Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Helping Obama-Biden Confront the Economic Crisis

It was just a week ago--but it seems longer given all the high-fives, tears, and spontaneous street celebrations--that the United States elected Barack Obama our next President. My birthday is November 4, and I had joked that all I wanted for my birthday was a Democrat in the White House, and I got my request. Thank you friends, family, and fellow Americans for a wonderful gift. I know it sounds trite because so many of us are saying it, but I do feel like I got my country back.

As some readers will remember, Obama wasn't my first choice, but once the party had a nominee, I got behind my candidate with my time, talents, and treasure. Now I want to get behind my President as he and his administration face so many problems. The economic crisis is perhaps the one that I can relate to most as a Fair Trader (and a stakeholder in 403b plans!). When it comes to trade, I most often focus on the micro--what you and I can do as consumer citizens--but surely now is the time to look issues on the macro level, especially regarding trade agreements.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy is part of several coalitions working to offer the new administration, and the new Congress, fresh ideas for trade policy. One of their efforts includes support for the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act of 2008. You can find the full act at the Library of Congress by searching HR 6180.
Here's a summary of its provisions, courtesy of Public Citizen. The initiative sets out what trade activists are for and what we believe our leaders need to do to address the financial crisis in terms of global trading systems:

* review existing trade pacts, incoming economic outcomes in the U.S. and indicators concerned with issues such as human rights and the environment,
* solidify standards for what can and not be included in future agreements, such as food and product safety standards,
* renegotiate existing trade agreements to address any gaps identified in standards such as labor protections,
* expand of Congressional oversight, and
* replace Fast Track approval.

Alas, as a resident of the District of Columbia, I have no voting representation in Congress but
if you DO have two Senators and some representatives to contact, let them know you support the TRADE ACT sponsored by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. Mike Michaud

In my next posting, I'll get back to what we can do as consumers, especially focusing on the topics from chapter 10 in my book "Daily Life with Fair Trade," such as making a household budget to guide your spending. Refreshing on those techniques in these difficult times will also help our new President out.

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