Jan 152015
 

A pandemic is an actively spreading disease outbreak occurring over a large region. Many diseases can result in pandemics including smallpox, typhus, tuberculosis and malaria. Other examples are the AIDS and bird flu viruses. As of 2011, about 34 million people were living with the HIV/AIDS virus worldwide and about 35 million people have died from this terrible disease since it was first discovered in 1981. New treatments have greatly reduced the death rate from AIDS but this virus is still not contained in Africa and other places in the world.

Avian influenza, or bird flu, is an avian influenza virus that has crossed the species barrier to humans and caused several pandemics. In 1918, an unusually deadly influenza pandemic called the Spanish Flu infected 500 million people worldwide and killed up to 100 million people, or what was then 5% of the world’s population. In 2003, an Asian subtype of this virus combined with human flu viruses to create a new virulent influenza strain that is easily transmissible and lethal. This outbreak, with a 60% mortality rate, occurred in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In 2013, the World Health Organization announced that it had confirmed 630 cases of this avian influenza, including the deaths of 375 people since its first outbreak in 2003. Health officials say this is a very conservative estimate because China usually does not fully report its number of bird flu cases. Most of these illnesses occurred before 2009, but recent outbreaks in China killed at least two victims in 2012. Health advocates warn that it can take researchers months to develop antiviral medications for a new strain of bird flu once it has been identified. They also warn that during a pandemic these viruses can mutate within their hosts, resulting in new viruses that are immune to the medications which were effective before mutation. They claim that air travel, on the scale we have today, can quickly spread a disease throughout the world before it is even detected. Scientists have recently reported that they have made a “blueprint” for a universal flu vaccine. It is estimated that we are about 5 years away from a vaccine that could counter the effects of all strains of the influenza virus.

The most recent pandemics, both extremely virulent, are the Ebola virus disease in West Africa which, as of August 4, 2014, had killed 932 victims out of 1700 reported cases, and Saudi Arabia’s Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a virus whose origin has been traced to camels. As of June 3, 2014, there were 282 MERS deaths from 688 reported cases. However, this is probably an inexact total since Saudi Arabia, like China, is not forthcoming about reporting all its cases. These pandemics have caused much worldwide concern – both for the victims and from an air travel perspective.

Pending Legislations:

S.626 – Prize Fund for HIV/AIDS Act

I oppose reforming current pandemic policy and wish to defeat S.626

I support denying any person the exclusive right to manufacture, distribute, sell, or use in interstate commerce a qualifying treatment for HIV/AIDS, or to a manufacturing process for such a treatment; prescribing remuneration, in the form of prize payments from a Prize Fund for HIV/AIDS in lieu of such market exclusivity, and wish to pass S.626

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to increase funding for the development of a universal flu vaccine

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

A number of our legislators have recently accused China of deliberately undervaluing its currency to reduce the price of its products and give its companies an unfair trade advantage. According to many estimates, Chinese government intervention keeps the yuan about 20% below its free market value against the dollar. Lawmakers believe these manipulations are subsidies that should be retaliated against. China claims that it manages its currency to ensure domestic stability and not to cheat its trading partners. China’s membership in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) requires it to “avoid manipulating exchange rates … in order to prevent effective balance of payments adjustment or to gain an unfair competitive advantage over other members.” However, there is no venue in which this claim can be effectively challenged because the IMF agreement is basically unenforceable. Afraid of sparking a trade war, our Treasury Department has declined to cite China for its currency manipulations. Retaliation opponents claim China has made improvements regarding currency issues in recent years and that many other countries are worse offenders. They claim Singapore, Taiwan, Switzerland and Japan now manipulate the value of their currencies for gains in international trade to a worse extent than China. They also say that the exchange rate is not the main impediment to American companies trying to sell more products to china.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1276 – Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act

I oppose reforming current currency manipulation policy and wish to defeat H.R.1276

I support investigating whether currency manipulation is a subsidy and subject to retaliation by determining if the currency of a foreign country is fundamentally undervalued if for an 18-month period; the government of the country engages in protracted, large-scale intervention in one or more foreign exchange markets; the country’s real effective exchange rate is undervalued by at least 5%; the country’s government has foreign asset reserves exceeding the amount necessary to repay all its debt obligations falling due within the coming 12 months, wish to pass H.R.1276

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

There are nearly a billion people, or about 15% or the world’s population, who are chronically undernourished. More than 2.5 million children die each year from malnutrition. Many others suffer the effects of permanently-impaired physical and cognitive problems that come from not having enough to eat while growing up. Many hungry people live in countries with high levels of debt, very few exports and little ability to help their citizens. Each year, American farmers help feed many millions of hungry people in nearly 100 countries. Human rights advocates say the battle against world hunger must be fought every day. The 2008 economic recession resulted in an explosion of worldwide food prices, including the tripling of rice prices. These prices have remained at relatively high levels since then. Advocates say that converting food into fuels such as ethanol has further contributed to global hunger. In 2000, the UN’s Millennium Development Goals included a commitment to reduce the world’s extreme hunger by 50% before 2015, but it is now doubtful this goal can be met.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current world hunger policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to increase food aid to developing countries

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Our intelligence agencies have disclosed proof of massive Chinese computer hacking operations that have targeted America and other nations. These targets include not only our military but our manufacturing, biotechnology, telecommunications, nanotechnology and clean-energy industries. Officials claim the theft of this technology is draining up to $300 billion from our economy each year and costing millions of American jobs. Our corporate executives accuse China of committing the largest transfer of wealth in history. One of our metallurgical corporations lost technology that took 20 years and a billion dollars to develop. Our technology companies continue to notice Chinese government agencies downloading software updates for commercial and industrial programs they have never purchased. China is now the world’s second-largest market for computers but ranks only 8th in computer software sales. Many suspect the Chinese are using pirated versions of our software to operate these computers. It is not unusual for Chinese hackers to bribe employees of foreign companies to get information on firms they wish to hack. The extent to which our National Security Agency (NSA) is involved in similar hacking of foreign entities remains to be seen.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.221 – SMART SALE Act of 2013

S.1111 & H.R.2281 – Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act

I oppose reforming current intellectual property theft policy and wish to defeat H.R. 221 and S.1111 & H.R.2281

I support directing the President to submit to Congress, publishing, and updating a list of foreign government officials or persons acting on behalf of a foreign government that the President determines, based on credible information, are responsible for cyber espionage of intellectual property of U.S. persons; makes aliens appearing on this list ineligible to be admitted to the United States, and wish to pass S.1111 & H.R.2281

I support protecting U.S. technology by requiring any person or entity engaged in interstate commerce that owns, licenses, or holds an interest in a federally-funded technology to notify the Energy Dept. within seven days after entering into negotiations for any proposed merger, acquisition, or other transfer that could result in the control of a U.S. firm by: the governments of China, North Korea, or a state sponsor of terrorism; a citizen of such a country who owes permanent allegiance to such country; or a corporation or other legal entity which is 50% owned by a citizen of such a country, and wish to pass H.R.221

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

There can be absolutely no doubt that China has full access to our markets. Two years ago we replaced the European Union as the No.1 market for Chinese exports. These exports totaled about $350 billion in 2012. During this time, China imported about $130 billion worth of products made by our companies. Many American businesspeople protest that the Chinese are not as forthcoming in opening their markets as we are to them. They claim there are many roadblocks to selling American products there. In some cases, China has adopted a policy called “indigenous innovation” which requires that products sold in China must be conceived, designed and manufactured there. U.S. executives also complain about tight investment restrictions. They say China prohibits foreign investment in many industries and markets, permitting only joint ventures with Chinese firms. Our companies feel they will be forced to transfer sensitive technology and other information to their Chinese partners under these arrangements.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current China market access policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to enact economic sanctions against China until it provides access to its markets in a way that is equivalent to their access to U.S. markets

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

In 1994, in an effort to increase trade with Mexico and Canada, we approved the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), creating the world’s largest free trade area. NAFTA removed taxes on products traded between these countries and gave multinational corporations the unprecedented right to sue governments for infringement of “investment rights.” These investor protections encouraged the relocation of many American manufacturing plants to Mexico – which is cheaper and less regulated than we are. For nearly 20 years, NAFTA’s impact on American jobs has been intensely debated. However, it now appears Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential election statement regarding “the giant sucking sound” of U.S. jobs heading for the border was somewhat accurate. Supporters claim NAFTA has been a resounding success, crediting it for fueling unprecedented trade and creating millions of jobs here. Foreign investment in Mexico has quadrupled and its over-all trade has tripled during these two decades. They say we must continue to build upon NAFTA and think more as a region in order to be globally competitive. Advocates and unions agree that NAFTA has been a big success for multinational corporations and has made Mexico into a manufacturing giant, but they claim it has also caused great problems for many inhabitants of both nations. They claim offshoring and lower wages have hurt our economy, led to the loss of our manufacturing sector and significantly contributed to the demise of our middle class. They also say that Mexico’s rural industries have been destabilized. Many employees of Mexico’s small companies lost their jobs when their firms failed once NAFTA removed their protective tariffs. This unemployment has been cited as the main reason our illegal immigration doubled in the years after NAFTA was enacted, even though supporters had said this pact would reduce the incentive for illegal immigration. America lost much of its manufacturing and shipping jobs to NAFTA. What we are getting as a result of approving NAFTA, critics say, are American products with American design and technology but without American labor. They disagree that NAFTA has provided millions of jobs, claiming it has merely substituted good-paying American jobs for poor-paying ones. Studies show that over 60% of the net NAFTA job losses were high-paying manufacturing jobs in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, California and Ohio. Critics also say that threats by corporations to relocate put significant downward pressure on the wages of many American jobs. They claim this “race to the bottom” is the legacy of free trade and NAFTA.

Pending Legislations:

H.R.191 – NAFTA Accountability Act

H.R.156 – To provide for the withdrawal of the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement

I oppose reforming current NAFTA policy and wish to defeat H.R.191 and H.R.156

I support providing that unless the conditions set forth in this Act are met, Congress shall withdraw its approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement; specifies that among such conditions that the President renegotiates NAFTA to correct trade deficits, currency distortions and the impact of agricultural imports on U.S. production; prescribes requirements for gains in U.S. jobs and living standards, increased domestic manufacturing; expresses the sense of Congress that until such conditions are met the President should not engage in negotiations to expand NAFTA to include other countries, and wish to pass H.R.191

I support withdrawing Congress’s approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement and directing the President to provide written notice of the withdrawal to the governments of Canada and Mexico, and wish to pass H.R.156

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Offshoring occurs when businesses send in-house jobs overseas. It is difficult to estimate the number of American jobs that have been lost to offshoring. Our government doesn’t keep relevant records, and the reports of corporations aren’t reliable. However, it is known that during the 2000’s the largest U.S. multinational corporations, those that employ about one American worker out of every five, cut 2.9 million U.S. jobs while increasing overseas employment by 2.4 million. Low overseas labor costs were cited by our executives as the biggest reason these firms moved, but critics say weaker labor and environmental laws also had much to do with these decisions. As offshoring has increased, our manufacturing sector has suffered the most. Eight million manufacturing jobs were lost between 1979 and 2009. More than 51,000 American manufacturing plants closed between 1998 and 2008. Advocates claim these stable, middle-class jobs have been a backbone of the U.S. economy for decades. These losses have done much damage to many communities across our nation. In the 1990’s, private equity firms led the charge for corporations to move to unregulated countries. Corporation executives feared being taken over by equity firms and needed to run their businesses in a way that maximizes short-term profits and share prices – or their companies would become takeover targets and they would be out of a job. The ploy many private equity firms use is to load up company executives with so much stock and stock options that they don’t hesitate to make difficult decisions such as shedding divisions, closing plants or offshoring work overseas. And although offshoring has been an economic boon to China, It has been a disaster for its effects on air and water quality, and the health of its people. Chinese citizen activism is increasing and more that 50,000 environmental protests have occurred since 2012.

Pending Legislations:

S.63 & H.R.375 – Made In America Manufacturing Act of 2013

H.R.1899 Fighting for American Jobs Act of 2013

H.R.929 – Patriot Corporations of America Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current overseas offshoring policy and wish to defeat S.63 & H.R.375, H.R.1899 and H.R.929

I support establishing a program for the joint award of incentive grants to a state or a regional partnership to support the U.S. manufacturing industry; limiting single grants to $20 million, to be used by the recipient to carry out a manufacturing enhancement strategy including; establishing a revolving loan fund for loans to manufacturers for various business purposes, retraining current and training new manufacturer employees, and creating or expanding manufacturer export activity and domestic supply chain opportunities, and wish to pass S.63 & H.R.375

I support requiring corporations to disclose the number of employees working in the U.S. and abroad, the number of employees laid off or forced to resign during the previous year, and prohibiting federal assistance to businesses that lay off a greater percentage of workers in the U.S. than in other counties, and wish to pass H.R.1899

I support reducing the income tax rate for Patriot corporations, and reclassifying foreign corporations created or organized to avoid federal taxation as domestic corporations for income tax purposes. Patriot corporations are defined as a corporation which produces at least 90% of its goods and services in the United States, does not pay its management-level employees at a rate more than 10,000% of the compensation of its lowest paid employee, conducts at least 50% of its research and development in the United States, contributes at least 5% of its payroll to a portable pension fund for its employees, pays at least 70% of its employees’ health insurance costs, maintains a policy of neutrality in employee organizing drives, and wish to pass H.R.929

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an UN-affiliated organization that attempts to promote and supervise international trade. It regulates trade between participating countries, negotiates trade agreements, resolves disputes and enforces participants’ adherence to WTO agreements. The WTO uses the principles of free-market capitalism when ruling whether a member state is compliant with its policies. Its panels, composed of government and industry representatives, decide whether a nation’s laws are a “barrier to trade” and in violation of free trade agreements. WTO’s “most favored nation” provision requires member states to treat each other equally and to also treat corporations from these states equally regardless of their histories. WTO opponents claim its meetings are not transparent and their decisions are made without consumer or citizen input. They say its policies often conflict with those of local communities that wish to reward companies who hire local residents, use domestic materials or adopt environmentally sound practices – all of which may be illegal under the WTO. Some opponents also say the WTO is being used by corporations to dismantle hard-won environmental protections which are attacked as “barriers to trade.” WTO panels have ruled that a provision of our Clean Air Act, requiring both domestic and foreign producers to produce cleaner gasoline, was illegal. The WTO also declared illegal a provision of our Endangered Species Act that requires shrimp sold here to be caught with an inexpensive device which allows endangered sea turtles to escape. Many other such examples exist. Critics half-jokingly say that nations must surrender a portion of their sovereignty when joining this organization. In some countries, the WTO is attempting to deregulate logging and fishing industries which could lead to further exploitation of these natural resources. It is also seeking to privatize public water utilities and energy distribution systems as well as education and health care services. Critics claim privatization usually involves the selling-off of public assets, with these services then being operated for profit rather than the public good. They say the profit motive has no place in allocating these essential services. They also say that WTO decisions should include all aspects of an issue, such as human and environmental considerations, not just the promotion of trade.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current World Trade Organization policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to make World Trade Organization meetings transparent and include consumer representatives; requiring the WTO to give equitable consideration of human and environmental factors as it does with trade promotion factors when devising trade policies

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

More than 2 billion people inhabit the 39 developing countries that are heavily indebted to other nations. These heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) pay about $3 billion each year to service their debt, some of which was acquired during the Cold War by corrupt regimes. These debt payments greatly reduce the availability of funding for urgent human services needed by the people of these countries. Beginning in 1996, industrialized donor countries began cancelling some of this debt through programs such as HIPC Initiative. To qualify, countries must face an unsustainable debt burden which cannot be managed with traditional means. About 36 of the 39 HIPC nations are in this program. However, this assistance is conditional on the governments of these countries meeting a range of economic management and performance targets. Critics claim these conditions often undermine poverty-reduction efforts by imposing significant financial burdens on their populations. For example, privatizing utilities tend to raise the cost of services beyond the ability of many citizens to pay. Critics claim the HIPC Initiative is a program designed by creditors to protect creditor interests, leaving countries with unsustainable debt burdens even after intervention. They say the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) have sufficient resources to easily cancel the debts owed to these institutions by heavily indebted poor countries.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current HIPC debt relief policy

I support modifying in the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, including requiring that: the amount of debt relief provided by the IMF and the World Bank under the Enhanced HIPC Initiative for a HIPC be sufficient to completely cancel 100% of the HIPC’s debt owed to such institutions; no provision of debt relief under the Initiative be conditioned on any country’s implementing a structural adjustment or stabilization program of the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility of the IMF or any other such program operated solely or jointly by the IMF or the World Bank; all HIPCs that are working in good faith to develop and implement their Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) pursuant to the Initiative not be required to make service payments on their debts, and wish to identify a legislator who will reintroduce H.R.643 – Debt Cancellation for the New Millennium Act (108th Congress, 2003-2004)

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) are the financial arms of the World Trade Organization. The IMF, an international organization with 188 member nations, facilitates international financial transactions and makes loans to developing countries in need. Wars, disasters and economic crisis are common needs. Often, the IMF is the only source of financial assistance available to these distressed countries. However, as a condition of granting these loans, the IMF requires applicants to make structural changes in their economies to help them achieve economic stability, reduce poverty and repay these loans. These changes are called structural adjustment programs (SAP). The IMF withholds assistance until these conditions are met. SAPs are supposed to allow the economies of these poor nations to become more market oriented, forcing them to focus more on trade and production. SAP requirements, also called “austerity programs,” are often economically painful to enact. Using free-market policies, SAPs include devaluating currency, increasing interest rates, deregulating and privatizing government-owned industries and reducing government spending. Often, the changes required by the IMF produce unintended results which cause the populations of these nations to suffer further hardship. For example, in order to be eligible for debt relief, developing countries have been forced to cut programs such as education, public health and other social safety nets. Usually, these programs are already underfunded and desperately need more funding, not less. Human rights advocates believe loans should not be used to compel needy nations to change their economies in a way that may benefit wealthier WTO members at the expense of the poor ones. They claim the IMF should not be involved in the policy-making process of developing countries and that structural adjustments should not be required for countries to receive IMF loans. Rather, these loans should be based on poverty and environmental needs not on economic reform. The IMF disagrees, saying SAPs are intended to reduce poverty and that it is the poor who benefit from its policies.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current IMF loan policy

I support identifying a legislator who will require the IMF to grant loans on need-based criteria without requiring structural adjustment programs

 Posted by at 12:00 am