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Sanders writes: "America's trade agreements benefit large multinational corporations and Wall Street, but are a disaster for working families. We must defeat the TPP."

Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Bob Clark/Getty)
Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Bob Clark/Getty)

So-Called 'Free Trade' Policies Hurt US Workers Every Time We Pass Them

By Bernie Sanders, Guardian UK

01 May 15


America’s trade agreements benefit large multinational corporations and Wall Street, but are a disaster for working families. We must defeat the TPP

lbert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. As the middle class continues to decline and the gap between the very rich and everyone else grows wider, we should keep that in mind as Congress debates the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the largest trade agreement in American history.

Trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), the Central American Free Trade Agreement (Cafta) and the granting of Permanent Normal Trade Relations to China have been abysmal failures: they allowed corporations to shut down operations in the US and move work to low-wage countries where people are forced to work for pennies an hour; and they are one of the reasons that we have lost almost 60,000 factories in our country and millions of good-paying jobs since 2001.

The TPP is simply the continuation of a failed approach to trade – an approach which benefits large multinational corporations and Wall Street, but which is a disaster for working families. The TPP must be defeated, but our overall trade policy must also change for corporations to start investing in America and creating jobs here again, and not just in China and other low wage countries.

Before even Congress votes on any final trade agreement, the President has asked for “fast track authority” (also called Trade Promotion Authority or TPA) to complete TPP negotiations with 11 other countries. Fast track would relinquish Congress’s constitutional authority to the President to “regulate commerce with foreign nations”, limit our debate and prevent members of Congress from improving trade agreements to benefit the American people.

I intend to do everything I can to defeat both fast track and the overall TPP agreement. Our goal in Congress must be to make sure that American-made products, not American jobs, are our number-one export. We’ll never be able to do that if we enact the TPP and continue negotiating other treaties based on the same failed policies.

For instance, two of the countries in the TPP are Vietnam and Malaysia. In Vietnam, the minimum wage is equivalent to 56 cents an hour, independent labor unions are banned and people are thrown in jail for expressing their political beliefs or trying to improve labor conditions. In Malaysia, migrant workers who manufacture electronics products are working as modern-day slave laborers who have had their passports and wages confiscated and are unable to return to their own countries. American workers should not have to “compete” against people forced to work under these conditions. This is not “free trade”; it is a race to the bottom.

And this “free trade” agreement focuses on much more than just buying and selling goods. It is part of an effort to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by offshoring jobs, undercutting worker rights, and dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws. Under TPP, for instance, Vietnamese companies would be able to compete with American companies for federal contracts funded by US taxpayers, undermining “Buy American” laws.

The TPP would also threaten US sovereignty by giving foreign corporations the right to challenge before international tribunals any law that could reduce their “expected future profits”. This provision, known as the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), has allowed Phillip Morris to sue Uruguay from its headquarters in Switzerland over the former’s laws designed to discourage children and pregnant women from smoking. The French utility, Veolia, is suing Egypt under these same provisions over an increase in the national minimum wage.

In addition to harming American workers, the TPP would increase the price of life-saving prescription drugs in poor countries by making it harder for them to obtain affordable generic drugs. That’s why Doctors without Borders has said: “the TPP agreement is on track to become the most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines in developing countries.”

Supporters of the TPP claim that this treaty will create good-paying jobs in the United States and reduce the trade deficit – but that’s exactly what they said about Nafta, PNTR with China, and the South Korea trade agreement, among others, and they have been proven dead wrong each and every time.

In 1993, President Clinton promised that Nafta would create 200,000 American jobs in two years; instead, Nafta has led to the loss of more than 680,000 jobs. In 1999, we were promised that PNTR with China would open up the Chinese economy to American made goods and services; instead, it led to the loss of more than 2.7m American jobs. In 2011, the US Chamber of Commerce told us that the South Korea free trade agreement would create some 280,000 jobs; instead, it has led to the loss of some 60,000 jobs.

Enough is enough! If we are serious about rebuilding the middle class and creating the millions of good paying jobs we desperately need, we must fundamentally rewrite our trade policies. We must not give the president – let alone the next one –fast track authority, and we must defeat the TPP. your social media marketing partner


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+49 # jon 2015-05-01 09:18
Thank you for speaking the truth, Senator.

We will all be happier when we can say: "Mr. President!"
+5 # ritawalpoleague 2015-05-01 12:03
And let us/U.S. hope that dear Sen. Bernie, is plenty protected, i.e. is on the 'mandatory second pre-flight inspection list'. I have proof certain that I am now on that list, having been so told by crew members on the last two flights I've taken.

And, what exactly have flight crews told me? That based on my name's being on passenger list, "...a second pre-flight inspection becomes mandatory." Crew thanked me, repeatedly. Crew member from second to the last flight whose flight list I've been on, told me that on first pre-flight inspection, everything was o.k., but on second 'mandatory pre-flight inspection', it was found that had plane taken off, "...there would have been mechanical failure."

On the next/last flight I took, crew on flight that replaced the cancelled return flight on whose passenger list my name had appeared, told me that on pre-flight inspection #1, all was found to be o.k., but on mandatory second pre-flight inspection, engine was found to be beginning to fall apart. So...

Sen. Bernie, please verify that you are 1. on 'mandatory second pre-flight inspection list', and 2. have many local, county, state and fed. officials confirm for you what I've been told is being done on me: "We are keeping a close eye on you, to keep you safe."

Hopefully, both 1. and 2. are now in place, along with much more protection for Sen. Bernie, since...

+7 # RGV.REG 2015-05-01 15:39
Yes, Thank you, Bernie
Why don't we just call the TPP for what it is, a ruling class that supersedes governments - a new world order !
+16 # reiverpacific 2015-05-01 09:45
"If we are serious about rebuilding the middle class and creating the millions of good paying jobs we desperately need" (quote from article).
Of course the dominant corporate/milit ary dominated Powers of this burgeoning, fragmented and fear-filled Oligarchy DON'T want to "rebuild" the Middle and Lower classes but rather to enslave them by allowing minimal education, keep them boxed in by a rotted infrastructure, ignorant and fearful of the country and the world beyond it by a patsy-commercia lized media, cowed and shit-scared of becoming sick or hurt by lack of Universal Healthcare, bereft of rights through the continuing decimation of Union representation -BUT handy as disposable, interchangeable drones in menial work and as cannon-fodder for their never-ending wars of attrition and plunder by maintaining a thin carapace of faux-patriotism.
Senators Sanders, Warren and sadly a small minority of others in the Halls of Powerlessness are loud and courageous voices, punching wa--y-y-y above their weights in opposing the wealthy, powerful, press-owning powers and forces arrayed in serried ranks against them, bolstered by a semi-Theologica l and corporate personhood-reco gnizing, force-fed and feeding SCOTUS arguing by rote for unlimited spending by the few who can afford it in this trickle up, fear-driven country.
Geez, I needed that!
+13 # WestWinds 2015-05-01 10:47

--- Yah, it's called a "Slave Economy" and they want it to go global (the %&#*#%$!!!)
+27 # Trish42 2015-05-01 09:47
This is a clear explanation of some of the most egregious parts of the TPP. It's just another reason I'm proceeding from here to Bernie's web site to give him $!
+17 # WestWinds 2015-05-01 10:59
Quoting Trish42:
This is a clear explanation of some of the most egregious parts of the TPP. It's just another reason I'm proceeding from here to Bernie's web site to give him $!

--- And I'm right behind you. Let's take this to the mat.
+13 # turtleislander 2015-05-01 10:38
The long national nightmare will end one way or the other. Better give Bernie a shot. I'd prefer the nightmare to end in a good way.
+21 # since1492 2015-05-01 10:47
You just have to look at who's writing these new trade agreements. You don't need to know the content. These trade agreements are being written by corporations, not our legislators. So the rights of corporate citizens, which are corporations, will have a higher priority in government dealings with trade issues. The laws to cripple union organizing were also not written by state legislators. Those anti-union laws were written by ALEC and signed by our state senators. They want the same thing with the TPP and fast track will deliver for them.
+23 # aljoschu 2015-05-01 10:56
We people in Europe also want to fight TTIP - why don't we join forces?
+13 # PABLO DIABLO 2015-05-01 10:57
+18 # hkatzman 2015-05-01 11:04
When we hear the phrase "Free Trade" we think of freedom. In reality "Free Trade" actually means unregulated trade.
By regulation, I mean the restrictions we make upon ourselves in order to promote the common good.
Free trade is allowing those with concentrated power to have no checks upon even further amassing of power, to the public's detriment.
The goal of an economic system is the fair allocation of resources for the most people. This is not where our economy is going. Our goal should be, not greater profits because this only goes to a small concentrated group, but for more and better-paying jobs because this will allow more people to participate in the economy and create more and more wealth for the most people.
The TPP will not create new jobs. It can only create a further pressure to export jobs overseas.
On top of this, because products are "freely" (unregulated) made overseas, we lose track of product standards and our products are becoming poisonous. (Just in the news, laminated flooring treated with the carcinogen formaldehyde.)
+12 # Sweet Pea 2015-05-01 11:51
Bernie makes sense. Kind of sounds like we got sold down the river, but a better expression would be sold over the ocean.
+10 # Blackjack 2015-05-01 13:11
All these bad trade deals have been going on since NAFTA (brought to us by Bill Clinton) and no one since then has questioned it until Bernie and Elizabeth. Thank you both and may you both be president. . .Bernie first because he is ready for it now.
+7 # Radscal 2015-05-01 14:06
NAFTA was a HUGE step on the march towards global fascism, but it was hardly the first.

Really, the Boston Tea Party was a revolt against a corporatist agreement between the Crown and the East India Trade Company.

The modern era of global fascism could be traced to The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1947. From that we got the incremental additions of the World Trade Organization and the World Bank which are the framework of the entire system.

It is not a coincidence that GATT was written the same year that the National Security Act was. NSA gave us the National Security Agency, CIA, ECHELON (the first mass surveillance system), etc. etc. These controlling structures help to enforce the global fascist "one world order."
+13 # Pikewich 2015-05-01 13:48
This is why I am joyfully contributing to his campaign.

We can trust Bernie to do what he says.


Because he has been saying this and fighting for these principles for decades, unlike any of the other candidates, some of whom are starting to "talk the talk" because they know we want it, but we know will NOT "walk the walk".
+10 # Radscal 2015-05-01 14:08
Just a reminder for those who still think Ms. Clinton is a viable representative: Though she's taken to obfuscating her stand on TPP, as Secretary of State, she was more direct:

"we need to keep upping our game both bilaterally and with partners across the region through agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP"
+3 # john.schoonover 2015-05-01 21:29
Help Bernie get elected.

Petition Move On to back him and drop the Draft Warren campaign:
+2 # Blackjack 2015-05-02 10:55
You are right. Move On thought it was getting ahead of the curve by trying to draft Warren, who has repeatedly said she isn't running. Now that Bernie has announced, if Move On is to have any future credibility, it must drop the "Draft Warren" pleas and channel its support to Bernie.

Just sent Bernie money today. Hope others will do likewise. He offers REAL hope for a change!
-3 # pietheyn07 2015-05-01 23:07
The TPP is the economic link to promote U.S. legitimacy in the Asian military pivot. Please connect the dots.
+1 # Working Class 2015-05-03 13:35
Quoting pietheyn07:
The TPP is the economic link to promote U.S. legitimacy in the Asian military pivot. Please connect the dots.

US legitimacy? WOW - that's a great concept. We should definitely try it one of these days in our dealings around the world.
+4 # kitster 2015-05-02 08:40
have you got eyes amerika? can you read the truth? bernie is laying it all out for you like cold supper. this is the person that deserves to be president. he doesn't mince words or flinch from the facts. there's even a movie out there, of a speech by a new zeelander, that hits the same bad point by bad point about the tpp that everyone should see. what's more important: gay marrriage or good jobs? despite his deference to his political donors, this tpp will damn obama's presidency to hell. save potus o from committing suiside...liste n to bernie, protest the tpp and strike a blow for yourself for a change.
+1 # Cassandra2012 2015-05-02 16:04
But be aware the inane, deliberately ignorant out there who will go on and on about his being an 'ooooh scary SOCIALIST' which for the uneducated Faux Noise watchers only means '1950s Soviet and Chinese Communists' ... . They still have NO idea that most of the things that are GOOD for people here — public education, firefighters and cops that have to respond to ALL the people and not just the wealthy, the Post Office (it still delivers on Sat. and doesn't cost the moon), public transit, public libraries, ACA etc.etc. are essentially 'socialism'.
Nor do they realize that the European countries which are "Democratic Socialist" (and to some extent Canada and Australia as well) have a much higher standard of living than we do!

Until those facts are repeated and repeated and repeated and exemplified by Bernie and all his supporters so as to counteract the lies and propaganda of e.g., Faux Noise, and ALEC, and the lying, cheating Tealiban, Teapugnican kandidates such as Scott Walker, Bruce Rauner, Canadian Ted Cruz, Jeb of the crime family Bush, et al, few inroads will be made into the knee-jerk reactions to 'Socialist' which even sometimes includes NAZIs (because of the misleading term National Socialist they originally carried.)'
If we all contribute we can counteract the lies both in terms of donations, and in terms of not letting ignorance stand.
+2 # Vardoz 2015-05-02 14:14
HOP TO IT, and forget the glass is half empty... Fill the gap with YOUR and MY activism! Political Revolution all the way... and even if one "loses", the impact is made. But think not of loss; think of gain, Big Gain with Bernie out there!! Show the Dems their corporate connections make for a weak backbone! We need you to help make the first step: the impact of viable ideas for this country - ideas which have worked in other parts of the world. America has the money, resources, and know how---it's just a matter of getting rid of Citizens[not]Un ited and showing corporate power that WE HAVE THE NUMBERS (of People), and from that standpoint, we have the power--power which can be harnessed for Right Ideas, via a candidate like !
+2 # Vardoz 2015-05-02 14:15
There is a reason why Vermonters always reelect Senator Sanders. They know what he stands for and it's not the Koch brothers or corporate America or Billionaires. He's for the 99% with a lot of experience under his belt as mayor, congressmen and senator. Lets not allow those at the top shove Hilary down our throats! Bernie did not get paid by Wall St to tell them it would be business as usual, he did not vote for the Iraq war, the Patriot act that takes away our right to due ... See More
Occupy Democrats
Moving America FORWARD
0 # tapsearcher 2015-05-13 17:10

Obviously workers were never asked about it.
If free trade is about trading partners being able to conduct business with each other without interference from government, then why does governments act a broker and dealers in the process and make all kinds of stipulations of who can do what to who?
Who said workers are tools of Capitalism in a forced march to globalization of the world. - View - For whom the bells toll - showing a list of companies and jobs losses for only one year in 1998

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