Despite his inspirational speeches about helping the middle class, President Obama is poised to outsource more well-paying American jobs and irretrievably subvert our democracy and national sovereignty to corporate interests, by ramming through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement. Even scarier, our Congress is poised to give him the right to do so, if Congress passes the upcoming bill to “Fast Track” the TPP.
[Reposted from the Sonoma County Gazette | Lisa Goldwag Kassner | March 13, 2015]
We’ll go from “Change You Can Believe In,” to Change Beyond Belief.
Only 5 chapters of the TPP are about trade. Lurking in the other 24 chapters are threats to: Buy American and Buy Local programs; affordable healthcare; workers’ rights; U.S. wages; food safety standards; labeling of GMOs and products’ country of origin; public services; and public health policies concerning cigarettes, alcohol, toxins, clean air and water.
And those are just the chapters we know about.
TPP is being negotiated in secrecy among the U.S. and 11 other countries, representing roughly 40% of the global economy. As a trade agreement, TPP’s terms would be binding on all 12 countries, and TPP would override U.S. federal, state, and local laws.
The only Americans privy to the text are President Obama, the U.S Trade Representative, and 600 corporate advisors.
Much of what we know comes from leaks. We can’t see it. Even congress members and senators are prohibited from comprehensive review. After reading sections, Congressman Alan Grayson wrote, “The TPP is nicknamed ‘NAFTA on steroids.’ Now that I’ve read it, I can see why. I can’t tell you what’s in the agreement, because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified. But I can tell you two things about it: There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret. This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.”
The Intellectual Property chapter, exposed by Wikileaks, includes patenting of medical procedures, and longer drug patents, which would limit access to potentially life-saving, affordable drugs. The Electronic Frontier Foundation says TPP’s “copyright and digital privacy provisions … threaten millions of users’ rights.” TPP sneaks in the SOPA copyright legislation that Congress rejected due to public outcry. You could be fined for downloading content, or policed by your internet service provider.
TPP threatens our democratic rights through Investor-State Dispute Resolution. ISDR allows corporate courts to enforce TPP completely separately from U.S. courts. With corporate attorneys rotating as judges, no appeals and no calling witnesses, corporations can legitimately win millions of our tax dollars by suing our government, because a law “threatens a corporation’s profit potential.”
ISDR would deter passage of laws to protect us, and impact current laws in the public interest. Accountability watchdog, SumOfUs.org, reports ISDR is being used by “tobacco giant Philip Morris to [sue] Australia for billions of dollars in lost profits…because the government took action to reduce teenage smoking. Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly is suing Canada for $500,000,000 … because Canada has laws to keep essential drugs affordable.” Lori Wallach, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch director, warns that under TPP, 17,000 foreign corporations could sue U.S. government bodies, too.
TPP endangers our children’s financial future. Millions of American jobs have already been lost through WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA and trade agreements with China and Korea. A study by the non-partisan Center for Economic and Policy Research projects 90% of Americans will experience a wage decrease with TPP.
Public Citizen’s website, www.exposethetpp.org, adds TPP “would roll back financial regulations needed to avoid another [banking] crisis.”
The House of Representatives and Senate vote to approve trade agreements, and it’s their constitutional right and responsibility to negotiate terms. They have consummated hundreds of agreements.
But for TPP, Obama is asking Congress for Trade Promotion Authority (“Fast Track”). By approving this cunning Nixon-era scheme, Congress would willingly forfeit its rights to question and negotiate the terms for this and future trade agreements.
A Fast Track bill is coming up for vote soon. Nearly 600 organizations wrote Senator Wyden in September opposing Fast Track, including AFL-CIO and Sierra Club. Conservative groups opposing TPP include Americans for Limited Government, Center for American Families, End Global Governance, Tea Party Limited, and Gun Owners of America. But our representatives are under tremendous pressure to approve Fast Track.
We must demand that Congress vote No on Fast Track or anything like it. Congress must ensure transparency and challenge TPP’s terms. TPP is too critical for less.
If Fast Track passes, TPP will likely pass, and it will be nearly impossible for us to reverse it later. Now is the time to speak out.