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Trade: The wrong conversation

While I have problems with the Trans Pacific Partnership, particularly in the areas of intellectual property and the ability of transnational business panels to override national law, I really feel we’re not having the right conversation on trade.

Attacking any particular multilateral trade deal not only allows proponents to label opponents as “anti-trade” and “isolationists,” it distracts us from what I think is the real conversation we ought to be having on how we write trade deals to begin with.

No one really wants to stop trade. The vast majority of people understand that we live in an interdependent world. No one country has everything it needs for modern life. But how that trade is conducted is important and how trade deals are created is even more so.

In a working economy, the legitimate interests of businesses, workers and consumers are all equally respected. In a capitalist economy you need all three groups to remain healthy or the economy collapses. As a result, in a working economy all three groups should have representation in writing economic rules.

In trade deals, this seldom happens. Whether it’s NAFTA, TPP or some other trade deal, national governments invite industry representatives to meet in secret to hammer out rules that are presented as all or nothing votes to national legislatures. As a result, these deals are usually great for business, occasionally good for consumers but almost never satisfactory for workers in any but the lowest wage countries.

In our discussions on trade, we should agree that trade is a reality, but we should insist on representation for labor groups and the non-profit sector – cultural organization institutions and consumer groups. Potential rules should be weighed for their effects on businesses, workers and consumers at large. And they should be written in public and available for continuous public comment.

This will be a longer process than letting industry write the rules in secret. But the economy belongs to all of us and a more open process will ensure greater buy in for the deals that do ultimately pass. Let’s pass that message on to our elected representatives and hold them accountable for it.

 

Working Economy: IMF – Tax Cuts No Way to Grow

In a working economy, the economy would grow and gains would be shared by labor and capital as both have a role in production.

Back in 2015 the International Monetary Fund (IMF), known mostly for its austerity driven policies looked at the effects of tax cuts for the wealthy and raising incomes at both the top and bottom levels of income. They studied 150 countries and came to the following conclusions:

The researchers calculated that when the richest 20% of society increase their income by one percentage point, the annual rate of growth shrinks by nearly 0.1% within five years.

This shows that “the benefits do not trickle down,” the researchers wrote in their report, which analyzed over 150 countries.

By contrast, when the lowest 20% of earners see their income grow by one percentage point, the rate of growth increases by nearly 0.4% over the same period.

 

Sources:

The ‘trickle down theory’ is dead wrong by Alanna Petroff (CNN Money)
June 15, 2015: 12:35 PM ET (http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/15/news/economy/trickle-down-theory-wrong-imf/)

Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality : A Global Perspective    (https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=42986.0)

 

#Imwithher – An economy that works for everyone | Hillary for America

One thing I value is a working economy – one that works for everyone. Hillary Clinton shares that value and she has some ideas about how to bring that about:

As president, Hillary has a five-point plan to meet these challenges:

A 100-days jobs plan: Break through Washington gridlock to make the boldest investment in good-paying jobs since World War II. Hillary will fight to pass a plan in her first 100 days in office to invest in infrastructure, manufacturing, research and technology, clean energy, and small businesses. She will strengthen trade enforcement, and she’ll say no to trade deals like TPP that don’t meet a high enough bar of creating good-paying jobs.

Make debt free college available to all Americans. Hillary will make college debt-free, and she’ll provide relief for Americans with existing debt by allowing them to refinance their student loans.

Rewrite the rules so that more companies share profits with employees—and fewer ship profits and jobs overseas. Hillary will reward companies that share profits and invest in their workers, and she will raise the minimum wage to a living wage. She will crack down on companies that shift profits overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes, and she’ll make companies that export jobs give back the tax breaks they’ve received in America. She will defend existing Wall Street reform and push for new measures to strengthen it.

Make certain that corporations, the wealthy, and Wall Street pay their fair share. Hillary will pay for her economic priorities and avoid adding to the national debt by ensuring the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations pay their fair share. For example, she’ll fight for the Buffett Rule, close the carried interest loophole, and impose a new surcharge on multi-millionaires and billionaires.

Enact policies that meet the challenges families face in the 21st-century economy. Hillary will make it possible for parents to succeed at work and at home by updating outdated laws so they match how families work today. She will fight for equal pay and guarantee paid leave, two changes that are long overdue. And she will provide relief from the rising costs of necessities like child care and housing, while taking steps to provide Americans with greater retirement and health care security.

via An economy that works for everyone | Hillary for America

If you’re unfamiliar with the “Buffett Rule”, it is the idea that the wealthy should never have a lower tax rate than the middle class. This makes sense to me.

It also makes a lot of sense to me to reward companies that keep jobs here and not reward them for moving them overseas. Donald Trump says he believes this, but his party does not. So I think Clinton has a better chance of making this happen – if she gets a Congress willing to work with her.

If you’ll look through the list above, you should notice that all of these things will require cooperation from Congress. There is not a single item on this list that can be done alone. She will need a Congress willing to work with her on these issues and that’s why it will be important to vote for Democrats or a third party candidate if they have a chance of winning. Some of these ideas have been brought up by President Obama but died in a Congress more willing to block him than make the economy benefit working families.

Sharing Joy Through Flowers

Share Happiness- http://wp.me/p6oY97-P7

Link goes to one concrete way gardeners can spread joy and kindness in their neighborhood.

Nonviolence Webinars in June 2016

Looking for ways to do things differently? Check out the Nonviolence Training Hub’s page of online classes and webinars. Times from their site appear to be Pacific Time, but check that against the events registration page. Due to WordPress’ stripping out links in quoted text, use the link above to access individual training pages.

Preview: Working for Transformation – June 2, 2016 – 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm
Online Orientation to Kingian Nonviolence – June 4, 2016 – 12:30 pm – 6:30 pm
“Person Power and the Roadmap to Nonviolent Action” – June 9, 2016 – 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
Nonviolence Education and Building Community: Conference Call Series – June 9, 2016 – August 4, 2016 – 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Preview: Working for Transformation without Recreating the Past – June 10, 2016 – 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm
Working for Transformation without Recreating the Past – June 17, 2016 – 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
NVC at Work: Preview – Just Enough Connection: Finding the Sweet Spot – June 20, 2016 – 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Beyond The Dream: The Radical Love of Martin Luther King, Jr. – June 22, 2016 – November 30, 2016 – 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Compassion Course Online – June 22, 2016 – June 21, 2017 – All Day
Taste of Compassion Leadership Free Teleclass – June 25, 2016 – 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

via Online Class or Webinar – The Nonviolence Training Hub

 

If you attend one of these webinars, I’d love your opinion on how things went.

 

 

Supreme Court: Open Letter to Senator Sullivan

I write to express my continued dismay at your continued rejection of considering ANY Supreme Court appointment of President Obama’s.

I have read your statement at https://www.facebook.com/1499142123704271/posts/1702865476665267 but remain unconvinced that you and your party are acting in the interest of the nation by refusing to act on the President’s nomination. You state:

The decision to withhold advancement of Mr. Garland’s nomination isn’t about the individual, it’s about the principle. Alaskans, like all Americans, are in the midst of an important national election. The next Supreme Court justice could fundamentally change the direction of the Court for years to come. Alaskans deserve to have a voice in that direction through their vote, and we will ensure that they have one.

Even if the Constitution provided a role for the general electorate in Supreme Court appointments, we Alaskans have already had three votes on the direction of the Supreme Court – As a State, we voted for Romney in 2012, but didn’t get him. In 2010 we re-elected Senator Lisa Murkowski and in 2014 we elected you to the Senate. Under the Constitution, those are all the votes Americans need for Supreme Court nominations to proceed to confirmation or failure.

While the Constitution does not provide for a popular vote on the Supreme Court, it does provide for Senate votes. If you believe that Judge Garland is wrong for the court, or that a President’s power to appoint should end in year three of their term, vote NO on Judge Garland.

I believe that your attitude not only harms the country but your own party and donor class in at least three ways:

1) Republican control of the Senate is threatened. Whether or not the majority of Alaskans support your position, voters in states with vulnerable Republican Senators favor acting on the President’s nominee. They say that your refusal to have a vote on the President’s nominee will make them less likely to vote for their Senator. Is blocking the Presidents nominee worth going to minority status?
2) If your effort to limit a President’s appointment power to the first three years of their term succeeds, you can count on the Democrats throwing your words in your face if something similar happens in the last year of a Republican President’s term. They will enforce your own views either by having a majority or through filibuster. Unless you remove the filibuster — which I heartily recommend should you retain control of the Senate in 2017.
3) Whether Trump or Clinton gets elected President, you are unlikely to get a nominee as acceptable to you as President Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland. You may dream of confirming Judge Garland in a lame duck session, but if Clinton wins, some Democrats will almost certainly filibuster him, using your own words of “Let the next President make her own nomination” against you.
As I stated in my last letter to you on this subject, when I say “take action” I do not say “confirm” even though I do support Judge Garland’s appointment. I mean that you should urge your leadership and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings followed by an up or down vote. If you don’t believe that Judge Garland should not be on the Supreme Court, vote him down and wait for the next nominee. That is a legitimate exercise of the Senate’s power of advise and consent. It’s an exercise contemplated and expected by the Founders. I can’t believe that they intended the Senate to take no action at all — though if you have documentation to the contrary please send it to me and I will read through it.

Please do your constitutional duty. Hold hearings on Judge Garland. Give him an up or down vote.

Letter to Senators: Reconsider Supreme Court Stance

I sent the following letter to both of Alaska’s Senators – Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. If you want to see the Senate act on a Supreme Court appointment, I strongly urge you to contact your Senators as well. If enough of us act, perhaps something will come of it. Nothing will happen if we do nothing.

—-

I am writing you today to urge you to reconsider your opposition, sight unseen, to any appointment made to the Supreme Court by President Obama. You have said that it would be “unprecedented” for a President to send a nominee to the Senate in an election year.

To put it bluntly yet give you the benefit of the doubt, you have have been lied to. As reported at the SCOTUS blog entry “Supreme Court vacancies in presidential election years” published on February 13, 2016, there have been several Supreme Court appointments and/or Senate confirmations in election years:

1912 – President Taft nominated Mahlon Pitney, confirmed by Senate 50-26
1916 – President Wilson nominated Louis Brandeis, confirmed by Senate 47-22
1916 – President Wilson nominated John Clarke, confirmed unaminously by Senate
1932 – President Hoover nominated Benjamin Cardozo, confirmed unaminously by Senate
1940 – President Franklin D Roosevelt nominated Frank Murphy, confirmed by Senate
1987 – President Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy after failed nominations of Bork and Douglas Ginsburg, confirmed by Senate in election year 1988 97-0.

I know that this information has been available to you for a few weeks and I am sorrowful it has not changed your mind.

While not completely without precedent, the 330 day plus wait you propose for next Supreme Court nominee is extremely rare. Given the Court’s makeup, it also seems likely we will have a set of 4-4 decisions which turn our country into a patchwork of conflicting laws. This cannot be good for the business community or the country as a whole.

I also find it surprising that your opposition is reported as unconditional – that even if President Obama appointed a Republican or someone who had previously been confirmed to a federal judgeship 98-0, you would not allow as much as a hearing. What could possibly make these justices unpalatable now? Reasons might come out in hearings, but you reportedly don’t want to hold them. So it looks like you are willing to pass up qualified judges acceptable to a Republican Senate.

But what happens if we elect a Democratic President? What happens then? Do you accept a nomination from President Sanders or President H. Clinton, even if their pick is less advantageous to you than someone President Obama proposes? Or will you continue to keep the court in deadlock 4-4 in hopes that a liberal justice will die and tilt the Court back in your favor? We deserve to know what your plans are before the next time you are up for a vote.

I should also point out that even if we elect a Republican President, there is no guarantee that his nominee will be the conservative voice you appear to desire. I remind you that Justice Kennedy, the swing vote on the court, was appointed by President Reagan. Most famously, President Nixon nominated Warren Burger to be Supreme Court Chief Justice with the expectation that he would lead the way in dismantling liberal decisions of the Warren court. This did not happen, Chief Justice Burger was even more liberal in some ways. In fact, Chief Justice Burger was in the majority in Roe v. Wade. A Republican President is no guarantee of a conservative justice.

So instead of waiting 300 plus days of uncertainty in the law of the land in hopes that the President you want will appoint the Justice you want who will act in the way you hope, I ask you act on the nomination that President Obama sends you. Urge the Judiciary Committee to hold thorough hearings and have an up or down vote.

I am NOT urging you to vote Yes or No on a nominee. That is up to you after you give full consideration to the President’s appointment. I do ask, urge and expect that you will give full consideration to a nominee and not keep the country in limbo. I further insist that if you are given a nominee you have previously voted to confirm, that you vote to confirm them again unless new information has come to light.

Respectfully, Daniel Cornwall

 

References:

Supreme Court vacancies in presidential election years  (SCOTUS Blog, 2/13/2016) – http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/02/supreme-court-vacancies-in-presidential-election-years/

Sen. Richard Blumenthal correct that the longest Supreme Court vacancy in 30 years has been 237 days (Politifact, 2/18/2016) – http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/feb/18/richard-blumenthal/sen-richard-blumenthal-correct-longest-supreme-cou/

History of the Burger Court (Washington University Law School) – http://supremecourtopinions.wustl.edu/?rt=index/history

Roe v. Wade: The Aftermath of one of the Most Controversial Supreme Court Decisions (Loyola Student Historical Journal) – http://www.loyno.edu/~history/journal/Oehlke.htm

 

 

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