Today: 2017-03-01

Richard Eskow
Trump Offers “A Nation of Miracles.” Your Move, Democrats.

Tuesday’s speech largely toed the Republican party line. Take infrastructure. On the campaign trail, Trump promised major government investment. On Tuesday, he promised a financial boon for corporations and bankers. He promised no American would go without healthcare. But the ideas Trump floated on Tuesday could have been written by the insurance executives he hosted on Monday – and probably were … He has promised not to cut Social Security or Medicare … But he pointedly refused to repeat that promise on Tuesday night.

Tone Deaf

Tone is meaningless, says Bloomberg’s Jonathan Bernstein: “Governing, the old saw says, is choosing. To the joint session of Congress, Trump made no choices at all. It was an hour plus of cotton candy. I suspect it’ll get excellent reviews; a lot of pundits who have been brutal to Trump will welcome the chance to praise him, and I suspect everyone is pleased to have the president toss aside his clown act, at least for one night. But it’s a sugar high, and there won’t be much if anything remaining of it after a few hours.”

OurFuture.org’s Isaiah J. Poole slams Trump’s racism: “[Trump] flung an amount of cynical racial exploitation and manipulation during his speech before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night that was unprecedented in recent memory … Without addressing the deep concerns communities of color have about police abuse of deadly force, Trump reprised a version of the law-and-order themes that dominated his campaign for the presidency … Even more pernicious was his use of African-American crime victims as poster images for his efforts to deport millions of black and brown immigrants who are living peaceably in our communities.”

Details, Details

Few immigration details. HuffPost: “Hours before his speech to a joint session of Congress, the president reportedly told news anchors he was open to a legal status for some undocumented immigrants … Trump’s speech, however, gave no such indication, even though it mentioned immigration reform … The president only addressed one aspect of immigration legislation: the need to reform legal immigration to a ‘merit-based immigration system.’ … He discussed immigrants almost exclusively in the context of crime, terrorism and lowering Americans’ wages.”

Few health care details. HuffPost: “…outside of some general platitudes that Trump has long endorsed, the president offered no new guidelines for a replacement to former President Barack Obama’s 2010 law … for the lawmakers actually familiar with the complexity of ‘replacing’ the Affordable Care Act, it was revealing that the president put the onus on Congress to resolve this issue. Compare that vague, lead-from-behind approach to Trump’s section on a tax overhaul, where he said, ‘My economic team is developing historic tax reform.’”

Few tax details. Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump offered no new details of his plan to overhaul corporate and individual taxes — renewing questions about whether he supports a controversial proposal to tax U.S. companies’ imports while excluding their exports … Trump’s tax plans for individuals also remain to be clarified…”

“Donald Trump Goes All In for the Military-Industrial Complex” writes The Nation’s John Nichols: “…the president imagined that the United States could cut taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations, rip tens of billions of dollars out of domestic programs (and diplomacy), hand that money over to the military-industrial complex, and somehow remain a functional and genuinely strong nation.”

Former Gov. Steve Beshear slams Trump in Democratic response. Politico: “[He delivered] a direct shot at Trump’s support among working-class Americans, many of whom have benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion … ‘So far, every Republican idea to “replace” the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of Americans covered, despite promises to the contrary,’ he said. ‘Mr. President, folks here in Kentucky expect you to keep your word. Because this isn’t a game — it’s life and death for people.’”

Back to (Not) Governing

“Republicans near make-or-break moment on Obamacare repeal” reports Politico: “… Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called a special all-members caucus meeting Wednesday to try and get his rowdy caucus in line … GOP leaders are facing pressure from both moderates and conservatives as they try to craft a bill … [They] are coming to grips with the growing possibility they’ll have to just put a repeal bill on the floor — and dare GOP lawmakers to vote no.”

Trump delays new travel ban. CNN: “Signing the executive order Wednesday, as originally indicated by the White House, would have undercut the favorable coverage [from Trump’s address to Congress … ‘We want the (executive order) to have its own “moment,”‘ [a senior administration] official said.”

Trump’s trade representative on slow track to Senate confirmation. Canadian Press: “…Robert Lighthizer’s approval as U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) could be delayed for months, amid partisan stalling and because past legal work for foreign governments means he needs a special waiver from Congress … Does that mean [NAFTA] talks might be held up for months? [Rep. Chris] Collins replied: ‘Yup.’”

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Remember the Keystone XL pipeline? We’re ALL being sued!

confused_lIt would have brought a million barrels of toxic tar-sands sludge oil across the length of our nation, through wetlands and communities. President Obama wisely rejected it.

Only now you and other American taxpayers may have to pay for that common-sense decision.

TransCanada is demanding that American taxpayers pay them $15 billion in compensation. They’re using the “investor-state dispute system” that’s in NAFTA – just like the one in the Trans-Pacific Partnership

It allows corporate polluters to attack our environmental and safety laws in private courts stacked in their favor. These companies think protecting clean air and water is a trade barrier. If TPP passes, they will be able to sue any time we manage to pass not just environmental legislation, but anything they believe might hurt their bottom lines. And we’ll be on the hook when they win in their sham corporate-biased dispute system established by the TPP.

TPP—A Means of Surrendering Our National Sovereignty

The details are out on the the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and critics say the trade deal is worse than they feared. The TPP’s full text was released Thursday, weeks after the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations—a group representing 40 percent of the world’s economy—reached an agreement. Activists around the world have opposed the TPP, warning it will benefit corporations at the expense of health, the environment, free speech and labor rights. Congress now has 90 days to review the TPP before President Obama can ask for an up-or-down vote.  Take the time to learn more about this treaty and then weigh in with your representation in the Congress (both Houses) as to your thoughts.  You can find a PDF version of the actual text of the various chapters here, and a slightly more Internet-friendly glossed over-version of what proponents of the TPP want you to know on Medium.

More video:

After Years of Backroom Secrecy, Public Will Finally Get to See Full TPP Text

Legislative clock starts ticking as Obama administration prepares to release text of pro-corporate trade deal

— by Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams staff writer

Protesters have long decried the lack of transparency around TPP negotiations. (Photo: SumofUs/flickr/cc)

After being shrouded in secrecy for years, the full contents of the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will soon be brought into the sunlight.

According to Kevin Collier at Daily Dot, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has said the text will be made available to the public at large in approximately 30 days—on or around November 7.

“[We] look forward to having it released as soon as possible,” Froman said in a press call Wednesday that was embargoed until Thursday morning. “We’re shooting to do it within the 30 days following the completion of the negotiations.”

Under the terms of the Fast Track legislation passed earlier this year, lawmakers will not be able to amend or filibuster the pro-corporate “trade” deal that was completed this week.

President Barack Obama must wait at least 90 days after formally notifying Congress of the deal before he can sign it and send it to Capitol Hill, and the full text of the agreement must be made public for at least 60 of those days. Congress gets to spend the first 30 days of that time privately reviewing the documents and consulting with the administration.

As Kelsey Snell wrote for the Washington Post, that 60-day public comment window “will provide critical insight into how much popular support the deal may receive. A poor reception during the public phase could make it difficult for Obama to rally support when it comes time for Congress to vote.”

Snell continued:

The next step will be for the U.S. International Trade Commission to conduct a full economic review of the deal. The agency has up to 105 days to complete that work but the process could take much less time.

Once the implementing bill is introduced in the House and the Senate, Congress has a maximum of 90 days to approve or disapprove the trade deal but can move much more quickly.

However, Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach has pointed out (pdf) that 2016 election politics may imperil the deal. “The intense national battle over trade authority was just a preview of the massive opposition the TPP will face given that Democratic and GOP members of Congress and the public soon will be able to see the specific TPP terms that threaten their interests,” she said (pdf) on Monday.


This work from “Common Dreams” is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License