Trans-Pacific Partnership — what’s the deal?

Seal of the Office of the United States Trade ...I’m deeply disturbed by something Senator Elizabeth Warren has brought to the floor of Congress just recently.

The US Trade Representative is currently conducting negotiations on renewing a trade agreement with several allied nations, called the “Trans-Pacific Partnership.”  Historically, and even under the Bush Administration, this had Congressional oversight.  Apparently, under the Obama Administration — the Administration who’s buzzword is ‘Transparency,” that’s no longer the case.

The US Trade Representative is REFUSING Congressional requests for review — in any capacity, including “scrubbed” versions, with individual country names redacted, but the policy proposals visible.

Why would a treaty involving commerce, and indeed, including representatives from companies like Bank of America, Comcast, TimeWarner, be so secretive?

Indeed, the only Representative in Congress who’s SEEN the agreement, has said the following:

Florida congressman Alan Grayson.

“There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret.”
 — Represenative Alan Grayson (D-FL)

Repeatedly asked for the text that Senator Warren refers to, she, and Congress, have been categorically DENIED.  Why is the US Trade Representative not allowing for either a) Public transparency or b) Congressional transparency when the only member of Congress YET to review it, says there is no concern for National Security?

“…’transparency would undermine the Trade Representative’s policy to complete the trade agreement, because Public Opposition would be significant.’   In other words, if the Public knew what was going on, they would STOP it.”
 — Senator Elizabeth Warren, quoting the US Trade Representative

“If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.”
— Senator Elizabeth Warren

See her speech to Congress here.

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SOPA + PIPA + CISPA = Congress selling out?

ImageFor at the third time, the Congress in the United States is attempting to circumvent the privacy rights of its citizens on the internet.  The first two attempts, the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act failed in Congress because of overwhelming negative feedback from constituents that, was indeed so strong — that even the co-authors wound up pulling their support of the bill.

Why do Representatives in Congress keep trying to shove this type of legislation through?  Is it because of issues that Congress says, which is everything from intellectual property protection to the enforcement of trade embargoes.  OR…

SOPA author Congressman Lamar Smith, a member of the House representing the 21st District of Texas, received almost US$ 2 Million in the last reporting period, according to OpenSecrets.org.  Among his Top 5 Highest Contributors?  CC Media, Comcast and TimeWarner.  What do these companies have in common?  Oh!  Intellectual Property!

Republicans in the United States often argue that “big government” is bad for business — that “big government” today is the basis of why the American economy can’t gain significant traction post-The Great Recession.

However, government in business affairs is okay, on the other hand, when the businesses say it’s okay, apparently.  Fund a Congressman’s campaign — and all of a sudden, you can now write your own legislation, which you hand over to the Congressman’s office, and he places in the ballot box for you.  Sounds preposterous, right?

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Rep. Rachel Burgin     (R-FL)

Sadly, it’s not as preposterous as you may think.  Recently, a Congresswoman from the State House of Florida submitted a Bill for consideration.  In her haste to do so, however, she forgot to remove the cover sheet of the email that it came through.  Rachel Burgin’s blunder blew open the fact that the American Legislative Exchange Council actually WROTE the Bill, and gave it to Burgin to submit, to which she did… without even removing the proof that SHE didn’t write it.   [The Bill can be seen here, in it’s original format, as she submitted it — the name of ALEC is plainly visible on the first page…]

Is this an example of the leadership exhibited by our Members of Congress?  While they can’t come together to work out issues of Party and Partisanship, they quietly collect campaign contributions, and then do their bidding by submitting Bills that they write, in the name of the Representative or Senator they buy and sell like Stocks on an exchange?