Despite our efforts, U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk still thinks he can pass a "free"-trade agreement with Panama. Yet Panama is a major tax haven for corporations (including TARP handout recipients Bank of America and AIG, who have dozens of subsidiaries in Panama). The proposed "free"-trade agreement with Panama would let companies like BoA and AIG challenge any U.S. government attempt to close offshore tax havens -- and guess who'd be paying up in damages? That's right, you, me, and our great-great-great grandchildren. But we can win on this, because plenty of House Democrats and Republicans oppose "free" trade agreements of any kind. And that, my friends, is bipartisanship you can believe in. Public Citizen helps you remind your Congressfolk to oppose the Panama "free"-trade agreement.
Speaking of corporate evil, the House may pass a credit card reform bill this week, but the Senate -- even with one of the Republicans' most devoted members finally throwing up his hands and defecting to the Democrats -- may stifle the people's will, again. That's why Consumers Union helps you call your Senators and tell them what's what. The bill in question, S. 414, would end the most egregious practices of credit card companies -- hiking fees on good customers for no damn good reason, preventing consumers from paying off higher-interest debt first, like that. We've been fighting for credit card reform for a long time now, and I believe President Obama is on board; it's time to get the Senate on board.
Meanwhile, Secretaries Salazar (Interior) and Locke (Commerce) have until May 9 to roll back Mr. Bush's most offensive endangered species regulations -- you remember? The ones that permitted all kinds of corporate aims to get front-and-center consideration over scientific aims when making environmental decisions? -- and CREDO helps you tell them to roll them back. What a sick, immoral, and decadent society we must be that we have to petition the Secretary of Commerce to get our own environment protected, but that's the way things are. And it's not gonna kill us to pretend to play their game. This time.
Finally, I must respond to those who (like Sen. Cornyn) claim that Sen. Specter's defection upsets our "system of checks and balances." You know, besides saying that "checks and balances" refers to the branches of government checking each other's power, not the ability of political parties to check each other. If voters wanted a Republican minority to check the "excesses" of a fairly timid, incremental Democratic party, then the voters would have elected more Republicans. And if voters decide they want a Republican minority to check a Democratic majority's "power," they can communicate their will to their Reps and Senators 24/7. Republicans need to stop whining and start asking themselves how they can earn the right to be a "check" or a "balance" against Democratic power. I'll give 'em a hint: stop acting like insane bastards. And start acting like conservatives. A healthy society needs sane, forceful conservatives to check the excesses of liberals. But our Republicans ain't those conservatives -- they've become the party of nativism, the party of gay-bashing, the party of woman-hating, and the party of corporate power über alles. I'm not asking them to be Dwight Eisenhower. I'm asking them to step up and say things like, the smallest community can make the best decisions. Or this solution is worse than the problem. Stuff like that. I'm really not asking for much. I'm just asking nominal conservatives to be conservatives.