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SECRET TRADE DEAL: Moyers Special Airs As Rangel Attacks Dem Colleagues

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This is another in a series of ongoing posts following the announcement of a secret free trade deal on May 10, 2007 between a handful of senior Democrats and the Bush administration.

On the same day PBS aired Bill Moyers hard-hitting piece on the secret free trade deal, the network also aired an interview with a frustrated Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY), who lashed out at the growing opposition to the deal from rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers and millions of workers, farmers and small businesses. Meanwhile, an industry newsletter breaks the news that at least one senior Democrat involved in the secret deal admits that Democrats have delegated responsibility for drafting the final legislative language of the deal entirely to the Bush White House. Here's today's update.

"AN ATTEMPT BY DEM LEADERSHIP TO RAISE WALL STREET MONEY": PBS's Bill Moyers nationally televised special on the secret deal aired last night, and was a scathing critique of the secrecy of the deal, the details we know about it, and the media's complicity in pushing it without ever seeing the legislative language. As Moyers said to begin the piece, reporters and pundits are cheering on the deal yet "all they know is what they've been told [because] the negotiation of this deal was secret [and] its official language has still not been made public." John MacArthur, author of The Selling of Free Trade, told Moyers in an interview that the motivation for the handful of Democratic leaders who cut the deal with the White House was cash. "This is like the NAFTA campaign of the '90s," MacArthur said. "[It is] an attempt by the Democratic leadership - in those days it was the Clintons - to raise money from Wall Street." Watch Moyers' full PBS report here, or read the transcript here.

RANGEL SAYS FAIR TRADE DEMS IN CONGRESS "ARE JUST WASTING MY TIME" AND SHOULD BE "IGNORED": Reuters reports that in an interview with PBS's Nightly Business Report, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) defended the secret deal he cut with the White House, and lashed out at those raising questions about its secrecy and its potentially unenforceable nature. Reuters notes that the deal was the result of "months of closed-door negotiations" and that "Rangel offered no apology" for such secrecy. Addressing the Democratic congressional critics of the deal, the majority of Americans polls show are opposed to lobbyist-written trade pacts, and labor, environmental, health, human rights, religious, consumer protection and agricultural groups rising questions about the deal, Rangel said the only thing he would do differently would be to "ignore a lot of people that really were just wasting my time."

BUSH WHITE HOUSE "IS DRAFTING THE LEGAL LANGUAGE": Inside U.S. Trade reports that facing growing criticism about the secrecy of the deal from rank-and-file Democrats in Congress about the deal, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) "said that little additional information could be provided until the exact legal language of the deal has been worked out" and that the Bush White House "is now drafting that legal language." In other words, Democrats in on the deal delegated the responsibility of drafting the final language to the Bush White House all while rank-and-file Democrats have not been given any potential drafts of the legislative language to review. Meanwhile, the Bush-connected head of the Chamber of Commerce has said he has received "assurances that the labor provisions cannot be read to require compliance."

SIERRA CLUB'S POPE SLAMS THE DEAL: Sierra Club President Carl Pope penned a thoughtful piece about the deal, saying the entire debate shows "just how far trade agreements had migrated from any reasonable balance." He says: "These deals have not been about free trade for some time, but about trade managed for the benefit of multinationals. As a result, trade has, its strongest advocates now concede, been bad for the American economy since 1995...What do I mean by saying these agreements are unbalanced? Well, if a signatory to a typical trade agreement violates the patent protection rights of a US drug manufacturer to provide cheaper life saving medicines for its population, the drug company can bring a legal action against it. But if the same country brings down drug prices for import into the US by using forced labor, a union can't do anything about it. If Peru revokes a logging concession granted to US timber companies, regardless of the fairness of the original agreement, the timber company can sue for damages. But if the same US timber company illegally logs Peruvian mahogany and imports it into the US, a sustainable US hardwood competitor can't file for damages -- even under the proposed, "environmentally more friendly" terms being talked about...Neither unions nor environmental groups have the rights given to businesses to make sure that worker's rights and the environment are protected; for this they would have to depend on the US government which, under its present leadership, is hardly a reliable cop on the beat." While he concedes the deal includes minor progress on a few issues, he says "we are starting from such a bad baseline -- trade deals which are neither free nor fair -- that we have a long way to go, much further than Washington has agreed to this week."