The U.S. has been negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in secret since 2009. This pact is the latest of so-called free-trade agreements, based on the horribly flawed North American Free Trade Agreement model.
These alleged trade agreements are misnamed in two ways. First, their emphasis is on expanding the rights of transnational corporations, not on traditional trade issues.
Many people also consider agreements between nations to be treaties. However, a treaty requires support of two-thirds of the senators for ratification, whereas an agreement requires only a majority in both Houses of Congress. Did this distinction play a role in the naming of these pacts?
The TPP is a deal with 11 other nations on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Members of Congress have been kept in the dark about this deal. To learn about the deal, they must go to the U.S. Trade Representative’ s Office to examine the voluminous document, but they are not allowed to make any notes or copies of the material, nor are they allowed to discuss it with their staff.
However there are more than 500 people, about 98 percent of them representing corporate interests who advise the USTR on the drafting of material and with the negotiations.
Due to Wikileaks and other sources, we know about some key pieces of the deal. The TPP would likely increase outsourcing of jobs, impose limits on food safety standards, place limits on financial regulation, expand monopoly patent protection for medicines, threaten internet freedom, etc.
Perhaps the worst feature of TPP is that it overrides democracy and sovereignty through its authorization of corporations to sue governments in private tribunals of trade lawyers. Hence environmental laws, as well as programs such as “buy American” could be overturned. Unsurprisingly, the corporate-controlled mainstream media has mostly ignored this deal that is hostile to the public interest.
President Obama probably can’t push this deal through Congress using constitutionally defined procedures. Therefore he is pushing for fast tracking the deal. This means that Congress has limited time for debate and cannot make any changes to the deal. Congress must either approve or reject the whole enchilada.
Please come to a rally outside Representative Polis’ office at 1644 Walnut St., Boulder, on Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. and encourage him to vote against fast track and to oppose the TPP. For more information, please visit tinyurl.com/jwg7ywb
Peace Train runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily