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So-Called “Free Trade” Deals Have Decimated the US Economy

NAFTA and CAFTA have decimated the US economy, so why are lawmakers in Washington getting ready to sign on to yet another “free trade” deal?

Protest against the proposed TPP trade agreement and NAFTA, January 31, 2014, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Protest against the proposed TPP trade agreement and NAFTA, January 31, 2014, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo<a href= via Shutterstock)” width=”637″ height=”422″ />Protest against the proposed TPP trade agreement and NAFTA, January 31, 2014, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Ross Perot is still right.

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Ross Perot arguably played the role of spoiler. But he also played the role of realist.

Throughout that campaign, Perot made it a point to highlight just how harmful so-called “free trade” agreements were for the United States.

At one debate during the 1992 presidential campaign, Perot said that,

“To those of you in the audience who are business people: pretty simple. If you’re paying $12, $13, $14 an hour for a factory worker, and you can move your factory south of the border, pay $1 an hour for labor, hire a young — let’s assume you’ve been in business for a long time. You’ve got a mature workforce. Pay $1 an hour for your labor, have no health care — that’s the most expensive single element in making the car. Have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement. And you don’t care about anything but making money. There will be a job-sucking sound going south.”

Nearly 23 years later, Ross Perot’s words still ring true.

All across the US, abandoned factories, which were once part of the United States’ economic engine, are crumbling to the ground.

So-called “free trade” deals like NAFTA and CAFTA have decimated the US economy, screwed over working-class Americans, and shipped millions and millions of good-paying jobs overseas.

Now, lawmakers in Washington are getting ready to sign on to yet another so-called “free trade” deal: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I prefer to call it the Southern Hemisphere Asian Free Trade Agreement – or SHAFTA.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

Fortunately, not all lawmakers are on-board with the latest ploy to give corporations and the wealthy elite even more power.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has asked the United States’ top trade representative, Michael Froman, to release the full text of the TPP.

Sanders is asking for the release because the TPP has been written largely in secret, and even members of Congress have been kept in the dark about the agreement and its text.

In a letter sent to Froman, Sanders writes, “It is incomprehensible to me that the leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP while, at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge as to what is in it.”

Sanders goes on to say that, “Members of Congress must have the opportunity to read what is in the TPP and closely analyze the potential impact this free trade agreement would have on the American people long before the Senate votes to give the President fast track trade promotion authority.”

Finally, Sanders ask Froman to, “explain why you think it is appropriate that the representatives of the largest financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, media conglomerates, and other major corporate interests not only have access to some of these documents, but are also playing a major role in developing many of the key provisions in it.”

While the TPP has been negotiated on and written in secret, many of its key details have been leaked, and those leaks paint a very disturbing picture about the effects that the TPP would have on the US public and economy.

For example, according to Public Citizen, the TPP would give foreign corporations the power to go after any laws and regulations in the US that they don’t like, and would allow them to seek taxpayer compensation for expected but lost future profits that are hurt by US regulations.

Public Citizen says the TPP would also expand the monopoly powers that pharmaceutical companies have on drugs, while restricting access to potentially life-saving drugs for millions and millions of people across the globe.

Next, they point out, the TPP would require the US to import foods, like meat and poultry, that don’t meet our own safety standards. In other words, the TPP could get a lot of Americans very sick.

Finally, the TPP would reward corporations for shipping US jobs overseas.

Think about that for a second.

Corporations would be rewarded for leaving millions and millions of Americans without jobs.

That’s insane!

No matter how you look at it, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is NAFTA and CAFTA on steroids. It’s truly deserving of the name SHAFTA.

It represents a serious threat to our economy, our health and to our overall freedoms.

It’s a bad deal for working-class Americans and it’s a bad deal for our country.

Call your members of Congress, and tell them that it’s time for the US to kick its addiction to job-destroying, economy-crushing, so-called “free trade” deals once and for all. Don’t just end the SHAFTA of TPP, let’s roll them all back.

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