS), the Trade Act of 2015.
This gem of K Street legalese would, among other things, amend the Tax Code of 1986 in order to help large organizations make more money at your expense. It would also grant the President new and unprecedented unilateral trade powers. Pay no heed to that Congressional consent nonsense in the Constitution.
Get a load of this:
(b) Principal Trade Negotiating Objectives-
(1) TRADE IN GOODS- The principal negotiating objectives of the United States regarding trade in goods are–
(A) to expand competitive market opportunities for exports of goods from the United States and to obtain fairer and more open conditions of trade, including through the utilization of global value chains, by reducing or eliminating tariff and nontariff barriers and policies and practices of foreign governments directly related to trade that decrease market opportunities for United States exports or otherwise distort United States trade; and
(B) to obtain reciprocal tariff and nontariff barrier elimination agreements, including with respect to those tariff categories covered in section 111(b) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (19 U.S.C. 3521(b)).
(2) TRADE IN SERVICES- (A) The principal negotiating objective of the United States regarding trade in services is to expand competitive market opportunities for United States services and to obtain fairer and more open conditions of trade, including through utilization of global value chains, by reducing or eliminating barriers to international trade in services, such as regulatory and other barriers that deny national treatment and market access or unreasonably restrict the establishment or operations of service suppliers.
(B) Recognizing that expansion of trade in services generates benefits for all sectors of the economy and facilitates trade, the objective described in subparagraph (A) should be pursued through all means, including through a plurilateral agreement with those countries willing and able to undertake high standard services commitments for both existing and new services.
– H.R. 1314, Sec. 102. TRADE NEGOTIATING OBJECTIVES.
(4) AGGREGATE REDUCTION; EXEMPTION FROM STAGING-
(A) AGGREGATE REDUCTION- Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the aggregate reduction in the rate of duty on any article which is in effect on any day pursuant to a trade agreement entered into under paragraph (1) shall not exceed the aggregate reduction which would have been in effect on such day if–
(i) a reduction of 3 percent ad valorem or a reduction of 1/10 of the total reduction, whichever is greater, had taken effect on the effective date of the first reduction proclaimed under paragraph (1) to carry out such agreement with respect to such article; and
(ii) a reduction equal to the amount applicable under clause (i) had taken effect at 1-year intervals after the effective date of such first reduction.
(B) EXEMPTION FROM STAGING- No staging is required under subparagraph (A) with respect to a duty reduction that is proclaimed under paragraph (1) for an article of a kind that is not produced in the United States. The United States International Trade Commission shall advise the President of the identity of articles that may be exempted from staging under this subparagraph.
(5) ROUNDING- If the President determines that such action will simplify the computation of reductions under paragraph (4), the President may round an annual reduction by an amount equal to the lesser of–
(A) the difference between the reduction without regard to this paragraph and the next lower whole number; or
(B) 1/2 of 1 percent ad valorem.
– H.R. 1314, Sec. 103, TRADE AGREEMENTS AUTHORITY.
Make any sense to you? Of course not. And, this is the part that is open for public inspection. A shadow bill, the real law, is still locked up and under armed guard in the Capital basement vault. What kind of government operates like this? Sadly, “ours’ does.
Members of the respective houses of Congress can (allegedly) enter the vault to read the shadow text. Rand Paul did so. “’I think I am not supposed to reveal the details of it, but I can tell you it was about 800 pages long,’ Paul said.” Breitbart. “Paul said he thinks the secretive process makes it look like the government has “something to hide” and that he thinks if Obama opened up the process it’d make it easier for several Senators—and the American people—to truly understand what it is they’re voting on.” Id.
They do have something to hide. They always do. The details are in the vault, so to speak. The fact that a U.S. Senator has to keep mum about the text demonstrates this without question.
Another telling facet is the desperation among Republicans and the White House to pass this filth. “The fate of the trade legislation now depends on Obama’s ability, along with business-friendly interests, to persuade dozens of Democrats to switch their votes before a planned do-over vote early next week.” Washington Post.
The President is literally pleading with his own party to help him screw the American People. He’s already won over many of the “loyal opposition.” At a Washington Nationals ballgame last week “a bizarre scene unfolded as the crowd crammed inside Nationals Park lurched into a chant about the legislation. ‘TPA! TPA! TPA!’ chanted Republican congressional aides seated near the first base dugout when Obama stepped onto the field at the top of the fourth inning.” Fox News. “TPA” refers to Trade Prostitution Act.
Another telling feature is the desires of large U.S. corporate interests to pass the Bill. The more power their political puppets have, the more money they can make. You and your retirement plans be damned. “’Manufacturers will not back down in this fight for expanded trade, for the future of our industry and our country,’ the National Association of Manufacturers said in a statement.” Business Leaders React With Dismay to Defeat of Trade Bill, New York Times. Naturally, they have yachts to buy.
Some out here in the real country get it. “Do you remember back in the 1990s when the United States entered into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)? And the subsequent Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)? These trade agreements have not worked out well for American workers. American jobs went to Mexico. American workers were laid off and communities devastated. American companies, just to increase their profits, built their production plants in Mexico and paid their workers pennies on the dollar for their labor.” Remember NAFTA and CAFTA? Well, here comes SHAFTA, Economy in Crisis.
Unfortunately, we have not learned our lesson — even after two decades of failed trade agreements. Right now Congress is considering entering into another trade agreement with South Pacific countries named the Trans Pacific Partnership, otherwise known as TPP. However, this trade agreement is even more onerous than previous failed trade agreements.
* The TPP was constructed in secret by corporations. Congress and the public had no input. This is fundamentally undemocratic and undermines transparency in government.
* It is a trade deal that increases corporate power and CEO bonuses.
* Thousands of jobs out-sourced to countries that do not respect human rights or worker’s rights.
* It allows transnational corporations to sue countries if they believe they have been harmed (sometimes speculatively) in a trade agreement written by corporations and behind closed doors.
* Expands the deregulation of banks, hedge funds and insurance companies. Remember the Wall Street crash of 2008 due to deregulation? Regulations keep corporations honest and prevent them from harming us.
* Harms environmental regulations in counties that are part of the TPP.
The corporations are now done writing their secret trade agreement, and Congress now has to vote up or down on the law. The Obama administration is seeking “fast track” authority from Congress in order to complete the negotiations. This means there will be no committee hearings, expert testimony or amendments. The Obama administration is taking this anti-democratic approach because they know if this treaty was debated, it would never become law.
– SHAFTA, Id.
Read that again. Let it sink in.
Last week, prior to the vote and temporary corporate profit defeat, I called my Congress Critter, one Rick Allen, for his input. While I live in his District, he does not necessarily represent me. Since the departure of Ron Paul I have had no semblance of representation in Washington. So it goes.
Amerika being what it is these day I was unable to speak directly with my employee. Rather, I had a conversation with a polite young fellow named Eric. He laughed and admitted, yes, much of the Bill is secret. (F’ing hilarious!) He did note that I could read all about the public parts – see Thomas quotes, above. True to his position and the nature of his work he would not say definitively whether my boy Allen was in favor of sending more jobs oversees and more money to Wall Street.
As an aside, Allen did vote against the Bill. Then he immediately voted to keep it alive for future consideration. How very political of him.
Eric was well aware of the TPA chant at the baseball game. Though he was not present he did state that several of his office mates were. I warned him of what Marcus Aurelius said about this kind of thing. The Roman leader and philosopher was solidly against jingoistic public displays of partisan passion. My warning was likely lost – then and now.
If you care you may contact some staffer of your “representative,” whoever that may be. Just click this little link to locate your dedicated servant: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.
You may be able to visually pick him/her out of the following picture. This photograph is of a general Congressional pow-wow over the Bill last week:
(They do all look the same. Google.)