By Aaron Dykes
Critics are mounting in Congress and across the country over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), making a major issue out of stopping President Obama’s attempt to fast track the secretive trade agreement.
Grassroots opponents have been fighting the TPP for years now, while powerful corporate interests have negotiated favorable terms for a deal that could cost a great deal both to national sovereignty and to the economic livelihood of the working and middle classes.
Thus, opposition is coming from the political left-aisle – prominent Democrats are distancing themselves from Obama and voicing their opposition to the TPP in conjunction with labor interests, unions and others poised to meet unfair competition from lower wage manufacturers throughout the existing and developing multi-national “free trade” manufacturing zones in competing overseas nations.
These members of Congress and others are complaining about the highly secretive process of the trade agreement, and the extreme measures taken before even members of Congress can read passages from the pending 12-nation trade agreement. Via Politico:
If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.
If you’re a member who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before leaving.
And no matter what, you can’t discuss the details of what you’ve read.
The TPP is dangerous and leaves Americans vulnerable, as it puts cooperation with other nations and the driving bottom line and profits of top corporations well above the interests of American workers here, failing to even give full disclosure to Washington lawmakers.
Thus, it should be clear enough who the agreement seeks to benefit. With emphasis on subtly combating Chinese diplomatic and trade pressure, it opens the door for mega-corporations seeking to expand their footprint of dominance over the Asian and Latin American world. As Politico notes:
Administration aides say they can’t make the details public because the negotiations are still going on with multiple countries at once; if for example, Vietnam knew what the American bottom line was with Japan, that might drive them to change their own terms. Trade might not seem like a national security issue, they say, but it is (and foreign governments regularly try to hack their way in to American trade deliberations).
[…and earlier in the article]
For those out to sink Obama’s free trade push, highlighting the lack of public information is becoming central to their opposition strategy:The White House isn’t even telling Congress what it’s asking for, they say, or what it’s already promised foreign governments.So they are hiding behind the cloak of “national security” even while admitting that they have disclosed more about the agreement to the these foreign nations than to the leaders of this one.
The public has not been given an outline of the scope of this new phase of globalism, including how it might affect their jobs, income and the overall economy. It is not a common talking point on the news, or goal of a dramatized struggle with protests and riots.
President Obama has not appealed to its virtues in a public address or plead for the need to pass it. It has been a whisper in the public forums, while inside Washington, its promoters insist upon Fast Track approval and discrete, off-the-record proceedings.
What little has come to light about the past several years of secret negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership has indicated that the process has been led by corporate lawyers and trade lobbyists from the pharmaceutical, agribusiness and chemical giants and other players with insider interests.
The deal has all the hallmarks of the nation’s other big international trade agreements. Like NAFTA, CAFTA, the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North American and others, the powerful economic drivers of the deal are coordinated by and confined to the ownership level and to top managers, and discussion of its impacts – and even its promises – are downplayed in the media to keep the issue of the radar for workers ‘adjusting’ to the new rules of the game amid a challenging and even desperate market.
The People will be the last to know, and the least to benefit.
Aaron Dykes is a co-founder of TruthstreamMedia.com, where this article first appeared. As a writer, researcher and video producer who has worked on numerous documentaries and investigative reports, he uses history as a guide to decode current events, uncover obscure agendas and contrast them with the dignity afforded individuals as recognized in documents like the Bill of Rights.
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Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty May Not Have the Votes to Pass
By Joshua Krause
The Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty that is being pushed by President Obama, is alarming to say the least. The free trade agreement, which would include at least a dozen nations, has been drafted in secret and largely written for the benefit of global corporations. The fact that our government could establish any treaty in secret is bad enough, but given its sponsors and what can be gleaned from leaked documents, TPP looks like it will be a disaster for individual liberty, economic progress, and the sovereignty of our nation.
Despite the fact that the establishment has been able to keep this treacherous agreement secret for several years, the public is now becoming fully aware of it. You can almost feel their anxiety as support for it slowly evaporates. They’re clearly worried about the success of their treaty, and it shows. The US Senate is currently slated to vote on a bill that would allow Obama to “fast-track” the treaty, thus preventing Congress from amending the agreement at a later date. These corporations want this treaty set in stone now, before it loses even more support.
However, it may be too late for them.
While there is a lot of support for TPP in the halls of government, it may not be enough, and there appears to be growing fear and resentment over the treaty that crosses party lines.
Orrin Hatch, the Republican from Utah and the Senate’s generalissimo on the TPP question, gave a revealing interview to the Financial Times over the weekend. If Obama doesn’t get more Democrats behind fast-track very, very quickly, Part 1 of this undertaking is instantly in doubt.
As Hatch explained, at the moment there are too many Tea Party defectors on the right side of the aisle and too few Democrats willing to vote the bill forward. He seemed to suggest that it would be easier for Obama to cajole Democrats to get behind fast track than it would be to budge the Tea Party resisters.
That’s interesting by itself. Democrats are in for a rolling barrage of anti-TPP protest from constituencies—labor, the greens, civil society groups, the progressive wing—that matter at election time. If Democratic lawmakers are the best bet to push through fast track, the only word we’ve got for this is, Whoa!
And that’s only one roadblock this treaty needs to overcome. The TPP is international in scope, which means it needs the support of all nations involved if it wants to have any teeth. But it looks like the TPP is facing even more resistance in Japan than it is in the United States.
The Japanese leader couldn’t even deliver on imports of autos and farm products during his talks with Obama last week. These were stale, intractable trade issues when I arrived in Tokyo as a correspondent in 1987. We haven’t yet got even this stuff off the table?
The TPP’s outlook in Japan is upside down from ours. U.S. corporations are thoroughly behind the pact—having helped write many parts of it, after all. But big Japanese blue chips—makers of cars, consumer electronics, and machinery—are the core of the export sector and see nothing in the TPP other than unwelcome competition.
Flip this over and you have the weak side of Japan: rice and produce farmers and underdeveloped industrial sectors such as drugs and financial services. Long the beneficiaries of protectionist regulation (and generous supporters of the governing Liberal Democrats), these constituencies are also against the TPP—the farmers very vigorously.
Now you can hear Abe’s message to Obama for what it was: He’s very unlikely to deliver on the TPP—and whether he can’t or doesn’t want to is among the interesting questions he left behind last week. We’ll have to see which it is.
The US appears to have plenty of corporate support while lacking the enthusiasm of the legislative branch, while Japan has these roles reversed. If the two largest economies in this treaty are struggling to convince their politicians and corporations to go along with it, then it may be dead in the water. Good riddance.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple, where this article first appeared. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger.
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You can bet your backside they will past both of these bills!