by Tom Broderick
The people united will never be defeated! Good chant, but also a clear reflection of the defeat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Negotiated in secret by hundreds of corporate advisers it went down in flames thanks to the power of the people. The TPP threatened environmental laws, health and safety regulations and public interest policies. The TPP sought to limit food safety inspections on imported foods. Countries that signed the agreement could simply declare that their food safety inspections were on par with ours. The TPP would have gutted Buy American / Buy Local procurement policies which keeps our tax dollars invested in our communities. The TPP would have expanded corporate power with special investor rights and allowed tribunals of corporate lawyers to adjudicate lawsuits brought by trans-national corporations against U.S. taxpayers. These tribunals are known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). Complaints would be filed and settled completely outside the U.S. judicial system and would not be subject to appeal.
Chicago DSA pushed hard to defeat the TPP. Green Party Presidential candidate, Jill Stein and Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump came out loud and strong against the TPP. With pressure from Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was dragged into the TPP fray more or less against her will, finally declaring she was against it. Of the four major candidates, only the Libertarian Presidential candidate, Gary Johnson supported signing the agreement.
As a candidate, the donald pledged he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to make it “much better” for working Americans. NAFTA is a trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. The donald said “NAFTA has been a catastrophe for our country; it’s been a catastrophe for our workers and our jobs and companies.” The White House web site said the donald “will withdraw from NAFTA if the U.S. doesn’t get a better deal.” This is something he could do. He could simply pull the United States out of NAFTA.
Chicago DSA and West Suburban Illinois DSA are working with Public Citizen, gathering post cards calling on the donald to replace NAFTA. The cards demand that the donald “replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with a deal benefiting working people in all three countries, not just the multinational corporations. This means ending the NAFTA investor protections and the ban on Buy American/Buy Local procurement that promote job-offshoring, removing investor-state dispute settlement, and requiring that food imports meet U.S. safety rules. A new deal must only go into effect if countries enact and enforce strong labor, wage and environmental standards. Nothing to make NAFTA even worse, like monopoly protections for Big Pharma can be included.”
Although claiming he intended to “drain the swamp,” the donald has appointed very dubious characters to the Departments of Commerce and Trade as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lightizer is referred to as a skeptic of free trade deals, but represented a business controlled by the Chinese government in a lawsuit brought against the U.S. taxpayers in 1991. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, was described by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D. MA) as “practically a cartoon stereotype of a Wall Street fat cat who has no interest in anyone but himself.” As a billionaire investor in a car parts company, he sent U.S. jobs to Mexico, taking advantage of NAFTA rules. He is also an investor in a Chinese government backed company.
Two former Goldman Sachs big wigs in the donald’s administration are Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director, Gary Cohn. Mnuchin was “part of the cadre of corporate raiders that brought our economy to its knees” according to Senator Scott Menendez (D. NJ) during Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing. Senator Ron Wyden (D. OR) referred to Mnuchin as “the foreclosure king” during the same hearing. Former President of Goldman Sachs, Gary Cohn has suggested a very watered down reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act might be appropriate. According to The American Prospect, Cohn’s version would allow for increased banking deregulation. Something near and dear to any Goldman Sachs bankster heart. Scott Pruitt, a self described “leading advocate aginst the EPA’s activist agenda” is now heading that Agency He has repeatedly sued the EPA.
Although yet to be confirmed, the donald’s choice to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture is Sunny Perdue. Before he was elected Governor of Georgia, he made a great deal of money peddling fertilizer. As Governor of Georgia he signed a bill blocking local communities from enacting regulations against animal cruelty, for worker safety and against pollution at factory farms in Georgia. Georgia is the home of many large industrial farms. Quite a mash-up of the pro-investment moneybag folk.
After the Congressional recess, the donald and his pack of pirates are likely to begin the process of renegotiating NAFTA. That would begin with a letter notifying the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee stating that the donald wants to begin renegotiating NAFTA. Both committees would have to agree to renegotiation. It will be our responsibility to make trouble for the well-heeled one-percenters who don’t give a rat’s ass for democracy, workers’ rights, and the health of people and planet. No top secret negotiations allowed. Let the leaks spring forth.
More from DSA:
Not This NAFTA (1993)
Renegotiate NAFTA (2008)
Fair Trade Not Free Trade from the New Ground archives