Despite a heavy push by President Barack Obama for a sweeping multinational trade deal, a majority of Americans echo the concerns of labor unions and a number of Democratic members of Congress that the trade accord will negatively impact U.S. workers and companies.
Two-thirds of Americans say protecting American industries and jobs by limiting imports is more important than allowing free trade so they can buy products at lower prices from any country, according to the most recent NBC News online survey conducted by SurveyMonkey from June 3-5.
And that sentiment is held across party lines, with majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents agreeing that limiting imported inexpensive goods from other countries to protect jobs from other countries is more important than being able to buy cheap goods.
After a dramatic showdown in the Senate over giving the president "fast-track" aauthority to negotiate a sweeping multinational trade pact, the fight now moves to the House where the majority of Democrats oppose the legislation amid worries that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive 12-nation trade accord, will cost American jobs and result in lowered middle class wages.
But that approval came only after the Senate initially blocked consideration of that legislation in a dramatic showdown that was seen as a stinging rebuke to the administration's efforts.
As one summit closes, another opens. Thursday sees the start of the influential Bilderberg policy conference, which this year is being held in Austria, just 16 miles south of the G7 summit, and in a similarly inaccessible luxury alpine resort. The participant list for the conference has just been released by the organisation, and some big names leap off the page.
No fewer than three serving European prime ministers will be attending, from the Netherlands, Finland and Belgium. They will be discussing “European strategy” with the head of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, and the president of Austria, Heinz Fischer. Two European finance ministers are on the list: one Dutch, the other George Osborne. The UK chancellor is a regular attendee of the Bilderberg summit, and this year he will be showing off his post-election glow. Unlike that other Bilderberg regular, Ed Balls, who is being invited back despite having by some considerable distance the weakest job title on the list: “former shadow chancellor of the exchequer.
Europe’s hottest financial potato, Greece, is on the conference agenda, and it’s good to know Benoît Coeuré, a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank, will be there to discuss it in strictest privacy with interested parties, such as the heads of Deutsche Bank, Lazard, Banco Santander and HSBC.
The scandal-hit HSBC and everyone’s favourite vampire squid, Goldman Sachs, are both extremely well represented at this year’s conference. HSBC in particular by its chairman, its busy chief legal officer, and board member Rona Fairhead, who is also on the board of PepsiCo and chair of the BBC Trust. Good to know the BBC is in such safe hands.
Other financial luminaries on the list include the vice-chairman of BlackRock, the CEO of JP Morgan Asset Management and the president of the Royal Bank of Canada, which is the nation’s largest financial institution. Morgan Stanley will be represented in Telfs by board member Klaus Kleinfeld, who also runs the world’s third largest aluminium producer, Alcoa.
From the worlds of industry and manufacturing are some eye-wateringly big names. The CEO of Michelin is invited, along with the head of Roche, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, the chairman of BP, the CEO of Siemens Austria and the heads of various industrial conglomerates such as Techint and Investor AB, companies so large they’re hard to classify. Although “gigantic” goes some way towards it.
It’s a heady step up into the big league for Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair. He’ll doubtless be hoping to thrash out a few last-minute deals over dinner with the head of Airbus, Thomas Enders.
Apart from making holiday jets, Airbus is also one of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers, and the 2015 conference agenda has a distinct whiff of war. Chemical weapons threats and Nato are both set to be discussed. Luckily the head of Nato is there to discuss it.
As ever, foreign policy formation is a big part of the conference. Terrorism and Iran both make the agenda this year, and participants can expect a high-level briefing from senior US State Department official John R Allen, the special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter Isil. And it’s likely that the subject of Russia will be of interest to the German defence minister and deputy defence minister, both of whom have found the time this week to be in Telfs. As has the head of the Danish intelligence service, who will likely have a part to play in the session of cybersecurity.
Finally, it’s worth noting the growing presence of Google at Bilderberg. The company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, is on the group’s steering committee; he’ll be joined in Austria by his vice-president for engineering, advanced technology and projects, and the vice-president of engineering for the not-at-all terrifying sounding Google DeepMind. They, presumably, will be leading the session on artificial intelligence. This will be listened to with great interest by Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal and director of Facebook, as he continues his quest to merge with computers. But that’s another stor
For now, the story is: Bilderberg 2015 has an extremely high-powered participant list, featuring a large number of senior politicians and public figures. With participants this powerful, and an agenda containing this many hot topics, the Telfs policy conference is sure to be covered in depth by the world’s press. And by “sure to be”, I mean probably won’t be. For reasons that, as ever, escape me.
4 things we know about the secretive Bilderberg Group and 1 thing we'll never know - World - News - The Independent
We know who attends them
The group releases a list of attendees. From the UK this year George Osborne and Ed Balls are attending.
Other people going to the 2015 meet-up include José Barroso, the former EU Commission President, and executives from firms including Google, BP, Shell, and Deutsche Bank.
We know what's on the agenda
Prior to meetings the group releases broad subject areas for debate. This year, all we know is that they'll be discussing "Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Chemical Weapons Threats, Current Economic Issues, European Strategy, Globalisation, Greece, Iran, Middle East, NATO, Russia, Terrorism, United Kingdom, USA, US Elections".
A lot of these subjects hints are very broad-ranging. 'United Kingdom', for instance, could be a reference to the Brexit, the recent elections, or both.
We know they take security very seriously
The area around the meetings is put into complete lockdown. There is no need to rely on private security: national governments of host countries cooperate fully and provide police protection.
This year's summit starts on Thursday but already a zone around the Interalpen-Hotel Tyro has been established by Austrian police with security checks on vehicles entering and exiting the area.
Arrests have been made at previous meetings, including of journalists trying to find out what is going on.
But... we'll never know what was said
People who attend the events do not, as a rule, talk about the specifics of what was discussed. This includes politicians whose job is to represent their constituents.
There are no minutes taken of the meetings, and no reports are made of any conclusions reached. No votes are taken and no policies proscribed. Journalists trying to interview participants at meetings have previously been arrested.
The specifics of most international summits and meetings tend to be fairly opaque, but some public announcement is usually made as to conclusions reached.
Not so with the Bilderberg Group; the global establishment departs as quietly as it arrives.
“We’re doing very well, we’re close,” Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who’s been at the forefront of the GOP effort to round up support, said Tuesday of the current vote count. If Republicans want to bring the trade legislation to the floor Friday, they must decide Wednesday.
Still, the state of play remains fluid, GOP lawmakers and aides cautioned, and there’s a chance the vote will slide into next week.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been holding small meetings with lawmakers in his office as he seeks to maximize Republican “yes” votes — and he huddled late Tuesday with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to address some unresolved spending and procedural issues. House Republicans will hold a closed-door meeting on Wednesday morning at which the trade vote is expected to be a major topic of conversation.
In fact, TAA has emerged as a last-minute sticking point between Capitol Hill Republicans, Democrats and the White House. Pelosi is privately pressing Boehner to drop a proposal, already passed by the Senate, that would prolong a cap on Medicare spending to pay for TAA — Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are open to changes. If the budget offset isn’t changed, labor unions and opponents of the measure like Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) could pounce and look to peel off Democratic votes.
DeLauro, one of Pelosi’s closest allies, is leading the anti-fast-track faction and will help round up at least 150 Democratic “no” votes. Pelosi has expressed her own preference for an alternative bill by Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, that the White House opposes. So when fast-track eventually does come up for a vote, all Democrats will be closely watching their leader.