Should Congress approve the TPP?

Should Congress approve the TPP?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, AKA: TTP, is the biggest trade deal in U.S. history, covering two-fifths of the world’s economy. 12 countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam) are included in this deal, which will focus on jobs, medicinal drugs, food, the environment and more. The TPP deal might very well become the largest U.S. regional trade agreement in history if passed by the U.S. Congress.

These countries and their leaders have worked diligently on getting this deal done, but there is still a lot of skepticism in terms of the positive impact it will have overall, especially for the United States.

Tell Congress where you stand.

Arguments In Favor of the TPP

  • Better jobs, higher wages, and lower costs for American families. The U.S. would receive more business and customers as a result of this deal, which means higher paying jobs and fewer costs for U.S. families.
  • It is a unique chance for U.S. businesses to get involved with some of the fastest improving middle-class economies in the world. This would result in a fairer playing field for both U.S. workers and the companies they work for.
  • This deal is a huge chance for U.S. global leadership, specifically in the Asia-Pacific region. With additional economic activity with this area, national security would improve. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this deal is a golden opportunity for the U.S. to combat a quickly rising China.

Arguments Against the TPP

  • Corporations will be able to sue countries in secret international tribunals for making laws that cut into their projected profits. For example, a cigarette company could sue a country over packaging, or an oil company could sue a country over carbon emissions regulations.
  • It will give pharmaceutical companies a monopoly on drug patents which will drive up the costs of drugs that treat illnesses like cancer, malaria, aids and tuberculosis. “The new monopoly rights for big pharmaceutical firms would compromise access to medicines in TPP countries. The TPP would cost lives,” said Peter Maybarduk, Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program Director.
  • It undermines internet freedoms. It forces service providers to police the net by cracking down on things like illegal downloads and allows copyright owners to demand your domain or have your computer seized if it’s found to be “connected” to infringing activity – whether you participated or not.
  • All of the provisions of the TPP that recognize the digital rights of the public are non-binding, whereas almost everything that benefits rightsholders is binding. It suggests that parties “endeavor to achieve an appropriate balance in its copyright and related rights system,” but imposes no hard obligations for them to do so.

Now it’s time for you to take a stand and be heard. Whether you support the TPP or want to see it defeated in Congress, it’s important to tell your representatives how you want them to vote. Send your message to your Congressional representatives and participate in the debate.

Should Congress defund Planned Parenthood?

Should Congress defund Planned Parenthood?

Since its inception, Planned Parenthood has been a lightning rod for controversy and the recent release of undercover video footage by opponent of the organization have only brought the simmering discontent to a raging boil. These videos have raised serious ethical and legal dilemmas about Planned Parenthood’s practices, questions about whether they are performing illegal late term abortions, the manner in which abortions are performed at their clinics, and the possibility that aborted fetuses are harvested and sold. While these accusations arising from the videos has yet to be fully proven or dispelled, the questions linger.

Since Richard Nixon signed the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act in 1970, the Federal Government has provided funding to Planned Parenthood and other organizations for family planning services including contraception services and family planning information. At that time, the law received bipartisan support and was seen as a victory for both Liberals and Conservatives. Liberals saw it at a victory for women’s health and Conservatives as a way to keep people off of welfare. Today, Federal funds make up an estimated 30-40% of Planned Parenthood’s annual revenue with the rest coming from donations and fees for services rendered.

In light of the recent allegations, the movement to dramatically reduce or entirely eliminate Federal funds for Planned Parenthood has gained momentum and Congress is now set to vote on whether or not to defund Planned Parenthood. In anticipation of that debate, we want you to be heard. Below you will find information in support of and against Planned Parenthood.

Tell Congress where you stand.

Arguments In Favor of Defunding Planned Parenthood

  • Recent events have called into question the ethics, morality, and legality of Planned Parenthood’s practices. The government can better use the funds earmarked to Planned Parenthood to fund other similar organizations which are not plagued by scandal.
  • Government funding should not go to an organization that provides abortions. Although abortion is legal in this country, the Federal government cannot legally and should not morally support abortion or organizations that provide abortions.
  • Although Planned Parenthood cannot legally use Federal Funds for abortions services, the money that it receives from the Federal government indirectly funds abortions by allowing Planned Parenthood to direct other funds to abortion services.

Arguments Against Defunding Planned Parenthood

  • Planned Parenthood is the country’s largest provider of cost effective quality women’s health and family planning services. Planned Parenthood provides a full range of family planning and reproductive health services including cancer screenings, Sexually Transmitted Diseases testing and counseling, and contraception services.
  • Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider of low cost family planning and reproductive health services to under served populations; without Planned Parenthood the majority of these patients would not have access to these services.
  • Although Planned Parenthood does perform abortions, abortions make up a minority of the services they provide each year and under federal law federal funds cannot be used to provide abortions.

Now it’s time for you to take a stand and be heard! Whether you support Planned Parenthood or want to see it defunded, take action. Send your message to your Congressional representative and participate in the debate.

Should Congress approve the Iran Nuclear Deal?

The recently negotiated Iran Nuclear Agreement has been hailed by some as a triumph of diplomacy and decried by others as a failure of epic proportions. While interpretations differ and the ultimate outcome remains unknown, there are strong arguments both for and against the agreement.

Tell Congress where you stand.

Reasons to support the agreement:

  • Prevents war. It’s the only realistic, non-military way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear arms. As President Obama has stated, “[e]ither the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation or it’s resolved through force, through war. Those are the options.”
  • Reduces Iran’s nuclear materials. The treaty requires Iran to sharply reduce the amount of nuclear equipment and material it possesses, including enriched uranium (nuclear fuel) and centrifuges (which turn fuel into weapons material).
  • Increases time required to develop weapons. The treaty limits the type of nuclear technology that Iran is able to utilize to generally more antiquated modes. These reductions will increase the amount of time required for Iran to obtain the material and develop a nuclear weapon, theoretically increasing lead time up to one year and allowing world powers to respond to renewed Iranian efforts.
  • Imposes monitoring and inspections. Furthermore Iran agreed to submit to extensive monitoring and inspections of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Reasons to oppose the agreement:

  • Does not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program. The Treaty does not completely eliminate Iran’s nuclear program rather the treaty seeks to retard the development of the nuclear program. Meaning Iran will still possess the material and knowledge to produce a nuclear weapon, it will just take longer to do it.
  • Rapidly increases Iranian economic strength. In exchange for its cooperation, Iran will receive staged relief from the crippling economic sanctions imposed by the international community since the 1979 Revolution. The relaxation of economic and trade sanctions will allow for the influx of money into a rogue nation known to sponsor terrorism.
  • Lifts sanctions on conventional arms. Under the agreement, Iran will have access to foreign arms and missile technology within the next several years, thus potentially altering the regional power balance.
  • Limited inspection access. IAEA inspectors will only have access to “Suspicious sites” not all military sites and Iran may still deny the inspectors access.
  • Relies on Iran acting differently than it has. The treaty represents a gamble on the future compliance of a country that has a history of not complying with international treaties and regulations

Is it time for more Gun Control?

High profile incidents involving gun violence, like those in Sandy Hook, Charleston, and in Chattanooga, Tennessee have served to increase the debate over the ownership and regulation of fire arms in the United States.

The 2nd Amendment states that: “[a] well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The Supreme Court has established through precedent that that protection permits the private ownership of firearms for sport and security.

However, the number and high profile nature of gun crimes in this country has increased calls for legislation to restrict the sale and ownership of guns. According to FBI statistics, firearms will be used more than any other weapon in violent crimes this year. Furthermore, more than 60% of homicides will involve firearms.

In this head to head issue, we give you the opportunity to weigh the arguments for and against gun control legislation and then register your choice by sending a message to Congress.

Arguments in favor of Gun Control:

  • The 2nd Amendment: The 2nd Amendment protects the right of gun ownership for a well-regulated militia, which the United Sates has in the form of the Armed Forces Reserves and National Guard. Private Citizens are no longer relied upon to support the regular military in the same manner as they were in the 18th Century.
  • Guns, guns, and more guns: The number and nature of firearms available for private ownership place law enforcement officials at a disadvantage in the prevention of and response to gun crimes
  • Numbers never lie: The number of gun crimes indicate that guns are the preferred weapon of criminals. Restrictions on the private ownership of weapons will serve to keep those weapons out of the hands of criminals and lead to a decrease in violent crimes.
  • Have gun, will travel: People who own guns are far more likely to use them and they may not have the adequate training to use them effectively.

Arguments against Gun Control:

  • The 2nd Amendment: The 2nd Amendment protects the right to own firearms and the Supreme Court has upheld that right to include the private ownership of firearms.
  • More enforcement, not more regulation: There are currently over 20,000 laws applying to gun ownership in this country. Additional legislation is not the answer, better enforcement of the existing legislation is what is necessary.
  • Bad apples shouldn’t spoil the bunch: The majority of guns are owner by law abiding citizens who have firearms for show, sport or security. The small minority of criminals should be the targets of law enforcement not the responsible gun owners.
  • Guns don’t kill people, people kill people: A gun on its own is not dangerous, it becomes dangerous when put in the hands of a person who has the intent to do harm, thus we should prosecute the criminal not the weapon

Remember, it’s not enough to Like or Retweet or simply nod your head… Be Heard and send a message to Congress today!

Our First Head-to-Head Issue: 6 Arguments Regarding Federal Marijuana Legalization

 

Build Quorum is all about making it easier for people to have their voices heard by government officials. But we also plan to grow into a place where people can interact and share their views with one another. That’s why we’re excited to announce a new feature: head-to-head issues where you can “vote” just by signing a message on an issue that you care about.

State legislation supporting the legalization of marijuana is indicative of one of the largest generational shifts in politics seen this century. Once considered a symbol of counter culture, marijuana is clearly moving to the mainstream. However, federal law on marijuana hasn’t changed. There are strong arguments both for and against reform of federal marijuana laws and that’s exactly where we think buildquorum.com can help! We want to know what you think:

https://buildquorum.com/issues/Marijuana-Prohibition

In the meantime, here are some of the traditional arguments IN FAVOR of federal marijuana legalization:

Positive impact on the federal budget. It is projected that if marijuana were legalized on a federal level, it could generate up to $8.7 billion in tax revenue annually, while simultaneously reducing federal spending by another $8.7 billion.

Control over product. Government regulation of the marijuana industry would result in more control over production, as well as the industry. This would likely lead to a safer, verified product, as well as introducing controls regarding who can purchase and consume marijuana, for example minors.

Medicinal benefits. Marijuana’s potent chemical compounds have always been thought to have beneficial medical effects that range anywhere from easing cancer symptoms to curing insomnia. Decriminalizing marijuana would enable research into marijuana’s actual health effects, potentially enabling new medicinal benefits.

Here are some traditional arguments OPPOSED to federal marijuana legalization:

Overstated economic impact. Economists have over-estimated the financial impact of legalizing weed? Check this article: http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/12/news/economy/colorado-marijuana-tax-revenue/

It’s thought to have detrimental effects on both physical and mental health. There are countless studies that look into the effects of marijuana use, and some of these studies have concluded that it harms not only a person’s physical health, but also their mental wellbeing affecting things like IQ, damaging parts of the brain and accelerating the appearance of mental disorders if there is a family history.

Legalizing marijuana does not completely eliminate black markets. Many officials speculate that even if marijuana is legalized, an illegal black market will continue exist, especially because the federal tax on marijuana would likely be very high. (

 

So it’s up to you—what do you think?

 

Welcome to The Point – Top 8 Reasons to use Build Quorum

Thanks for stopping by our new blog, The Point. We hope that it becomes a new platform to continue the conversation after checking out some of our community created messages. If you have thoughts on the government, special interests or even #opengov, drop a line to hello@buildquorum.com and let us know what you think. We are actively seeking contributors with fresh ideas and perspectives to share their viewpoints with our community. We are open to hearing from all perspectives and we hope to facilitate civil and thoughtful conversation regarding the American experience. To begin though, we want to tell you what we think makes Build Quorum special.

Top 8 Reasons to use Build Quorum

  1. Reach: Build Quorum is the easiest way to reach any state or federal legislator. Our database contains at least one email address, webform address or fax number for all 535 members of Congress and all 7,838 state legislators. If you have something to say, and would rather reach your representative directly than sign a petition that you hope may eventually reach them, Build Quorum will deliver that message in real time, right now.
  1. Accountability: It’s really obvious to see how frustrated the American population currently is. A simple look at Twitter brings up what’s really on the American consciousness. We see hashtags like #ClintonEmails, #BlackLivesMatter and #JusticeForFreddieGray and we can see how desperately people are calling for accountability. Build Quorum helps hold government accountable by letting your lawmakers know that your voice does matter and by giving you an immediate outlet to reach them on any issue.
  1. It’s Easy: The process of creating, editing, and sharing a message from the Build Quorum platform takes less than 60 seconds, requires no account creation, and is completely anonymous.
  1. Build Quorum is Free: When we first dreamt up the idea of Build Quorum, we were influenced by our favorite Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin. Ben famously once said, “A penny saved is a penny earned” and we know the pennies you can save using Build Quorum can be spent more wisely. On top of that, Ben was the first Postmaster General and really fought for the right to directly address the government both of which echo our mission too!
  1. We’re Non-Partisan: We built Build Quorum for the activists on both sides of the debate. We are a team made up of libertarian, conservative, and progressive thinkers who believe that creating and sharing messages with elected officials should go way beyond simple petitions. We don’t support any particular issues, aside from 1st amendment and #opengov issue; however, we do want to see everyone succeed in getting their point across and support all of those engaged in the conversation.
  1. The Point: Your new source for interesting and off-beat political opinion and conversation. We are working with the editorial schedule as we speak so let us know if you have any thoughts or suggestions.
  1. It syncs: If you have a One Click Politics account (an advocacy toolkit for organizations trying to get their messages heard), it’s easy to sync Build Quorum messages you create to your NationBuilder, Sales Force or NeonCRM
  1. The future: As this is our first release, we are still working on a lot of new features and additional functionality. However, keep in mind our vision of giving every American free and open digital access to their elected officials, from any device, at any time, and you can imagine the path we are on. Please support our work and that of the #opengov movement by following this blog, retweeting us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook. Also, tell us what you’d like to see on Build Quorum! The future truly belongs to those who shape it and it is our hope and goal that Build Quorum becomes your first step when you want to be heard by government officials.