TTIP trade deal defeat in United States Congress

This 18 February 2015 video from the Green Party in England says about itself:

“The Death of Democracy” a public talk on the TTIP

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

Democrats Rebel To Block Obama’s Trade Deals

Posted: 06/12/2015 1:47 pm EDT Updated: 21 minutes ago

WASHINGTON — Democrats rebelled against President Barack Obama’s ambitious trade agenda Friday, spurning his last-second personal appeal and blocking a measure in the House that would have granted him the power to fast-track sweeping, secretive international agreements through Congress.

The Democrats’ revolt focused on a provision that they would normally back — something called Trade Adjustment Assistance, or TAA, which would pay to help retrain workers whose jobs get shipped overseas by trade deals — knowing that killing it would bring fast-track down with it.

But weeks of telephone calls from the White House, countless meetings, negotiations, public feuds and a last-minute trip to Capitol Hill from the president himself did nothing to sway Democrats and the GOP’s conservative wing against [sic; in favour of] Obama’s trade agenda. In an especially stinging rebuke, Obama lost the key vote, 302 to 126, despite his personal lobbying just hours before.

“If TAA slows down the fast-track, I am prepared to vote against TAA,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the House floor. “Because I’m sad to say it’s the only way that we will be able to slow down the fast-track. If TAA fails, the fast-track bill is stopped.”

The TAA measure was included in the fast-track bill in a bid to win Democratic support. But it attracted opposition because funding for the program was seen as too low, and because the Senate decided to pay for it in part by cutting $700 million from Medicare.

House Republicans tried to smooth over that problem with a proposal to vote on TAA separately from the main fast-track bill — known as Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA — and an alternative funding structure that they said would not harm Medicare. But Democrats still felt the assistance was inadequate, and argued that the new funding structure still amounted to voting to take dollars away from Medicare.

“Unfortunately, the TAA proposal is really short for ‘taking away assistance,'” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) on Friday. “It includes substantially less funding than the administration has said was essential to protect those who lose their jobs through expanded trade.”

“TAA should not be a bargaining chip to get a deeply flawed TPA across the finish line,” said Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, who took to the House floor Friday even as Obama made a personal visit to Capitol Hill in an effort to sway his own party members.

Some Republicans view TAA as essentially a wasteful welfare program, and with Democrats voting no, there were not enough members of the majority party to pass the measure.

Doggett said Obama and the administration had only themselves to blame, claiming they’d ignored the long-running complaints from Democrats that the fast-track measure fails to protect workers, environmental standards and financial regulations, and does nothing to stop unfair currency manipulation.

“What really needs adjusting here today is the no-compromise, no-amendment attitude on trade,” said Doggett. “This vote wouldn’t be so close if this process hadn’t been so closed.”

Tensions ran high leading into the vote, and Obama’s visit followed a full-court press by administration officials in a Capitol Hill meeting Thursday. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew failed to win over more Democrats, despite pleas that all but asked Democrats to vote for the agenda because the president needed them. Obama also pushed his cause at the annual congressional baseball game Thursday night, apparently to no avail.

Democrats had repeatedly asked for the administration to make the looming trade deals public before seeking the fast-track power, which lets presidents shove trade pacts quickly through Congress on simple majority votes with no amendments allowed.

The TPA bill only calls for making the deals public after the international negotiators finalize them. There would then be a two-month period to scrutinize the agreements before the president signed them. Congress would still vote, but the pacts would be all but certain to pass in a GOP-controlled House and Senate.

“We in Congress will be in the back seat, not in the falsely claimed driver’s seat,” said Levin on Friday.

The failure does not necessarily mean an end to the battle. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) can bring the measures back if he can find a way to coax more conservative opponents on board.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee who is spearheading the trade push, argued passionately in favor of the deals, saying they were the only way for America to compete in an increasingly globalized economy where many other countries are cutting their own trade agreements that leave out the United States.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

A race to the bottom

THE last 20 years have seen a global campaign to subordinate countries to corporations.

Under the misnomer of “free trade,” the world’s most powerful companies have used their influence over capitalist governments to rewrite the rulebook when it comes to transferring goods, services and people across borders.

The aim is to remove all restrictions on the power of the big transnationals and to demolish the barriers to their activity posed by governments’ right to enforce regulations in the interest of their citizens.

Even as one arm of this neoliberal offensive, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), appears to be faltering – conservatives, liberals and social democrats were forced to delay a European Parliament vote on TTIP this week for fear they would lose it – another is advancing steadily.

This is the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), which delegates to the GMB congress in Dublin heard yesterday will remove restrictions on the movement of “natural persons” between countries.

Fans of what is known as globalisation – who in this country include the leaderships of the Conservative, Labour, Scottish National and Liberal Democrat parties – argue that these “trade” agreements make everyone better off.

The process will create one happy capitalist world in which the old divisions and inequalities between countries will cease to exist.

Sadly, there is no evidence that this is the outcome of the wave after wave of deregulation and “liberalisation” our governments are signing up to.

Global inequality is not diminishing – indeed, poverty in most of Africa and much of Asia is getting worse.

The only places to have made significant steps towards poverty reduction over the last two decades are China and those Latin American countries which have reorientated to the left in the wake of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution – ie precisely those countries which have resisted the neoliberal tide and embraced economic planning.

And as inequality between nations has increased, so has inequality within them.

TiSA builds on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (Gats) which was agreed in 1995 and limits the ability of national governments to stop commercialisation of services such as healthcare, education, water and energy supply.

Services can be supplied within countries signed up to Gats in four “modes,” each depicting a different way in which the supplier is present.

It is Mode 4 – “presence of a natural person” – which acts most strongly to undermine wages and trade union rights.

TiSA will extend the ability of companies to deploy foreign workers in the territory of other states without being subject to the employment laws or collective agreements which apply in those states.

In other words, corporations can undercut local workers while exploiting employees from abroad who will be paid less and work under worse conditions.

In the short term, this causes unemployment and lowers pay.

In the long term it accelerates a race to the bottom for all workers in all participating countries and makes the employment rights the labour movement has fought for over the past two centuries increasingly meaningless.

Don’t want to pay the minimum wage? Simple, just bus in workers not covered by it.

Resistance to such exploitative practices is made all but impossible by making them conditions of membership of ever-larger “free trade” blocs, so countries that object have to leave the entire framework and trade at a disadvantage.

Cold war ideologues used to argue that democracy could not exist without capitalism.

The massive abdication of powers by elected governments enshrined in treaties such as Gats, TiSA and TTIP and through the conditions of EU membership shows that the opposite is the case.

Capitalism can no longer tolerate the democratic right of peoples to decide how their societies should function.

Either capitalism or democracy will emerge victorious in this conflict of interest. They cannot both win.

The US House of Representatives voted Friday by 302-126 to reject a key component of trade legislation sought by the Obama administration and backed by the congressional Republican leadership: here.

OBAMA SCRAMBLES TO RESURRECT TRADE PLAN With House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi refusing to come back to the table to negotiate a workable version of Obama’s trade agenda and today’s vote postponed, “it’s difficult to see how Obama’s trade agenda can be revived.” And Hillary Clinton’s criticism [see also here] of the controversial trade agenda might be the final blow to Obama’s “top legislative priority.” [Ryan Grim and Jennifer Bendery, HuffPost]

TRADE DEAL LIVES AGAIN “Days after the House dealt a setback to President Barack Obama’s trade agenda, GOP leadership is considering plowing ahead with stand-alone legislation that would give the president so-called fast-track authority to shepherd trade deals through Congress.” Here’s what will need to happen for Obama’s embattled trade agenda to succeed. [Laura Barron-Lopez and Jennifer Bendery, HuffPost]

The Republican majority in the US House of Representatives cemented its alliance with the Obama White House over trade legislation on Tuesday, voting to delay final action on a Trade Promotion Authority bill until the end of July. The purpose was to give the Obama administration and corporate lobbyists more time to pressure House Democrats into supporting the “fast-track” trade legislation, which is needed to push through the administration’s anti-Chinese Trans-Pacific Partnership: here.

6 thoughts on “TTIP trade deal defeat in United States Congress

  1. I don’t think democracy is dead at all. There are a lot of people out there mad as anything and there is no secret that it is under attack. We’re getting ready for the fight of our lives.


  2. This is it. Senate Democrats can finally stop fast track for TPP today – but only if they stand strong for workers, the environment, and our Democracy in the face of relentless pressure from the nation’s most powerful corporations.

    Please join our friends at CREDO Action in urging Senate Democrats to Stop Fast Track for TPP.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik


    CREDO action
    Tell Senate Democrats: Stand strong, Stop Fast Track for TPP

    Petition to Senate Democrats:

    “The White House and Republican allies are using procedural gimmicks to try and jam through ‘Fast Track trade authority’ for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The Senate Democrats must stand strong against this corporate power grab and vote against Fast Track for job-killing, secret trade agreements such as the TPP.”

    Add your name:
    Sign the petition ►

    Dear Friend,

    Supporters of dangerous, job-killing trade treaties have regrouped after failing to pass a trade package last week. They’ve changed up their tactics and just passed a so called “clean” version of Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the House of Representatives.

    Now they are desperately trying to jam this bill through the Senate, where there could be votes as early as next week.

    If the Senate Democrats stand strong, and block fresh attempts by Senator Mitch McConnell to railroad through this “clean” version of Fast Track, we can once again stop the TPP. But, we need your help to pressure the Senate Democrats to step up in this fight now.

    Tell Senate Democrats: Stop Fast Track for the TPP. Click here to sign the petition.

    Our campaign to stop Fast Track is being watched around the world. Just days ago the Associated Press reported that Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb told local media that “TPP nations could be just one week’s negotiation away from completing the agreement, but if fast track isn’t resolved in the next two or three weeks, ‘I think we’ve got a real problem with the future of the TPP.'”1

    The failure of the White House and the Republican leadership in Congress to jam Fast Track through Congress so far shows that the hundreds of thousands of CREDO members who spoke out against job-killing trade deals are making a big difference despite an all-out effort by Wall Street lobbyists, and the Chamber of Commerce.

    But, we cannot let up now because President Obama and his allies from the Republican leadership and corporate lobbyists have not given up. They are scrambling, and using gimmicky legislative procedure in a last ditch attempt to save this titanic corporate power grab.

    If we stop Fast Track this week, we will stop the TPP.

    Tell Senate Democrats: Stop Fast Track for the TPP. Click here to sign the petition.

    It’s the job of Congress to fully vet trade deals and ensure they work for everyone, not just giant corporations. And it would be a deeply irresponsible abdication of responsibility for Congress to pass Fast Track when we know the TPP is coming down the pike, especially when we know the consequences of the TPP could be disastrous.

    That is why the overwhelming majority of House Democrats voted against the package of bills that would have advanced Fast Track Authority for the TPP. And dozens of House Republicans voted against Fast Track because it takes power away from Congress and gives it to President Obama.

    You have proven that even in an era where big money rules our political process, your voice still can make a difference. Click below to sign our petition:

    Thank you for speaking out.

    Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
    CREDO Action from Working Assets


  3. Pingback: British artists against TTIP trade deal | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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