“As the end of 2013 approaches, so does President Obama’s deadline for approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP is a direct and deadly attack on sovereignty and representative government masquerading as a Pacific Rim trade pact.
Currently, there are 12 countries negotiating in secret to create this regional trade agreement that some have called NAFTA on steroids. The number of participants could rise to a baker’s dozen should China be welcomed on board by the United States (President Obama has signaled that he would recognize the Chinese communist government’s partnership in the bloc).
President Obama’s fascination with intertwining the economic welfare of the United States with China is perhaps one reason a recent commentator called the TPP “another disaster from a proven liar.”
Writing in an op-ed for the Washington Times, Judson Phillips lists several of the principal criticisms of the TPP:
Barack Obama is asking for fast track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership. Consider that to be another version of “you have to pass this to see what is in it.” With fast track authority, there will be no hearings on this treaty. It will be negotiated then sent to the Senate for a simple up or down vote. The Senate will not be able to provide advice and consent because they cannot offer amendments under fast track.
Less than one fifth of the Trans Pacific Partnership deals with trade. The remainder of the treaty governs a myriad of things, including regulating the price of medicines. A few months ago, a mix of conservative and liberal groups stopped the “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA. Most of the provisions of SOPA are included in the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Under the proposals of the TPP, American sovereignty would be eroded. American courts would be inferior to foreign trade courts and disputes between American citizens and foreign corporations would not be litigated in American courts but in these trade tribunals.
The TPP is guilty of each of those charges, and the evidence is overwhelming.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of all the roster of frightening things about the TPP is the secrecy surrounding the details of the agreement.
A few federal lawmakers have tried in vain to bring into the light the frightening compromises being made by our trade representatives at the TPP negotiations.
Zach Carter of the online Huffington Post reported that Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness, was stonewalled by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) when he attempted to see any of the draft documents related to the governance of the TPP.
In response to this rebuff, Wyden proposed a measure in the Senate that would force transparency on the process, and that was enough to convince the USTR to grant the senator a peek at the documents, though his staff was not permitted to peruse them.
Wyden spokeswoman Jennifer Hoelzer told the Huffington Post that such accommodations were “better than nothing” but not ideal in light of the well-known fact that on Capitol Hill the real work of drafting and evaluating legislation is performed by the representatives’ staff members who are often experts in particular areas of domestic and foreign policy.
“I would point out how insulting it is for them to argue that members of Congress are to personally go over to USTR to view the trade documents,” Hoelzer said. “An advisor at Halliburton or the MPAA is given a password that allows him or her to go on the USTR website and view the TPP agreement anytime he or she wants.”
It is instructive that a duly elected senator of the United States has to beg and plead and threaten legislation in order to see the TPP trade agreement negotiations, but corporate interests are given a password by the USTR that grants them full, unrestricted access to those same documents.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) issued a statement criticizing the Obama administration for the lack of oversight into an agreement with devastating potential:
After more than a decade of broken promises from NAFTA, CAFTA, and normalized trade relations with China, we can now add a credibility deficit to the trade deficits we’ve seen. The leaked documents surfacing today only underscore the secrecy surrounding TPP negotiations and confirm worst suspicions about the direction trade negotiations are heading. It’s telling that it is easier for the CEO of a major corporation to access information about the negotiations than the American people’s elected representatives.
The negotiations must involve more transparency and bring more voices to the table.
Apart from the secrecy, a few drafts of key provisions of the TPP have been leaked to the Internet. One thing all the leaks reveal is that large corporations would be allowed to assume powers that constitutionally belong to Congress and to the states.
Notably, in both statements announcing the hemispheric enlargement of the trade bloc, former U.S. Trade Representative Kirk places the approval of “domestic stakeholders” (read: large corporations) on a level with that of Congress. It is precisely this exalting of big business, as well as the as-yet-impenetrable wall of secrecy surrounding the drafting of the TPP treaty, that has troubled many of the people’s representatives in Congress.
Although the treaty negotiations are being kept under a thick veil of secrecy, a draft document leaked to the Internet discloses that as part of its membership in the TPP, the United States would agree to exempt foreign corporations from our laws and regulations, placing the resolution of any disputes as to the applicability of those matters to foreign business in the hands of an international arbitration tribunal overseen by the secretary-general of the United Nations.
The leaked information also confirms the fears of many who from the beginning have opposed the entry of the United States into this trade agreement. The alarms sounded by several groups on the Left and the Right warning of the wholesale damage that the TPP could cause to commerce, copyrights, and the Constitution now seem vindicated.
An organization actively protecting the sovereignty of the United States is Americans for Limited Government (ALG). In June 2012, ALG released a statement drawing attention to critical provisions of the leaked TPP agreement, as well as ably pointing out some of the most noxious aspects of the proposed agreement…”