Elizabeth Warren and Rosa DeLauro recently co-authored an article posted at the Boston Globe (titled Who is writing the TPP?) which says, "Hillary Clinton has said that the United States should be advocating a level and fair playing field, not special favors for big business, in our trade deals. We agree with this blunt assessment."
Some people might find it odd that Elizabeth Warren (or was it Rosa DeLauro?) would quote Hillary Clinton, who was really only quoting Elizabeth Warren. But overall, it's a great article, and it also goes on to say that "28 trade advisory committees have been intimately involved in the [TPP] negotiations. Of the 566 committee members, 480, or 85 percent, are senior corporate executives or representatives from industry lobbying groups. Many of the advisory committees are made up entirely of industry representatives."
This is true, and you can see who they are in a link further below in this post. But here is where the main gripe is, that both left-wing progressives and right-wing Tea Partiers can fully agree on, when the article goes on to say:
A rigged process leads to a rigged outcome. For evidence of that tilt, look at a key TPP provision: Investor-State Dispute Settlement [ISDS] where big companies get the right to challenge laws they don’t like in front of industry-friendly arbitration panels that sit outside of any court system. Those panels can force taxpayers to write huge checks to big corporations — with no appeals. Workers, environmentalists, and human rights advocates don’t get that special right.
Most Americans don’t think of the minimum wage or antismoking regulations as trade barriers. But a foreign corporation has used ISDS to sue Egypt because Egypt raised its minimum wage. Phillip Morris has gone after Australia and Uruguay to stop them from implementing rules to cut smoking rates. Under the TPP, companies could use ISDS to challenge these kinds of government policy decisions — including food safety rules.
The president dismisses these concerns, but some of the nation’s top experts in law and economics are pushing to drop ISDS provisions from future trade agreements. Economist Joe Stiglitz, Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, and others recently noted that “the threat and expense of ISDS proceedings have forced nations to abandon important public policies” and that “laws and regulations enacted by democratically elected officials are put at risk in a process insulated from democratic input.” That was exactly what Germany did in 2011 when it cut back on environmental protections after an ISDS lawsuit.
Elizabeth Warren and Rosa DeLauro could have also mentioned Coke in their article. When the government of Australia's Northern Territory considered creating a 10-cent refund on recycling plastic bottles, Coca-Cola poured millions of dollars into a misleading campaign to oppose the plan. But after the people Down Under had decided, the plan had passed --- but then Coke sued the government to stop the program. Coca-Cola runs similar campaigns all over the world. Of course, this is only one of many other examples.
In other words, President Obama and others who are pushing hard for the TPP trade agreement are really advocating to forfeit our national sovereignty to a group of "multi-national" corporations.
The YouTube video below is a 14-minute speech given by Senator Elizabeth Warren during a livestream event called "Rewriting the Rules" that was hosted by the Roosevelt Institute in Washington DC on May 12, 2015. They were gathered to celebrate and comment on an outstanding paper by Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz titled "Rewriting the Rules". Other speakers included Mayor Bill de Blasio and panel of expert economists and strategists. (Here is the 115-page report (PDF) called "Rewriting the Rules" by the Roosevelt Institute's Chief Economist, Joseph Stiglitz.)
An organization of business lobbyists and huge corporations (that Warren had alluded to in her article) called "Trade Benefits America" has recently been plastering the airwaves with ads on TV promoting the TPP trade agreement. This is what the Supreme Court meant when they said corporations are people with free speech — because these "multi-national" corporations also have the most money to dominate the airwaves with the biggest megaphones and bombard us with the most political ads, while overriding everyone else's opinions on these matters and drowning out the "free speech" of much smaller and lesser organized voices.
And the corporate media running these ads are complicit, because just 6 corporations control 90% of the media in America. Recently it was announced that Verizon is going to buy out AOL (who also owns the Huffington Post) for $4.4 billion in cash — rather than give Verizon workers a raise.
- Currently the U.S. has 67,161 less factories than it did in 1997 — thanks to these trade deals (One recent study exposes the "reshoring" myth).
- U.S. mergers and acquisitions (in deals worth $1 billion or more) were up 48% last year.
- Last year U.S. corporations spent almost $1 trillion in “stock buybacks”.
- U.S. corporations hold $2.1 trillion in untaxed overseas profits offshore (that we know about).
- "Effective" corporate tax rates are historically low by all measures for U.S. corporations.
- The U.S. stock markets are at all-time record highs, and of course, the top 0.01% owns the vast majority of stocks.
- Wealthy individuals recently bought a painting for $179.4 million and a sculpture for $141.3 million (known as SWAG investments: Silver, wine, art and gold).
- Just like stocks (and CEO's stock options), owners of SWAG investments would pay a lower tax rate on a profitable "capital gain" than a worker would have to pay on regular wages.
- The annual "median" wage for an American worker is a mere $28,000 — while CEOs have been raking in millions of dollars every single year.
- As a percentage of their incomes, the poor also pay more in taxes than the top U.S. CEOs and others in America's top 0.01%.
Just as Senator Warren and many others have been pointing out over the last several years, the majority of U.S. corporate profits haven't trickling down to the U.S. working-class (meaning 90% of all American workers) since 1980 — because most of the gains have been sucked up to the wealthiest 0.01% (those that control the media, the multi-national corporations, the politicians and the U.S. Supreme Court). Now Obama is promoting "more of the same" with this TPP trade agreement.