Fast Track Trade Bill: When Obama and Republicans Agree…Watch Out
Losing control of the U.S. Senate in the last election wasn’t all bad for President Barack Obama. With Republicans in charge, the Senate stands a better chance of embracing what might be Obama’s last great policy goal: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Like other free trade agreements, the TPP—a trade pact among 12 Asia-Pacific nations—has been embraced by conservative free market advocates … in other words, Republicans.
Democrats, particularly liberal ones, are strongly opposed to the TPP, calling it a corporate bill of rights that will undermine U.S. sovereignty and do little to help average Americans. Fortunately for Obama, who is looking to defy his lame-duck status during his last two years office, Democrats are in the minority in both houses of Congress.
Not that the president isn’t trying to win some liberals over to his side and get them to talk up the benefits of the TPP.
Obama recently told Organizing for Action, the group with roots in his presidential campaign operations: “When people say that this trade deal is bad for working families, they don’t know what they’re talking about. I take that personally. My entire presidency has been about helping working families. I’ve been working too hard at this. I’ve got some of those folks who are saying this stuff after all I’ve done to help lift their industries up,” Obama said.
Many on the left have plenty to say about the TPP, most of it not good. They point out that the TPP would, among other things, grant foreign companies the ability to sue the U.S. government for actions that undermine their investment “expectations” and damage their business opportunities. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), one of the most vocal liberal critics of the TPP, has called “giving foreign corporations special rights to challenge our laws outside of our legal system … a bad deal.”
David Korten wrote in Yes! Magazine that the treaty also would result in signatory countries renouncing “their right to favor the domestic ownership and control of the lands, waters, and other productive assets and services essential to the lives and well-being of their people.”
“Another passage,” Korten says, “assures that corporations need bear no obligation to serve the interest of the people who live in the countries where they do business.”
Although Obama has chafed at charges that the TPP has been negotiated behind closed doors and shielded from public view by a cloak of secrecy, negotiators have decided that the text may not be released to the public until 60 days before it is signed, when it will be too late to change or amend it, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Even the U.S. Congress may be rendered largely impotent with regard to shaping the bill. “Essentially the Fast Track bill … [ties] the hands of Congress so that it is unable to give meaningful input into the agreement during its drafting, or to thoroughly review the agreement once it is completed,” wrote EFF’s Jeremy Malcolm and Maira Sutton.
A draft of a TPP chapter dated January 20, released by WikiLeaks in March, “makes it clear why TPP sponsors have gone to great lengths to keep their negotiations secret,” wrote Korten. “The document substantiates claims by opponents that the TPP is a corporate-rights agreement designed to facilitate the export of U.S. jobs, allow corporations to sue governments for enacting labor and environmental protections, make it illegal for governments to favor local businesses, and advance the colonization of national economies by global corporations and financiers.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman
To Learn More:
Obama Shifts His Pitch tor the Trans-Pacific Partnership (by David Nakamura, Washington Post)
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Clause Everyone Should Oppose (by Elizabeth Warren, Washington Post)
Fast Track Bill Would Legitimize White House Secrecy and Clear the Way for Anti-User Trade Deals (by Jeremy Malcolm and Maira Sutton, Electronic Frontier Foundation)
A Trade Rule that Makes It Illegal to Favor Local Business? Newest Leak Shows TPP Would Do That And More (by David Korten, Yes Magazine)
Obama’s Free Trade Deal Lets Corporations Impose Their Will (by Alan Pyke, ThinkProgress)
Democrats’ Civil War Over Free Trade (by Adam Behsudi, Politico)
Secret Trade Pact would Allow Foreign Corporations to Sue U.S. for Damaging Investment “Expectations” (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)
Fast-Track Trade Agreements=Job Losses for Americans (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Obama’s Secret International Trade Treaty Caving on Environmental Protections (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Proposed Obama Trade Agreement would Ban Buy America Laws (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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