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.
I am scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the Montana AFL-CIO Convention tonight in Butte, and I will be discussing the secret trade deal in some depth there. This is a topic of particular importance to Montana because Montana Senator Max Baucus is the Chairman of the Finance Committee - the panel that will decide whether this deal becomes law or not. The speech will be available on The Nation magazine's website early next week. Unfortunately, the event means I will miss Bill Moyers' PBS special tonight on the secret trade deal and the media's complicity in pushing it. Here's today's full update.
MOYERS TO EXPLORE MEDIA COMPLICITY IN PUSHING SECRET TRADE DEAL: Following his groundbreaking documentary on the Washington press corps' complicity in pushing the country to war, PBS"s Bill Moyers will be airing a piece tonight that explores the media's similar behavior with respect to the secret trade deal announced last week. Moyers will interview John R. MacArthur, the author of the book The Selling of Free Trade, which explored how NAFTA was passed by a handful of Washington elite operatives, politicians and reporters over the opposition of most Americans. Says MacArthur in a preview of the special on PBS's website: "Take a look at who embraced [the secret deal]: the media, the pundits, the elites - the heads of banks and of investment banks, and the leadership of the two parties. That's not the people." Check your local listings to find out when this piece is airing in your area.
POST GAZETTE - SENATORS TAKE STAND AGAINST THE SECRET DEAL: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that "Sen. Bob Casey yesterday joined a group of fellow senators in calling for Congress to obtain the power to terminate all future free-trade agreements that don't meet benchmarks for creating American jobs, improving U.S. wages and opening foreign markets to American products." Casey "said promises of better standards aren't enough." He said: "I'd like to believe the president and this administration when they say at long last, 'We're really going to do the job this time. We're really going to enforce the law. But they have a terrible track record of enforcement. So any agreement that's hammered out in this building with the administration has to be one with very tough enforcement."
BRODER'S TRADE LIES EXPOSED BY WATCHDOG GROUP: Media Matters for America, a nonpartisan media watchdog group, issued a report debunking Washington Post columnist David Broder's article this week praising the secret trade deal, whose legislative language he hasn't even seen. Broder subtly attempts to regurgitate the oft-used lie that says if Congress doesn't approve presidential fast-track authority, the American economy will tank. Specifically, he claims that passing fast track would give President Bush "the same free hand that his predecessors have enjoyed in negotiating global and regional trade agreements," thus helping the economy. Yet, as Media Matters notes, Bush's "predecessors" have not always enjoyed trade promotion or "fast track" authority. From 1994 to 2002 President Clinton was denied fast track authority, and yet that was precisely the time that America experienced a much-vaunted economic boom.
THE NATION - "DEMS SELL OUT ON TRADE": In a scathing editorial, The Nation magazine tears apart the handful of senior Democrats who negotiated the trade deal with the Bush administration in secret. "When Democratic and Republican leaders announce they have fashioned a 'historic' bipartisan compromise on trade, put your hand over your wallet," the editors write. "It probably means somebody has been sold out. In this case, we think it's the broad coalition of citizens--labor and environmental advocates and others--who want to reform corporate-led globalization. That includes all those voters who, last fall, elected new Democrats who promised to confront the multinational establishment." The editorial goes on to look at different pieces of the deal and urges populist Democrats in Congress "to push back--hard--and defeat the agreement if they can."
NEW YORKER - WHY DO PATENTS GET MORE PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE?: The New Yorker's James Surowiecki has a new piece noting that a new Harvard Business School study shows that the draconian patent and copyright protections the U.S. government puts in trade deals not only punishes the developing world, but often adds little value in terms of incentivizing creativity. Meanwhile, the motivation for such protections includes an inherent double standard when it comes to other protections. "The approach the U.S. takes when it comes to labor standards [is one that] argues that we shouldn't impose developed-country standards on developing countries," Surowiecki writes. "But in the case of intellectual property the government's position is exactly the opposite. The only difference, it seems, is whose interests are at stake."