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Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Pledge Allegiance to the US Government and Corporate Cabal Conspiracy

I Pledge Allegiance to PHRMA

December 19, 2013

Editorial By Wendy McElroy
The U.S. is attempting to give multinational corporations a status that has hitherto been reserved to sovereign nations. 

According to documents recently leaked from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, the Obama administration wants corporations to be able to challenge the laws and regulations of foreign countries, and bring the dispute to a privately-run international court. The World Trade Organization currently grants the power to challenge a nation's laws only to another nation.

The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement of 2005 (P4) is a treaty between Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei with the goal of facilitating trade in the Asia-Pacific region. Since then, the negotiations for a new and expanded agreement (TPP) have swollen to include 12 nations. The United States has assumed a leadership role since 2010 under the auspice of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). With the possible exception of Japan, the other 10 nations are resisting the corporate empowerment demand upon which the USTR is reportedly inflexible.

Why were the documents 'leaked' and why is the word 'reportedly' being used? The Huffington Post article (Dec. 8, 2013), "Obama Faces Backlash Over New Corporate Powers In Secret Trade Deal," explained: 

"The Obama administration has deemed negotiations to be classified information – banning members of Congress from discussing the American negotiating position with the press or the public. Congressional staffers have been restricted from viewing the documents."

In May 2012, the Democratic Senator Ron Wyden went against his own party to introduce Senate Bill 3225, "Congressional Oversight Over Trade Negotiations Act," which mandated congressional access to TPP documents. In introducing the bill, Wyden stated: "The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations—like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America – are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement.... We hear that the process by which TPP is being negotiated has been a model of transparency. I disagree with that statement." 

The bill was immediately referred to the committee on finance, where it died.

Continuing pressure from Congress eventually prompted the Obama administration to allow the Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson to read core documents as long as he used no recording device, took no notes and was not accompanied by a staff member. By contrast, corporation representatives can reportedly view the document with a username and password. The tech news business site TechDirt (June 24, 2013) reprinted Grayson's public statement in the wake of his perusal of documents. He stated:

"1) There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret.

2) This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.

3) What they can't afford to tell the American public is that [the rest of this sentence is classified]....

I will be fighting this agreement with everything I've got."

Meanwhile, pushback by the other nations negotiating the TPP continues. A point of particular controversy is the American proposal to restrict them from pressing for lower prices on domestic drugs. For example, both New Zealand and Australia have mechanisms by which their public health care systems can either prefer lower-priced generics or negotiate a cut rate from drug companies. The USTR wants to stop this practice; U.S. drug companies are on board... Finish reading@ thedailybell