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U.S. Congressman Gary Peters
UPDATE: Congressman Gary Peters (D. MI-14) will announce his Senate bid this week!

Rep. Gary Peters will announce this week that he's running to replace retiring Sen. Carl Levin, sources tell The Hotline, giving Democrats another top recruit in a state critical to their hopes of keeping the Senate next year.

Peters, a three-term Democrat from the Detroit suburbs, will be the first major party candidate to jump in the race. And he's likely to have the Democratic primary to himself; Debbie Dingell, the long-time party activist who had been considering a race of her own, said two weeks ago she wouldn't run for Levin's seat.

Democrats will be quick to point out that Peters first won a seat in Congress by ousting Republican Joe Knollenberg in a swing district based in Oakland County, and that he survived the 2010 wave when just about every contested race in Michigan that year broke for Republicans by wide margins.

A Peters spokeswoman wouldn't confirm an announcement was imminent. "Gary is grateful for the encouragement from so many folks across Michigan. He is weighing this decision with his family, and they will let everyone know soon," said Haley Morris, Peters' spokeswoman.

Democratic sources in both Washington and Michigan, who asked not to be named because no official announcement had been made, said Peters would use this week's district work period to launch his campaign. - National Journal, 4/29/13

Congressman Gary Peters (D. MI-14) recently stated that Japan's involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is harmful to the U.S. auto manufacturing sector:

The Obama Administration is leading negotiations on a new multi-lateral trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with a number of Pacific Rim countries including Australia, Chile, Mexico and Vietnam.The TPP presents an opportunity for the United States to gain increased market access to the Asia-Pacific region, but it also presents real risks.Past trade deals such as NAFTA have had a devastating impact on the Michigan economy, especially on our manufacturing sector.

This month, Japan and the U.S. agreed on a deal paving the way for Japan to join TPP talks. Canada became the final TPP member country to approve Japan's entry late last week.

A decision among current TPP member countries allowing Japan's entry could come within weeks.

Allowing Japan's entry to the TPP before they open their auto market would amount to giving the Japanese auto companies a $1 billion annual tax break in the form of tariff elimination. This would be harmful to the U.S. auto industry, Michigan, and our nation's continued economic recovery.

Despite decades of efforts by Japan's trading partners to open the Japanese market to imported autos, Japan remains the most-closed auto market.

Japan eliminated their tariffs on foreign autos in 1970s, yet imports make up less than 6 percent of the Japanese auto market. Non-tariff barriers including currency manipulation and complex safety, noise and pollution standards have effectively kept Japan's market closed for decades.

Japan has done nothing in recent years to suggest it is moving toward a more open market. It recently implemented a program similar to our "Cash for Clunkers" in a discriminatory manner, excluding almost all American autos. Japan is actively manipulating its currency to make its exports more competitive and American goods more expensive in Japan; the Yen has been weakened by over 17 percent just since October 2012. Japanese currency manipulation adds as much as $2,500 to the price of an American vehicle being sold in Japan.

Allowing the Japanese to enter the TPP before they open their market threatens the economic renewal of the entire U.S. manufacturing base, especially in the Midwest. Our nationwide economy prospers when our auto manufacturers, part suppliers and dealers succeed — this is why the White House took decisive action to help save the industry just four years ago. We can't undo the sacrifice of American workers and taxpayer investments made to save the industry by giving Japan unilaterally expanded access to our market. - Detroit News, 4/25/13

Peters led a letter to President Obama in 2011, urging that Japan not be allowed into TPP negotiations unless they open their market. He opposes any TPP agreement that reduces or eliminates tariffs on Japanese autos without first truly opening the Japanese markets.  Here's the letter Peters and his colleagues sent to Obama:

Here's some details about the TPP:

A Broad Range of Special Interest Giveaways

Many provisions of TPP have little to do with trade per se. They simply promote the interests of powerful global industry groups and use legal and political mechanisms to limit true competition in the market place. For example:

Provisions of SOPA, the so-called "Stop Online Piracy Act" which was rejected last year by Congress. SOPA would give a competitive advantage to the film industry and other content-creators while restricting innovation on the internet.

Provisions that would extent patent protection on pharmaceuticals while restricting governments from negotiating lower prices.

Provisions that would privilege major banks and financial institutions over credit unions and the emerging sector of public banks.

Provisions that would disadvantage organic farmers and others who adopt safer and more environmentally-sound agricultural practices.

Provisions that would extend the dominance of coal and oil and hinder alternative energy producers, by blocking regulations and limiting deployment of smart grid and other infrastructure.

Attack on Local Economic Development Programs

According to leaked drafts, the proposed pact would ban state and local governments from extending preferences to vendors of locally-produced goods and services. "Buy American" programs would be forbidden. Local employers could not be supported. Local farmers could not be favored.

Threat to the Triple Bottom Line

Many jurisdictions have policies to promote opportunity and ameliorate the severity of market forces. These include minimum wage laws, laws requiring employers to offer health insurance, regulations covering product safety, work-place safety, environmental protection, and more. All of these protections are at risk under the TPP. For example, the pact would prevent communities from deciding whether or not they want fracking in their area.

A New International Court where Corporations Sue Governments

Once the TPP is signed, government entities at all levels in the participating countries will have to change their policies to conform to the agreement. This means dismantling any regulations, safeguards or incentives they have enacted to support their economies and provide better lives for their citizens. A system of tribunals will be set up to hold governments to account. Corporations could sue governments to demand the relaxation of standards, and could claim damages from governments that failed to conform. Under NAFTA, a similar tribunal system has already levied fines of hundreds of millions; under TPP this would expand greatly.

Secret Negotiations without Public Participation

All TPP negotiations to date have been conducted behind closed doors. No information has been released to the press and the public; no public participation or comment is invited or allowed. Even U.S. Senators have been barred from seeing negotiation points or drafts – yet hundreds of corporate lobbyists are at the table on a regular basis. Most of the information that has surfaced in public accounts comes from drafts leaked by participants dissatisfied with one provision or another. (For example, the Australian negotiating team is reported to have been upset about a provision which would have banned the way the Australian government negotiates with pharmaceutical companies. If implemented, this provision would result in a sharp increase in what Australians pay for prescription medication.) - U.S. News, 4/19/13

Senator Sherrod Brown (D. OH) who hails from an auto state has long been an opponent of the TPP and it's effects on manufacturing jobs in the U.S.:

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership represents an opportunity for American workers and businesses to sell products and services to new markets, but the rules of the agreement will define whether the TPP begins a new era in fair trade policy,” Brown said. “In ongoing TPP negotiations, American workers and businesses must be put first and our jobs not traded away in exchange for foreign policy goals.”

The TPP is a proposed trade agreement that currently includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada, and Mexico. Last month, Japan expressed its intent to join the TPP. Congress has the constitutional authority to set the terms of trade and commerce with foreign nations. The Administration is conducting the TPP talks using authority which officially lapsed in 2007, suggesting it will seek renewed Trade Promotion Authority, known as “Fast Track,” to conclude TPP negotiations, as well as other trade initiatives.

Brown has long been an opponent of NAFTA-style agreements that undermine American workers and businesses. Last month Brown, U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), and U.S. Representative Sander Levin (MI-9), led a group of 49 of their colleagues in urging President Obama to put the best interests of American workers and businesses first as negotiations continued with Japan on its potential entry to the TPP. Brown and his colleagues specifically cited Japan’s longstanding efforts to impose trade barriers and block U.S. exports as actions that have hurt the American economy, domestic job creation, and specifically its auto-industry.

Earlier this month, Brown led a group of seven Senators in urging Acting United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis to craft disciplinary language in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations for actions taken by state-owned enterprises that discriminate and distort free markets. Failing to craft disciplinary language for these actions, Brown and his colleagues argued, would hurt the American economy and its workers and businesses by adversely affecting the United States’ ability to fairly compete in foreign markets as new nations enter the TPP.

In June 2012, Brown introduced the 21st Century Trade Agreements and Market Access Act that would have restored Congressional oversight to trade negotiations and ensure that American trading partners play by the same rules as the U.S. Brown announced the bill’s introduction with business and labor leaders including James P. Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Ford Vice President of International Government Affairs Stephen Biegun, each of whom discussed the need to prioritize support for American manufacturing in the TPP. - Political News, 4/25/13

Back in December, I wrote about how Senator Brown and his colleague Senators Al Franken (D. MN) and Amy Klobuchar (D. MN) have been fighting to get involved in the negotiating process to protect American jobs in the TPP trade deal talks:

As negotiations on the latest U.S.-backed free-trade agreement resumed in Australia, U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota led a bipartisan appeal to President Obama, urging his administration to craft an deal that protects American jobs and workers’ rights worldwide.

Franken, a DFLer, joined Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine in authoring a letter to Obama on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free-trade agreement currently encompassing 11 countries and reaching all corners of the Pacific Ocean.

The senators want Obama to ensure the new free-trade agreement is “crafted to maximize good job creation and market expansion while minimizing the incentives for further off-shoring of middle class jobs,” according to the letter.

Twenty-two other senators, including Minnesota DFLer Amy Klobuchar, signed onto the letter.

The senators voice specific concern in the letter about including enforceable protections for labor rights in the TPP – a provision that has been lacking in previous free-trade agreements entered into by the U.S. - Work Day Minnesota, 12/9/12

The 22 Senators to sign this letter include Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Robert Casey (D-Penn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

Senator Brown has authored the 21st Century Trade Agreements Act to help protect American jobs from going overseas.  You can contact your Senator and urge them to support it:

Public Citizen has been pushing awareness and promoting activism to bring the TPP to the mass majority's attention:

I'll let their video below also explain more about the TPP:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has also been another big activist group calling for transparency on the TPP talks:

bobswern wrote an excellent piece about the TPP here that I strongly recommend you take a look at:

Right now the administration and the partnering countries are trying to fast track this deal some time this summer while members of Congress like Peters, Senators Brown, Franken, Klobuchar and Ron Wyden (D. OR), who chairs the congressional committee with jurisdiction over TPP agreement, are pushing to get involved with the negotiations to protect American jobs.  I am currently discussing putting together a TPP blogathon with some other Kossacks to help bring awareness to the TPP negotiations and to help get more members of Congress like Peters get involved with these negotiations so they can help save American jobs.  I am still working out some details over when to do the blogathon but if any or you are interested, please let me know in the comments and I will keep you all posted.

I'd like to thank Congressman Gary Peters for not only being a strong opponent to Japan's involvement with the TPP talks but also helping bringing this trade deal to light and fighting to save manufacturing jobs.  Peters is heavily considering running for Senator Carl Levin's (D. MI) Senate seat:

“I’m going to seriously consider it,” Peters told the Detroit Free Press editorial board. “We need to hold on to that seat.”

He said that any candidate will have to be “battle tested,” and he’s won three difficult congressional races, beating an entrenched Republican incumbent in 2008, holding on to the seat in 2010 when Republicans were winning seats up and down the ticket and winning a newly drawn district that includes a wide portion of Detroit.

He also said that any statewide candidate has to carry Oakland County in order to win a statewide seat. Peters was born and raised in Oakland County, was a Rochester city councilman and state Senator before winning his congressional seat and lives in Bloomfield Township.

“Whoever the candidate is has to prove they can win tough races and appeal to moderate and independent voters where elections are really decided,” he said. - Detroit Free Press, 3/8/13

Peters is seen as the ideal candidate for Michigan Democrats:

A letter signed by 54 Democratic state lawmakers is urging U.S. Rep. Gary Peters to run for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated next year by the retirement of veteran Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.

“Gary has risen above the dysfunction in Washington to deliver common-sense results that have made our communities stronger. We need Gary’s voice and vision in the U.S. Senate,” House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, said Monday in a news release.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, said Peters is “an incredible advocate for Michigan, our families and our kids in Congress, and I know he’ll continue to fight for those same values in the U.S. Senate.” - Detroit Free Press, 4/22/13

With Debbie Dingell recently deciding not to run for Senate, the field is wide open for Peters.  Hopefully he will be making his candidacy official very soon because I for one would love to see him in the U.S. Senate.  No doubt that manufacturing jobs will be a key issue in the Michigan U.S. Senate race and thinks could get interesting if this clown jumps into the race:
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) will make a decision on whether or not to run for the Senate "within the near future," he said on CNN Tuesday — though he didn't offer any hints on which way he's leaning.

"I'm doing my due diligence, taking a look at it. It's a tough decision," Rogers said when asked how seriously he was looking at the race. "I'm the chairman of the Intelligence Committee that has both civilian and the military intelligence apparatus in it. It's a huge responsibility and the work is important and impactful. I need to decide, is it more impactful to stay and do that as chairman or to kind of pull out of that or run for the Senate?"

"I'm working that through, talking with my family, talking with lots of people in Michigan, encouraged by the voices back home who are encouraging me to run, and I'll have a decision hopefully within the near future," he concluded. - The Hill, 4/9/13

Rogers is the co-author of the uber-controversial bill, CISPA, that was recently shelved by the U.S. Senate.  Peters voted against CISPA.  Peters would not only suffer the wrath of angry voters in the general against Peters over his support for CISPA, he could also suffer some heavy backlash in his own primary if this Tea Party congressman jumps into the race:

Longtime Michigan Republican operatives are open about their desire to see Rep. Mike Rogers run in the state's open-seat Senate race, but they're worried Rep. Justin Amash -- who possesses little regard for the GOP establishment -- won't let the possibility of a damaging primary derail his ambition for a seat in the upper chamber.
Rogers and Amash have been at odds in recent weeks, with Amash standing as the most vocal opponent to Rogers' CISPA cybersecurity bill. Following the arrest of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Amash took to Twitter to call on law enforcement to Mirandize the suspect. Rogers hit the Sunday talk show circuit and defended the public safety exemption.

But perhaps most illustrative of the tension between the two camps comes from recent chatter that Amash is being pressured by Ron and Rand Paul to stay out of the Senate race. Amash, the thinking goes, would be better-served as the chief libertarian voice in the lower chamber, rather than risking his young career on a statewide race in which the Democratic nominee would likely be favored.

Amash could "pick up where Ron left off [in the House]," said one GOP consultant. "They can't afford to lose him. He is more valuable to them as an asset in the House than as a candidate for Senate."

Republican pollster Steve Mitchell echoed that sentiment. "I think the idea of being the libertarian voice in the House is very attractive if you couple that desire with the alternative of being out of Congress completely." Republican operative Dave Doyle added, "Does [Amash] really want to give this up after two years -- and do the Ron Paul folks really want to give him up after two years -- and possibly have nothing of it?"

That line of thinking, say Amash's allies, comes from people with no firsthand knowledge of his interactions, and likely amounts to a rumor campaign designed to undermine his support. "There's a hunger and an appetite for Justin Amash because he's that transpartisan libertarian," said Preston Bates, whose Liberty For All Super PAC has pledged at least six figures to boost Amash if he joins the race. "Even moreso than Rand, he's a guy who can run in a blue state and win. You think that Democrats in Michigan are going to vote for Mike Rogers? ... Mike Rogers is gonna get slaughtered." - National Journal, 4/24/13

If you'd like to get some more info on the TPP negotiations and Japan's involvement, please contact Congressman Peters with your questions and concerns:


Originally posted to pdc on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 09:54 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Motor City Kossacks, and Occupy Wall Street.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Congressman Gary Peters (D. MI-14). (6+ / 0-)

    He's going to be a great Senator from Michigan.

  •  Perhaps the most under-discussed topic here... (3+ / 0-)

    ...IMHO! Excellent post, PDC! I hope it gets lots of Rec's!

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 10:17:07 AM PDT

  •  Muddled thinking (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loge, Words In Action, Sky Net

    From two blockquotes in you diary:

    Non-tariff barriers including currency manipulation and complex safety, noise and pollution standards have effectively kept Japan's market closed for decades.
    Japan has done nothing in recent years to suggest it is moving toward a more open market. It recently implemented a program similar to our "Cash for Clunkers" in a discriminatory manner, excluding almost all American autos.
    Once the TPP is signed, government entities at all levels in the participating countries will have to change their policies to conform to the agreement. This means dismantling any regulations, safeguards or incentives they have enacted to support their economies and provide better lives for their citizens
    So your objection to Japan joining the TPP is that they have not yet removed non-tariff barriers by dismantling regulations, safeguards or incentives they have enacted to support their economies and provide better lives for their citizens: which they would be required to dismantle once the TPP is signed. Moreover, the Japanese government could be sued by US manufacturers for not doing so.

    That looks more like a reason to support their inclusion than to refuse it. Or perhaps the objections raised are an admission that US car makers do not manufacture cars in their US factories that have consumer appeal outside of the USA?

    We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 10:22:50 AM PDT

    •  Agreed. I don't like the reasons cited (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, Loge, Sky Net

      The US also has crash and emissions standards which are not coordinated with any other countries.

      It is true that foreign cars have not done too well in Japan. But americans cars also have not done well in places like Hong Kong, which has no domestic car industry, and no tariff of any kind. The Big 3 simply have not done well in the asian market aside from China.

    •  "currency manipulation" in the Japanese context, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sky Net

      would involve the efforts of the BOJ to try to address their lost two decades.

      I'm sure this type of xenophobia plays well in some circles and is good old fashioned political homerism, but these days, Japanese car companies have significant production in the U.S. because of transport costs and because our labor costs keep falling.  Gary Peters should be complaining about free trade with Tennessee, with its lack of environmental and labor standards in its trade agreements with Michigan.  

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 01:53:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  HA! He said that out loud? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sky Net
    Japan eliminated their tariffs on foreign autos in 1970s, yet imports make up less than 6 percent of the Japanese auto market. Non-tariff barriers including currency manipulation and complex safety, noise and pollution standards have effectively kept Japan's market closed for decades.
    Safety and pollution standards... yeah, those sneaky manipulative clean-air loving car-accident-surviving little jerks!!  How dare they!?!

    With ZERO tariffs we can't make a car clean and safe enough to gain traction, yet with a 2.5% tariff on cars and a 25% tariff on foreign trucks, Japanese auto-makers enjoy MAJOR market shares in the US.

    And the answer to this is obvious: build better cars Raise the tariffs to make it more expensive for Americans to buy the cars they want.

    Gee.. he's from Michigan.  Shocker.  Good luck with that Mr. Pander Bear.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 11:04:15 AM PDT

  •  Free trade with Japan is not a bad thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sky Net

    If anything we should be behind free trade with countries with comparable levels of worker protection, environmental protection, legal protection, safety standards and social development as us. We should be having free trade with countries like Japan and Canada. It's countries like china, India, Mexico, etc, which are problematic.

    Also, it's disengenuous to say that Japan has been manipulating their currency since Oct 2012, without mentioning the fact that the yen had gained a huge amount of strength after the Tsunami. It got to 70 yen to a dollar.  Even now, at 90 yen to a dollar, the yen is still strong when compared to the last decade or so.

  •  I just hope this is real. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    He's mine, and I've seen him chose Obama over the middle class before.   First you bail it out, and then you do another bad deal.  

    Obama is such a fool, and I'm an even bigger one for voting for him twice.

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

    by dkmich on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 01:08:34 PM PDT

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