Newsflash:
Issues Economic and Social Justice Stop TPP Fast Track Economic and Social Justice The Progressive Movement Continues to Mature and Grow
Friday, 28 February 2014 02:55

The Progressive Movement Continues to Mature and Grow

Written by  Pearl Korn | The Huffington Post

In case you hadn't noticed, the debt ceiling was raised several days ago, so quietly that it barely made a ripple in the press. No threats of shutting down the government or hostage-taking emanated from Senator Mitch McConnell -- or from his even more radical right-wing cronies in the House -- this recent go around.

Instead we had a total capitulation by the Republicans, and as the midterm elections move ever closer we should expect to see McConnell and the brand-challenged GOP continue to pick and choose their battles more carefully. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, should follow the lead of the growing and maturing Progressive movement in this country and go all-out on offense to hold the GOP's feet to the fire and press them to explain their agenda and just how they plan to move America forward. Unfortunately, it is more likely that the Dems will tone it down a bit this year, too, likely waiting to deal with critical issues until after the election. Whatever happened to immigration reform? Or background checks on gun purchases? Americans For Responsible Solutions-- the organization run by Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly - just reported taking in more money in donations than any PAC in this latest period. The public is clearly in favor of action from Congress on this issue -- we just need someone in D.C. to grow a spine and move forward with a reasonable and responsible proposal before more lives are lost.

The modern progressive movement is starting to see the fruits of its labors pay off in other ways, too:

  • There had been great concern that the president would target Social Security for cuts again in the upcoming budget for 2015, but just the other day it was reported that Mr. Obama will propose a budget that drops reductions he had previously embraced to those so-called "entitlement" programs, including Social Security. Officials also disclosed on Thursday that the president will ask Congress to approve another $56 billion in spending for new or expanded programs. It is very good news, indeed, the President is dust-binning his previous insistence on cutting cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other benefits in the next budget. The national debate has arguably been leaning more toward raising Social Security benefits than cutting them, as they currently do not keep up with inflation, and the majority of recipients spend a third of their benefits on health care, according to Social Security Works. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have also been raising the volume on this issue, with enormous public support. Bernie was one of 16 senators to send a letter to the White House asking the president to "spare" Social Security, which accompanied a similar letter from 117 House Democrats -- over half of the caucus -- asking the president to "...rule out using the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) to calculate cost-of-living and inflation adjustments for federal programs..." in the 2015 budget. It is refreshing to see that the president is finally listening to his own party -- and the People -- on these critical issues.
  • Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell is in the battle of his political career to win his re-election fight against a formidable Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has raked in $5 million from 30,000 supporters since she started her campaign. This race is of great national interest, and the candidates continue to run neck-and-neck in the polls. Taking down Senator "Gridlock" would be a major achievement for the Democratic Party and Progressives in general, and would no doubt shake the GOP to its very core. The people of Kentucky would finally have a new leader working for them - instead of special interests -- and the nation would also benefit from the removal of this obstructionist from the powerful position he holds in the US Senate.
  • At a recent three-day Democratic retreat in Maryland, Vice President Biden announced that efforts to "fast track" the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership ("TPP") would be put on hold until after the election. This news prompted jubilation from the growing camp of unions and organizations that have been working so hard for so long to build the movement to stop the TPP and make the public aware of this critical issue. Public Citizen in particular has been tireless and extremely effective in their efforts to get the word out on this bum deal. Stopping fast track of the TPP - which would have given the president authority to bypass Congress and its role to amend and debate the contents of the agreement -- is an absolute must. A gutsy Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) wrote a letter with Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to the president opposing the fast tack bill that had been co-authored by Dave Camp and former Montana Senator Max Baucus, and which to date had garnered little support in Congress. On the other hand, the De Lauro/Miller letter had 151 House Democrats sign on after an incredible grassroots campaign of individuals and organizations calling and meeting with members of Congress, urging them to sign the letter. Days before Biden's announcement, both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi also said they did not support fast track. This huge push from Progressives, along with a flurry of recent press pieces on the negative aspects of the TPP, helped the Democratic leadership in Congress stand up to the president and say "no" -- at least for now -- to this terrible deal that has been negotiated for three years behind closed doors by 600 lobbyists and special interests, with Congress, the public and the press kept totally in the dark about what is in the agreement. Even so, it's not too hard to figure out who the winners and losers would be. Do we really need to lose more jobs and create more trade deficits? Have we learned nothing in the twenty years since the passage of NAFTA?
  • Another sign of progress over the past several months has been on the issue of so-called "non-profits" that have been exempt from paying taxes as they operate under the guise of doing "social welfare work." In truth, they do little more than funnel unlimited and unidentified sums of money into elections to unfairly affect their outcomes. Clearly our government has been corrupted and bought off with legal bribery -- or slander, depending on whether these shadowy groups are working for you or against you -- under the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision. This disastrous ruling has left our democracy on the brink and has helped create a government that no longer serves the American people, but only the highest bidder. So it was with great interest that I read an email I received a week ago from the ever-vigilant Public Citizen that asked me to click on a link to a page on the website regulations.gov, which is asking for comments from the public on tax exempt organizations and their related political activities. The IRS is currently just seeking a guidance rule on those activities, but they must take stronger steps, shutting these organizations down and fining them for hiding their blatantly political and partisan activities under the guise of "social welfare." The only question is, can further steps be taken legally under our current system?
  • More good news came with the introduction of The Government By The People Act, which garnered 400,000 petitions from citizen sponsors, along with support from 133 members of congress and 45 Progressive, labor and good government groups representing 50 million supporters, according to Public Campaign. The bill would counter some of the effects of Citizens United by creating a system of public funding of campaigns, with small donations by the public being matched by public funds 6 to 1, much like what New York City has done successfully for years. Individual donations would be capped at $150, which with the additional public funds would amount to $1,050 - still a tidy sum for any candidate. This bill was crafted with the input of Progressive organizations over a period of a few months, with the PCCC and Democracy For America having a major hand in the process. Passage of this bill would also encourage new, young citizens to run for office for the first time - our politics desperately needs such an infusion of new ideas and energy. In New York City last month we saw Progressives sweep into office with the landslide election of Mayor Bill DeBlasio and a new City Council. The mayor spoke passionately of New York City devolving into "A Tale of Two Cities," and his words serve to remind us that we are also living through a "Tale of Two Americas" in need of serious remedies and leaders to implement them. There is little doubt that the Government By The People Act would help to restore our democracy and take it out of the hands of the privileged few. It is worth recalling that in 2012 Wall Street alone spent over $200 million to influence elections, according to an email I received from Public Citizen. We can expect much more money to flow in from various corners of the special interest spectrum to influence elections in 2014, unless we demand our representatives in Congress do something now to stop it. Another bill, the Udall-McGovern sponsored Fair Elections Now Act, would restore authority to Congress and the states to limit campaign gifts and spending, so there is activity -- at least in certain quarters of DC -- to address campaign finance reform. These bills must be passed so that Citizens United can be neutralized.
  • Still fresh in my memory is the recent New Hampshire Rebellion Walk, led by Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Harvard and co-founder with Joe Trippi of the non-profit Change Congress. The march started with a small band of followers that picked up increasing numbers as they crossed the state on foot, trekking 185 miles through snow and sleet across New Hampshire in January to hammer home the need for campaign finance reform. They have one simple but pointed question for the presidential candidates that will come to that tiny first primary state in 2016: "How are YOU going to end the system of corruption in Washington?" This message should also be delivered to our members of Congress when they come home to their districts. Freeing our government from the corrupting influence of money must become the overarching issue in this election. It is clear that if we are ever to see the critical issues affecting our country finally dealt with in a constructive manner, we must clean up our government, go to public funding of campaigns and elect more Progressive voices to Congress. All the more reason for an amendment that will overturn Citizens United to be passed.
  • The extraordinary bravery of minimum wage-earning fast food workers taking to the streets across the country to demand a decent living wage is another sign that the times are indeed changing, although Congress clearly needs more prodding on this one. In less than two years these workers have built a significant movement that has been joined by many others who are paid the minimum wage. Some have been fired for striking, while others have put themselves in jeopardy trying to unionize their workplaces. In response to these courageous acts by the least powerful among us, Congress must get its act together and raise the minimum wage this year. It is the right thing to do.
  • This Thursday there will be 700 community watch parties of Robert Reich's film Inequality For All in 48 states, organized by DFA and its members. Following the film that evening, Robert Reich will be joined on a national phone call by Elizabeth Warren to discuss building the movement against economic inequality. Last Wednesday, Bernie Sanders also reached out to DFA members to join him in the "...fight to address growing income and wealth inequality and rebuild the collapsing middle class." 56,665 Americans heard his call and signed his petition to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
  • And let us also not forget Russ Feingold's Progressives United, which just celebrated its third anniversary by announcing that during those first three years it generated 2.4 million petition signatures and phone calls to elected officials and raised $1.4 million for strong Progressive candidates. Russ has helped to jump-start the movement to take back our democracy, and deserves a healthy round of applause for his efforts.

These stories are just a few examples that help to illustrate the incredible growth in citizen activism occurring in this country on a daily basis. They also remind one of the populist movements of the late 19th century, when the wheat farmers in the west and cotton farmers in the south were financially squeezed every inch of the way by special, monied interests as they fought to bring their products to market across the country. It was, after all, the age of the Robber Barons and the so-called "Gilded Age," when corporatists used price controls and other financial trickery to force farmers into debt and lose their farms to banks and land speculators owned and employed by many of those same corporate interests - an endless cycle of economic violence against hard-working Americans perpetrated by that era's version of the 1%. In response, the farmers united to form the Farmers' Alliance and other cooperatives. Some even ran for and were elected to public office. From their humble backgrounds they built a movement of about 200,000 that lasted some 20 years. There was even a Populist Party offshoot of this movement, which was eventually co-opted and absorbed into the Democratic Party.

Of course, there is much more we can learn from this period and the creation of populism in America -- which simply means the People taking on the elites. That is what all of these examples illustrate -- when united in large numbers, victory is almost always on the side of the People. In our time, it is the vast majority of Americans fighting against a tiny group of very rich, greedy and self-absorbed individuals who have bought out our government to do their bidding and make them even richer, which has only served to produce a government that no longer functions.

To fight back against this subversion of our democracy, we are seeing a very sophisticated and expanding Progressive grassroots movement emerge that can generate hundreds of thousands of petitions on an issue; engage in phonebank campaigns to voters and members of Congress and the White House; meet with Congress members in their DC offices and their own districts; and conduct letter drops to Congressional offices on critical issues, something which PDA has mastered. This is all part of a successful inside-outside strategy that the Progressive movement is using to great effect.

PDA has also crafted a brilliant strategy in its Educate Congress Campaign, reaching out to members of Congress in both parties on a monthly basis and delivering letters on issues that matter to the country. This month, their largest effort will deliver 300 letters to specific Congress members by hand, informing them on specific issues like the TPP, the American Health Security Act, the Humphrey-Hawkins jobs bill, and the Voter Empowerment Act. These letters are then followed up by the PDA phone team of 500 volunteers making calls to those members of Congress to discuss the contents of the letters. Then a third wave of volunteers heads to the Hill for further dialogue on the issues with the Congress members and their staffs. These monthly efforts have helped to create relationships and an ongoing dialogue between these activists and members of Congress, and helps show that PDA will have their backs when needed if they act on these issues, and will also hold their feet to the fire if they don't. This very effective campaign is just one of the strategic programs crafted by PDA's inspired and visionary leader, Tim Carpenter.

So whether this movement is called "populist" or "Progressive" or plain old "liberal," what matters is that it is starting to see success in its efforts to ensure that the well-being of the People becomes our leaders' first and foremost priority again, and not that of the handful of self-indulgent corporatists who are seeking to run this country through their checkbooks. Will all of this great and exciting activism continue to grow in influence to match that currently held by the monied few? We have until 2016 to nurture it and find out. So jump in, folks. The water's fine.

Link to original article from The Huffingon Post

Read 5246 times Last modified on Friday, 28 February 2014 03:08

Trans Pacific Partnership Fast Track - Where Does Your Legislator Stand

Click your state to see your Senators and Representatives

Green = Most Legislators Oppose Fast Track, Yellow = Some Opposition, Orange = Oppose TPP, Gray = Unknown
DeLauro 13 - Signed 2013 DeLauro/Miller letter
Pocan - Signed Freshman Letter Opposing Fast Track
W/M - Signed Ways and Means Letter opposing TPP
Gibson - Signed Rep. Chris Gibson letter opposing TPP
SOPA - Oppose Stop Online Piracy Act - voted against
Currency - Oppose Currency Manipulation (Signed Michaud Letter)
Textile - Oppose changes to "First Yarn" (Signed Textile Industry Letter)

TPP and Trade Articles

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    Negotiators fail to close deal amid revelations of internal discord over US corporate bullying. The Obama administration's pro-corporate Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agenda appears to have missed a deadline.

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    Developing countries including India win concessions but critics say World Trade Organisation is no forum for helping the poor. The first global trade deal since the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) nearly two decades ago was condemned by anti-poverty groups on Friday as a boost for big business at the expense of developing nations.

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  • New Trans-Pacific Partnership Caucus In US Congress
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  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty is the Complete Opposite of 'Free Trade'
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  • Trade talks open in Utah, but secrecy spurs protests
    Trade talks open in Utah, but secrecy spurs protests

    Outside Salt Lake City’s Grand America Hotel on Tuesday, the rains fell, the speakers rose, the marchers chanted.

    Inside, top trade negotiators from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations perhaps discussed imports and exports, profits and products, prices and patents. The exact topics aren’t known. The talks were closed.

    Written on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 00:31 Read more...
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    TPP Disclosure Shows It Will Kill People and Internet; House Opposition Is Widespread

    We wrote yesterday that this deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, already looked to be in trouble given both Congressional and foreign opposition. The Administration has conducted the talks with an unheard-of degree of secrecy, with Congressional staffers in most cases denied access to the text and even Congressmen themselves facing unheard-of obstacles (Alan Grayson reported that the US Trade Representative created an absurd six weeks of dubious delays in his case).

    Written on Saturday, 16 November 2013 02:02 Read more...
  • New Trans Pacific trade partnership stirs worries
    New Trans Pacific trade partnership stirs worries

    The New York Times reported serious worry in the U.S. Congress about the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP for short), a massive new free trade deal being pushed by the United States with the involvement of 11 other countries on both sides of the Pacific. About 170 Congresspersons have signed on to one or more of three letters which oppose fast track status forthe deal.

    Written on Friday, 15 November 2013 16:16 Read more...
  • Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)
    Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The WikiLeaks release of the text comes ahead of the decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013. 

    Written on Friday, 15 November 2013 01:26 Read more...
  • Some 194 Members of Congress Publicly Express Trans Pacific Partnership Concerns to the President
    Some 194 Members of Congress Publicly Express Trans Pacific Partnership Concerns to the President

    Today, 151 Democratic members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama laying out their concerns about the lack of consultation during the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and their opposition to “fast tracking” the deal without any meaningful congressional input. House Democrats joined the growing chorus of some 194 members of Congress who have publicly expressed their frustrations with this massive trade agreement.

    Written on Thursday, 14 November 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • Letters: More scrutiny of the TPP trade pact
    Letters: More scrutiny of the TPP trade pact The TPP also would extend trade preferences to such countries as Vietnam instead of holding them accountable for their deplorable human rights and worker records.  And the TPP would enable polluting corporations to challenge clean air and water policies if they interfered with expected profits.

    Written on Friday, 01 November 2013 15:15 Read more...
  • Trade Issues Remain Low-Profile in Congress
    Trade Issues Remain Low-Profile in Congress

    To hear lawmakers tell it, efforts to move trade legislation through the House Ways and Means Committee, while earnest and ongoing, have hit snags in the 113th Congress.

    Several big pieces of legislation are slowly winding their way through the committee, including bills dealing with trade-promotion authority and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    Written on Thursday, 24 October 2013 15:45 Read more...
  • Trading You In
    Trading You In

    Ten score and thirteen years ago corporate forefathers began conquering wilderness, steam, gas, oil, electricity, transcontinental rails and airways communication, prospering by quenching America’s thirst for more, better, faster.  Now we who built it, want more, faster, so thinking locally, we trade globally.  Thus unlike you, we will always have money to eat.

    Written on Monday, 21 October 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • Will Obama Fast-Track the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
    Will Obama Fast-Track the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

    President Barack Obama has demanding a ‘trade promotion authority’ from the United States Congress to fast-track the Pacific Rim treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.[1]

    The fast-track authority plays a pivotal role in determining the extent to which the United States Congress can engage in a critical review of trade agreements.[2]

    Written on Thursday, 17 October 2013 20:25 Read more...
  • There's an International Plan to Censor the Internet in the Works -- Let's Stop It in Its Tracks
    There's an International Plan to Censor the Internet in the Works -- Let's Stop It in Its Tracks

    How the Trans Pacific Partnership making its way through Washington seriously undermines citizens’ rights to participate in a free and open Internet. One month. That’s the time left before the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could become a finalized agreement.

    Written on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 00:05 Read more...
  • A Corporate Coup in Disguise
    A Corporate Coup in Disguise

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership would create a virtually permanent corporate rule over the people. What if our national leaders told us that communities across America had to eliminate such local programs as Buy Local, Buy American, Buy Green, etc. to allow foreign corporations to have the right to make the sale on any products purchased with our tax dollars?

    Written on Thursday, 03 October 2013 03:17 Read more...
  • 'Flush the TPP!': Protesters Scale Trade Building in Protest of Secretive Deal
    'Flush the TPP!': Protesters Scale Trade Building in Protest of Secretive Deal

    Protesters scaled the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Monday and dropped banners calling for greater transparency and an end to "corporatocracy" over the ongoing and secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement currently in the works between the United States and several Pacific nations.

    Written on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 03:31 Read more...
  • Secretive Free Trade Agreement Puts Climate, Public Health at Risk
    Secretive Free Trade Agreement Puts Climate, Public Health at Risk

    New warnings on TPP, free trade 'regime' fostering 'global emergency situation'

    As secretive talks over the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)—the pending free trade agreement slammed as "NAFTA on steroids" and "a quiet coup for the investor class"—continue, new warnings highlight the corporate winners and global losers at stake.

    Written on Monday, 16 September 2013 02:45 Read more...
  • Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership Fast Track
    Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership Fast Track

    President Obama has asked Congress to provide “Fast Track” authorization for consideration of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) a new “free trade” deal.

    The negotiations for this new “free trade” agreement have been conducted in secret. Members of Congress as well as the public have no factual information about the contents of this deal.

    Written on Sunday, 15 September 2013 17:36 Read more...
  • TPP Talking Points

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed agreement between the U.S. and 12 nations that do business throughout the Pacific Rim. TPP and its European cousin the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (aka TAFTA), are "free trade" agreements that do much more than the term implies.

    Written on Monday, 02 September 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • Obama's secret trade deal threatens prescription drug prices on global scale
    Obama's secret trade deal threatens prescription drug prices on global scale

    The US pharmaceutical industry has been shaping elements of the Obama administration’s secret Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement to favor their own profits. But the deal could also could cause the price of prescription drugs and some medical devices to soar on a global scale.

    Written on Saturday, 27 July 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • Pocan Calls for Increased Transparency on Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement to Protect American Jobs
    Pocan Calls for Increased Transparency on Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement to Protect American Jobs

    Pocan urges Congress not to give up its constitutional authority to oversee foreign trade agreements

    Written on Friday, 14 June 2013 00:00 Read more...
  • Alan Grayson On Trans-Pacific Partnership: Obama Secrecy Hides 'Assault On Democratic Government'
    Alan Grayson On Trans-Pacific Partnership: Obama Secrecy Hides 'Assault On Democratic Government'

    Progressive Democrats in Congress are ramping up pressure on the Obama administration to release the text of Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive free trade agreement with 10 other nations, amid intensifying controversy over the administration's transparency record and its treatment of classified information.

    Written on Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00 Read more...

Join "Countdown to Coverage" Share TPP with your Daily Newspaper

CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!

Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries.

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Step 1 is to send an Op-Ed to your Daily Newspaper.

Join our Twitter Storm

If you have a Twitter account you can help stop Fast Track on the TPP. Sign-in to your Twitter account and copy and paste the Tweets from our Twitter storm. Or you can copy your favorite Tweet and then click on the map and Tweet your legislator.

Twitter Storm Tweets for Tuesday, January 28th @ 9pm Eastern

Tweets for the special State of the Union Twitter Storm will be posted on January 28th at 8pm EST. Check back for the new Tweets.

Find Your Member of Congress

Click here to quickly find your member of Congress by putting in your home address. This site also features a one-click link to the same information in Spanish

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Then call and ask them to oppose Fast Track on the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Sample script is below.

Script

“I'm a constituent, and I am strongly opposed to my representative giving away Congress’ constitutional authority to control our trade policy. We send people to Congress to stand up for us, not give away their power to stop more American job offshoring and protect us from dangerous imported food that doesn’t meet our safety standards. This latest so-called trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), would not only do that - but also ban Buy American and increase our medicine prices. That’s why it’s crucial that Congress not give away its authority to make sure every provision of TPP is in our interest before this massive deal can be signed. Good trade deals don’t need to be railroaded through Congress using Fast Track. I hope my representative will commit to opposing this outrageous legislation.”

Email Your Senators and Rep - Say No On Fast Track and TPP

Send an email directly to your Senators and Representatives courtesy of our partners at CWA. Enter your zip code and your members are automatically selected.

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Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

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Report on your TPP Contact

Please let us know your legislator's stance on Fast Track Authorization for the Trans Pacific Partnership as well as their stance on the TPP in General. Click here to report the response.

The Trans Pacific Partnership: Corporate Global Domination

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

Lori Wallach Leaked TPP Documents (Democracy NOW)

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of

Lori Wallach on Thom Hartmann (Great Minds) - The TPP

Flush the TPP

Congress only has one more week in session this year, the week of December 9. So far our pressure to stop the TPP has been working. Visit Flush the TPP for calling scripts and links to Members of the Ways and Means Committee.

Flush the TPP

TPP Downloads

The following documents are available from the Oppose TPP Downloads Folder

June 29th TPP Powerpoint

CWA TPP Jobs Report