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Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018: Net neutrality repeal compromised, tax bill fleeces America, prioritize human rights in NAFTA talks

Net neutrality repeal compromised

I was relieved to read Christopher Cousins’ recent article on our senators’ support of net neutrality. It’s good to know that our senators listen to the interests of the average internet user, but it doesn’t matter much if the decision makers in the Federal Communications Commision either don’t listen or don’t care.

It’s disturbing that an important part of the FCC’s process of repealing net neutrality was compromised by a flood of fake comments, and nothing was done to correct it. According to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, it didn’t matter that the process was compromised because he didn’t use the falsified comments. He knew that the process was corrupted, and he didn’t care.

He didn’t even have the decency to cooperate with the New York attorney general’s investigation to discover where these fake comments came from. Instead, Pai chose not to hand over important evidence. He showed once again that he is disregarding the strong opposition to his repeal.

Now it’s too late to stop the FCC’s vote. Net neutrality was repealed by a 3-2 vote. The internet all across the country will be altered by a committee of five people. Thank you to Sen. Angus King for trying to delay the vote, but it simply wasn’t enough.

Connor Libby

Tax bill fleeces America

Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Bruce Poliquin approved the recent tax bill to put U.S taxpayers on the hook for what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates to be a $1.4 trillion increase in the debt. What is it that we are paying for? Welfare for corporations and the wealthiest in our community, whose tax rates will be slashed.

“America First,” clearly applies only to wealthy families like the Trumps, many of the same representatives who drafted it, and the corporate lobbyists who put them in office. The rest of us are the “America Fleeced,” who will ultimately pay for this corporate welfare with our health care, Social Security, public schools, vocational rehab, and so much more.

To add insult to injury, ads are being run asking Mainers to thank Collins for the tax cut crumbs tossed to low- and middle-income Mainers. Does Collins think Maine voters don’t see this little short-term gain will cost each of us thousands and thousands of dollars in long-term health and retirement care benefits?

This idea of corporate welfare trickling down to the rest of us in jobs and benefits didn’t work in the 1980s and has nearly bankrupted Kansas more recently. Collins and Poliquin didn’t represent Maine in this bill, they just hopped on the America fleeced Trump train.

Steven Kelley

Prioritize human rights in NAFTA talks

NAFTA renegotiations are intended to conclude next year, and some fear the new deal may be no less catastrophic than the last. Motivating the Trump administration’s reworking of the agreement is not concern for its consequences to public health, the environment, or workers but rather Trump’s naive obsession with the U.S. trade deficit.

Regarding labor, a sticking-point in discussions thus far, it is possible that the NAFTA “modernized” in 2018 may do little to address the damages inflicted by the deal over the past couple of decades: thousands of job losses and the ratcheting down of labor standards. The U.S. trade representative’s stated objectives for the renegotiation contain a heading on labor but have been criticized as being vague and lacking steps toward operationalization. The Trump administration seeks to reinstate the calamitous investor-state dispute mechanism, which allows corporations to sue other nations’ governments over matters such as labor standards. And the U.S., together with Mexico, has not reciprocated Canada’s call for increasing labor rights in the agreement.

NAFTA should be based in rights and not on corporate profit. As outlined in the “Political Declaration of the Encounter of Social Organizations of Canada, the United States, and Mexico,” a list of demands created by North American civil society groups, NAFTA needs to include binding labor obligations that meet and exceed international standards. Investors should not be privileged over workers. And to this end, the negotiating process must be transparent and participatory, to ensure that regular citizens’ priorities and concerns are heeded.

Matthew Kennedy
Bar Harbor

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