Another year, another well-received State of the Union address from President Obama -- but why, in the middle of all that welcome talk about hiking capital gains taxes and closing corporate tax loopholes, did he assert that "free" trade deals would open foreign markets for American goods? Newsflash: our trade deficits with our "free" trade deal "partners" always go way up -- meaning we buy way more of their stuff than they buy of ours. Does that sound like a way of creating jobs here? "Free" trade deals outsource American jobs to foreigners in no position to demand good pay, and they don't create markets for American goods, but instead make America the dumping ground for goods cheaply made by those same wage-slave foreigners. This is why these "free" trade deals also subjugate our environmental and labor laws to "investor-state tribunals": so that cheap goods that would violate those laws can still flood our markets. And here's the kicker: everyone knows this, be they liberal or conservative. So let's all get together for some real bipartisanship, shall we? Both Public Citizen and Friends of the Earth help you tell Congress to reject "free" trade deals and "fast track" proposals.
Meanwhile, we have expanded Republican majorities in Congress now, as you know, which means the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, or ANWR, is less safe than it was last month. And yet H.R. 239, the Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act, is an actual bipartisan bill, because its two sponsors so-far include one Democrat (Jared Huffman of California) and one Republican (Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania). H.R. 239 would designate the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge a wilderness area, protecting it from any oil drilling for all eternity. Why do we stop drillers from going into the Arctic? Well, as Shell's numerous adventures there remind us, we don't know how to drill well enough to avoid catastrophe, and even Arctic drilling supporters have never proven we'll ever get very much oil out of ANWR, or very much price relief at the pump -- all of which tells me ANWR drilling is a scam to make a few oil executives rich. The Alaska Wilderness League helps you tell your House Rep to support H.R. 239, and protect at least part of ANWR from oil drillers forever.
Meanwhile, Congress has to renew the Childrens' Health Insurance Program (or CHIP) by September 30 or six million children will lose health insurance coverage. CHIP has helped cut the rate of uninsured among children in half during the 17 years it's operated, and it works the way conservatives would want it to work -- by giving block grants to states and letting them determine how best to spend the money. In other words, reauthorization should be fairly uncontroversial -- but then extending unemployment insurance and raising the debt limit were fairly uncontroversial until a few years ago, and reallocating Social Security trust funds to the disability fund was also fairly uncontroversial until a few weeks ago. So there's no telling what horrible things Republicans will do to get more power -- and while putting a fairly popular program in jeopardy wouldn't seem like a path to more power, weakling Democrats need to learn that, in the long run, an evil vision always defeats no vision. So MoveOn helps you tell your House Reps to stand up for CHIP.