Iowa Town Hall Meetings Discussing TPP This Week

Dave Johnson

The notorious Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) corporate-rights agreement is opposed by the Democratic candidate for President, the Republican candidate for President, the Democratic Party platform, all labor unions, thousands of citizen groups like faith, human rights, consumer, environmental, small business, and almost every other kind of group representing the interests of citizens. Hundreds of legal and economic scholars recently signed a letter opposing TPP. And polls show that as people learn about TPP they shift from no opinion to opposition.

But Wall Street, giant multinational corporations, and their corporate lobbying organizations like the Chamber of Commerce want TPP. You know what that means. TPP is probably coming up for a vote after the election in the no-accountability “lame duck” session of Congress. It can be stopped and a group of organizations are taking the fight to Iowa this week.

Iowa Town Hall Meetings This Week

This week Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (along with Iowa CCI Action), Our Revolution (Bernie Sanders’ group), and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) will hold a series of town hall meetings across Iowa. Our Revolution president Larry Cohen wrote about this in an article for Iowa’s Quad-City Times in Guest view: TPP is what’s wrong with US trade policy. (The article also appears in the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.) Cohen wrote:

We will be discussing the TPP and mobilizing opposition but most importantly demanding that all candidates for the House and Senate tell us which side they are on. TPP will be the major issue facing Congress for at least the rest of 2016—it is unacceptable for House members or candidates to say they don’t know where they stand or that they haven’t read it.

That “tell us which side they are on” part is key. Getting members of Congress on the record now, before the election, will help defeat TPP. They know there is plenty of opposition. They know that the more people hear about TPP, the more people become opposed. They know they can’t publicly say they are for it before the election, then vote for it right after the election.

TPP Sold As “Trade”

TPP is sold as a “trade” deal, because the word “trade” makes people think of people in places that grow bananas “trading” with people who make cars, with both sides benefitting. Advocates of TPP say things like, “95 percent of the world is outside of the United States, and we have to trade with them,” as if the choice is TPP or not trading with the world.

But “trade” has come to mean one and only one thing: corporate domination of governments and economies, where factories are moved to the lowest-wage, lowest-protection areas so investors and executives can pocket the wage difference and threaten workers who still have jobs with moving their job, too.

In his Iowa op-ed Larry Cohen lays out a better way:

A new trade regime would create balance between investor’s rights and the rights of citizens. A new trade regime would place our jobs and communities, and our rights as consumers above the rights of multinational companies. For example, instead of celebrating new protections for pharmaceutical corporations to set prices and block regulation, we would celebrate trade deals that promote the rights of all of us.

Imagine a “trade” deal that really is about increasing trade and prosperity for everyone in the affected countries instead of an already-wealthy few. Imagine a “trade” deal that guarantees a reasonable minimum wage for workers. Imagine a “trade” deal with terms that prohibit threatening workers with loss of jobs. Imagine a “trade” deal that prohibits environmental destruction for profit. Imagine a “trade” deal that guarantees small businesses a reasonable share of the resulting “trade.” That is what a true “trade” deal might look like if all of the “stakeholders” in these deals had a seat at the negotiating table.

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