May 7, 2009

President Obama: Time To Bury Bush's Leftover NAFTA Expansion Deals!

Tell Congress: No FTA with tax-haven country Panama

The Panama FTA undermines U.S. efforts to combat tax havens. Write a letter to the editor today and tell your neighbors.

Dear Fair Trade Supporter,

Last week, thousands of you contacted your congressional representatives about the outrageous push by some in the Obama administration to revive Bush's leftover trade deals. You told Congress that Bush's Panama Free Trade Agreement (FTA) provides expansive new rights to crisis-causing, bailed-out corporations like American International Group and Citigroup, Inc. – while trashing President Obama's campaign trade reform commitments. Because of your efforts, members of Congress are becoming increasingly vocal against attempts to revive Bush's deal – and are highlighting Panama's status as a tax-haven and the public's opposition to any and all Bush FTAs.

However, some officials in the U.S. Trade Representative's office are still pushing the agreement. They want a vote on this retrograde NAFTA-style deal with one of the world's major tax havens to be done by Memorial Day! So, it's time we take this fight out of Washington and bury this Bush NAFTA expansion once and for all.

Write a letter to the editor today alerting your neighbors to the unimaginable prospect of the Obama administration pushing a Bush NAFTA-style trade pact with one of the world's major – and unrepentant – tax havens and the efforts of bailed-out banks like AIG and Citi to push forward this Bush NAFTA expansion. Then, tell a friend!

Did you see President Obama launch his crackdown on tax havens and tax dodgers? Note to the administration: Panama is a tax dodger's paradise! Many of the very financial institutions that are top-30 recipients of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout money have subsidiaries in Panama. Citigroup has a whopping 17 Panamanian subsidiaries, while AIG, Morgan Stanley and American Express each have one. Because Panama does not charge taxes on "offshore" subsidiaries, U.S. companies that set up subsidiaries there can avoid paying their fair share of taxes. And if the Panama FTA were to go into effect, TARP and other bailout fund recipients would not only be able to continue to avoid paying significant amounts of U.S. taxes – it would give these bad actors new powers to raid the Treasury and avoid tax reforms.

Yup, the Panama FTA's damaging provisions would grant these corporations expansive new rights to challenge U.S. government anti-tax haven initiatives - and the financial re-regulation that is so desperately needed - and claim U.S. taxpayer-funded damages as compensation in foreign tribunals!

With public anger at these banks and insurance firms at an all-time high, the Panama FTA is the wrong handout for the wrong interests. However, if we do not make clear NOW the political liability of proceeding with this crazy idea of pushing Bush's Panama NAFTA expansion, the least-favored U.S. corporations might get the Obama administration to implement Bush's crazy agreement for them.

Write a letter to the editor today explaining that you will not tolerate any more Bush NAFTA expansion deals and are incensed about the possibility of ANY agreement granting new powers and rights to financial corporations, many of which your tax dollars have already bailed out.

Support Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

Thank you for all you do,
Bill Holland, Deputy Director
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division

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