House Votes To Change Law Due To Trade Agreement, While Insisting That Trade Agreements Don't Change Laws

from the do-they-even-understand dept

Two weeks ago, the House Agriculture Committee voted 38-6 to repeal country-of-origin-labeling. (COOL), and now it’s the full House’s turn. In a 300-131 vote yesterday the “country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act” (HR 2393) passed with the support of a significant number of Democrats as well as the majority of Republicans.

The bill’s prompting and passage came after the World Trade Organisation ruled in favor of Canadian farmers, who sued claiming it was “discriminatory” and thus in violation of Free Trade Agreements. The problem? Cattle bought from abroad would have to be segregated from domestic cattle, increasing costs and making imports less desirable.

With Fast Track coming up for a vote — perhaps even today — it’s curious to see this snippet in the Associated Press report on the vote by the Speaker of the House:

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after the vote that the last thing American farmers need “is for Congress to sit idly by as international bureaucrats seek to punish them through retaliatory trade policies that could devastate agriculture as well as other industries.”

That is, of course, the same John Boehner that has been encouraging the President to get more support for Fast Track, in order to pass more of these “Free Trade” deals that impose more international bureaucrats and will almost certainly lead to more disputes that “require” Congress to “not sit idly by.”

Meanwhile, remember what President Obama said at the Nike Plant just a few weeks ago:

[TPP] critics warn that parts of this deal would undermine American regulation — food safety, worker safety, even financial regulations. They’re making this stuff up. (Applause.) This is just not true. No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.

Less than one month on, and we have exactly what he claimed ‘is not true’ happening. A trade agreement forcing a law change, and having what some would claim is an impact on food safety. And it’s happening a day or so before the House is voting to create even more such situations while claiming that it won’t do this. Do they not even recognize what it is they’re voting on?

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Comments on “House Votes To Change Law Due To Trade Agreement, While Insisting That Trade Agreements Don't Change Laws”

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32 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

BOLD FACE LIES

Just last night on the news Obama’s press Sec. said we can rely on the Pres. promises. Yeah right, I lost count on the broken promises and faith in politicians in general. Jail them all under the RICO law, they really an organized crime syndicate, both parties each with their own agenda, equally corrupt.

David says:

Re: Why no. No they don't.

And their payment packages increase the more and the better they lie.

The U.S. selectively breeds politicians which evolve, genetically and culturally, into beings with unprecendented amounts of greed, recklessness and capacity for lying with a straight face, lying about what they either know to be false or which they cannot be bothered to look into themselves since it would actually require working for those minor but steady parts of their income they pocket from public coffers.

Anonymous Coward says:

I see. Something is fundamentally wrong when a piece of legislation that serves no purpose other than establishing a clear benefit for domestic producers at the expense of all others is taken off the books.

A fundamental purpose of trade agreements is to try and break down barriers to trade and favoritism within a country towards its domestic industries. Apparently domestic favoritism is seen here on this blog as a good thing, even though what it does is undercut competition in favor of entrenched interests.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t see anything in this article that takes a stand either way on the merits of the country-of-origin labeling law. The point is that a domestic law was changed based on the demands of a trade agreement, which is something that the House and others have insisted would never happen.

Whether or not you (or the authors) agree with the law or its repeal doesn’t matter here. Either way, it’s perfectly right to criticize the ones making these claims when they’re so clearly shown to be wrong.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re:

I see. Something is fundamentally wrong when a piece of legislation that serves no purpose other than establishing a clear benefit for domestic producers at the expense of all others is taken off the books.

A fundamental purpose of trade agreements is to try and break down barriers to trade and favoritism within a country towards its domestic industries. Apparently domestic favoritism is seen here on this blog as a good thing, even though what it does is undercut competition in favor of entrenched interests.

Without country of origin labeling, how will you know if the food you’re eating came from a country with lax production standards, like China? How many kids got sick or died from tainted baby food? How many pets did Chinese-made pet treats and toys kill? Do you really want to eat meat that was raised and processed there?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I see. Something is fundamentally wrong when a piece of legislation that serves no purpose other than establishing a clear benefit for domestic producers at the expense of all others is taken off the books.

No one is arguing about that. Why change the subject other than the obvious: you and your friends want TPP so you’ll mislead to get people away from the point.

You’re so transparent. And not the good kind of transparency.

The point is simple. In fact, if you are who I think you are, I remember long debates with YOU about your insistence that ACTA and TPP could not and would not force the US to change a single law. You were most insistent on that fact.

And yet, when we post an example proving that you were full of shit, look how quickly you show up to try to change the subject.

Hilarious.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘Cattle bought from abroad would have to be segregated from domestic cattle, increasing costs and making imports less desirable’

while increasing the risk of cross animal infections and diseases.

‘Do they not even recognize what it is they’re voting on?’

dont be daft! of course they dont! and as it wont affect them, these politicians dont give a fuck either! on top of that, it makes no difference what Obama says, he flip-flops all over the place, changing his statements to suit the occasion, including ignoring what he wants to as well!

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re: Everything's ok!

Some right-wingers are calling it “Obamatrade,” and using that to scupper TPP and TTIP not because they give a damn about us, but to rob the President of any glory for getting a trade deal passed during his administration.

So yeah, bigotry works. Sigh!

Seriously, do a search on “Obamatrade” and see what you come up with.

Anon says:

Mooo!

The problem is this – the continental beef industry is pretty integrated. Cattle could be raised in Canada, shipped to the states, perhaps fattened up some more, and then made into juicy steaks. The law would have required that beef to be separately labelled as originating in Canada, meaning the whole assembly line would have to be stopped and started to process some cattle separately – those cattle would have to be somehow separately tracked, etc. That would be a logistical nightmare. Why do this? The farmers who would benefit from less beef on the market and so they lobbied to restrict trade using non-tariff barriers. Nebraska farmers vote for congress, Alberta farmers don’t.

The problem is – if ever there was a “level playing field” trade arrangement it’s between the USA and Canada. It’s hard to find more similar countries. If you want to argue against free trade where one side treats their workers or environment worse, that would be the USA not Canada. (and then there’s Mexico)

NAFTA was duly negotiated, debated, voted on and signed by all 3 countries. AFAIK, it does not contain any secret trapdoors or special gotchas like the Obamatrade stuff does. It promotes open trade. Nevertheless, congress and the white house have repeatedly ignored or bypassed or attempted to subvert the provisions, where it suits them and their high-paid lobbyists.

This is the opposite of the Obamatrade problem – this was a open set of principles – free trade. The principles were agreed to in a treaty, which was ratified by the Congress. Logically, if congress now tries to renege, pass laws in violation of that treaty, then they have a simple choice – abandon the whole treaty or abandon the attempt to subvert. Play nice. Stop being the 800-lb gorilla.

The problem with the current trade attempts is not that – it’s the opposite. The congress does not know what they are giving away, has not studied and debated it, may in fact cede the power to *make* rules to other bodies, may be giving away more that then think. This was never the case with NAFTA, nor with WTO rules.

There’s nothing wrong with binding yourself long term to a contract or treaty, if you understand the terms and implications.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Mooo!

Except it’s not about the cattle laws, it’s about the fact a secret international tribunal has the power to override the laws of a sovereign nation. The cattle thing is purely incidental. ISDS is a very anti-democratic structure.

Also if you really think that NAFTA would just be fine-and-dandy if they enforced the other provisions, well that’s the catch isn’t it? Treaties like these always have these so-called “safeguards” but they NEVER get enforced.

Rekrul says:

It’s funny, I mentioned this issue to my friend just the other day and he told me that it would NEVER happen because people wouldn’t stand for it. He said that people would fight it. Gee, I wonder how he plans to fight it, since it looks like it’s going to pass.

In fact, when I raised the whole issue of ISDS being an issue that everyone should be concerned with, he just laughed and said that nobody could tell the US what to do. If they were sued, their lawyers would win, and even if they somehow lost, they couldn’t go against the will of the people.

Justin says:

District of Criminals

Is anyone surprised that John Boner and the rest of these sellouts are in the process of selling the people of this country completely out to international corporations? Its time for everyone to admit that we have criminals running things, that they covered up a false flag 9/11 done by the military industrial complex and now we are not only in a police state and never ending war for profit but our health is at risk from these international treaties. The conspiracy theorists were not only right but they didnt predict how bad it was really going to get.

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