A Disaster in the Making: The TPP
By Susan Steffen-Kraft
NAFTA, CAFTA, Permanent Normal Trade Relation with China and the South Korea Free Trade agreement. Over and over again the supporters of these deals have been proven wrong about creating more jobs. Now comes the TPP! The year 2001 brought a loss of 60,000 manufacturing plants in this country plus the fact we have lost more than 4.7 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs.
NAFTA has led to the loss of nearly 700,000 jobs and the PNTR with China led to the loss of 2.7 million jobs which is a crying shame. To top it off our trade agreement with South Korea led to the loss of about 75,000 jobs. Folks the writing is on the wall and while other things contributed to these losses these agreements have been a very important factor. Do we want more of this? We need to keep our jobs here in this country!
We could easily lose our National Sovereignty because the TPP would exempt foreign corporations from our laws and regulations. This would place the resolution of any disputes regarding those matters in the hands of an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunal or the WTO. Of course that would be unconstitutionally creating another international judicial authority higher than our own courts and legislature in our own country.
These agreements will put American businesses (of the small and medium-size which are geared primarily for our domestic market) at a serious competitive disadvantage. Worse yet, the foreign firms that could operate here would be unburdened by the costly and onerous regulatory shackles that are crippling and destroying American free enterprise.
“There’s a great number of people in Congress on both sides of the aisle who are very beholden to big business—what I call the chamber of crony capitalism,” says Jay Devereaux of Unite in Action a Tea Party group. “It’s all about favors for their buddies, and the average American be damned and it’s really unfortunate.” On the other hand we have people who are against the TPP and their agreement on this would surprise you.
Between the years of 2001 and 2011, 2.7 million U.S. jobs were lost or displaced. The danger is that the TPP would usher in another wave of outsourcing. It would cause remaining manufacturing and technology bases as be offered incentives to move to Pacific Rim countries which would result in millions more American job losses. Can we afford that? We are already in trouble economically.
Many strange bedfellows are against the TPP and to name a few; Donald Trump said in May of 2015 that this "agreement is a disaster which other countries will use to dupe the United States. Senator Bernie Sanders who states that "Wall Street and other big corporations have won again. It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multinational corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense," he said.
Former Senator of Virginia Jim Webb has stated that there is “too much at stake for Congress to vote on Fast Track without seeing full details of the trade agreement beforehand.” The ex-Gov. of Maryland Martin O'Malley repeatedly voiced his opposition to fast-track authority and secret trade deals. All four of these men were in the running for President and two of them still are.
There are powerful Democrat interest groups who are in a major revolt against the TPP agreement. An alliance of labor, environmental, consumer, gay rights and human rights groups reacted angrily to the fine print of the TPP published online by the White House, saying the impact on U.S. workers, consumers and the environment is worse than they feared.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the nation’s biggest labor group “will join with our allies to defeat the TPP."
Democracy for America, a major grass-roots progressive group, said lawmakers should oppose the pact “if they want to keep their jobs.”
“Like a vote for the Iraq War, a vote for the job-killing TPP will never be forgotten and will haunt them for years to come,” said Charles Chamberlain, president of Democracy for America. Even Nancy Pelosi was against this bill. Wow! As for Harry Reid, "I'm not a big fan of fast-tracking," he told reporters on Capitol Hill in Dec. 2014. "I think that trade agreements in the past have not been good for American workers."
The John Birch Society who is as far from the AFL-CIO and Democracy for America as you can get is also against the TPP. Tea Party Nation and the socially conservative Eagle Forum are also not the usual kind to join hands with the Democrats and the AFL-CIO or Democracy for America. “They’re pushing this through not because of the American people or capitalism, but because they’re cronies and they’re corporatists, and they’re telling us to stick it,” stated Mark Levin a conservative radio talk show host.
An activist, Matthew Covington, urged Rep. David Young, an Iowa Republican to beware of the executive overreach that Obama would be engaging in if he secured fast-track powers. Covington recounted that “I said, ‘This is such a large trade deal and the Constitution gives Congress the authority to regulate that, not the president. This would give the authority to the president. But we elected you to give you that authority, to see what’s in this trade deal, to make sure it doesn’t jeopardize Iowa values,’ ”
Now is Covington part of the Tea Party? The answer is he is not! He has even hosted Bernie Sanders for a barn-storming tour of Iowa and is an organizer with a 40-year-old progressive organization. The name of this group is Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and it made its name in recent years fighting factory farming, payday lending, and wage-theft and is closely tied to labor unions.
Sherrod Brown is another one and he is not known for being conservative at all. He is well, he is a Democrat fighting against the TPP. “Fundamentally what these trade agreements have done is encouraged companies to follow business plans, which were sort of unknown until 20 years ago, where you shut down production in Steubenville or Toledo and move it to Wuhan or Mexico City and sell the products back into the United States,” he said.
“They talk about increased exports, but that’s a lot like saying well the Tigers got 5 runs, but the Indians got 7,” adds Brown of the United States Trade Representative office which has been lobbying the Democrats. “So you’ve got to talk exports-imports and every trade agreement we pass, we end up losing more jobs — good-paying manufacturing jobs, often union jobs, sometimes not.”
“Opposition to the TPP is growing daily, as more people are learning about its disastrous consequences,” says Rep. Alan Grayson who is a Democrat from Florida, who has helped lead Democratic opposition to the deal. “Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative, it’s clear that the TPP is a sell-out to foreign corporations that will gut our manufacturing base, and make our trade deficits soar.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren is afraid that if the TPP is passed, a some president in the future might use the TPP to change regulations like Dodd-Frand which is meant to safeguard U.S. investors.
On 11/05/15 I received a e-mail from Campaign for America's future which warned that the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a total disaster.
That is, unless you are "one of the corporations that inserted into it anti-competitive, anti-consumer provisions favoring their industries. For them, it’s an early Christmas present.
It means drug companies will be able to extend their monopoly pricing over new, life-saving drugs, often built on research paid for by taxpayers through the National Institutes of Health.
New cancer treatments, vaccines and even a cure for HIV could be put out of reach to all but the affluent because this trade deal would allow the pharmaceutical companies to price them for profit, not for people – and keep competing generic drugs off the market longer.
It gets worse. Foreign banks will have the ability to challenge and even overturn our financial regulations. The TPP will send jobs overseas, push wages down, weaken unions and make it harder to protect our environment".
Paige Richardson who is the Director of Oregon Right to Know says that the "TPP is like NAFTA on steroids, giving incredible power to multinational agribusiness companies at the expense of small farms and our environment. In fact, the United States’ lead TPP negotiator for agriculture is a former Monsanto lobbyist!
In fact under the TPP, corporations could sue local governments in secretive international trade tribunals for enacting pro-consumer regulations that hurt corporate profits – effectively giving companies like Monsanto the ability to veto the will of the people in favor of their own self interest."
Because the TPP is being negotiated in secret, we have no clue whether it will directly address GMO labeling, but it’s likely that at the very least it will punish countries that enact GMO labeling laws; that is if it doesn’t ban labeling laws outright.
Here are some of the big guns behind the TPP; "Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Dow Chemical, Unilever, Chevron, Caterpillar, UPS, Walmart, Chase, Citi — and a bevy of Big Business coalitions: Global Business Dialogue, Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Transatlantic Policy Network, Atlantic Council, and more". They are “crony capitalists,” not free enterprise capitalists. These powerful companies prefer to use the power of government and not use innovation, risk, and the ideal of an excellence to prosper.
Many of these crony corporations and associations have their own representatives working directly with the TPP/TTIP negotiators, and because they are the “cleared” elites they get privileged access to the documents you and I don’t get to see, and your elected representative would only have access to under extreme controls.
The current status of the TPP is this; the TPP is a trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries. On Feb. 4, 2016 it was signed in Auckland, New Zealand after negotiations of seven years which has not entered into force. The TPP may turn out to be the worst trade agreement in decades and now faces an uphill battle for ratification. The reason is that almost all the leading Democratic presidential candidates and many of the Republicans have weighed in against it, as well they should.
We must ask if it is really be worth sacrificing our national sovereignty and independence for these supposed benefits? Would it be worth sacrificing our liberty and our Constitution given to us by our forefathers? Is it worth the cost of subjecting ourselves and the future generations to come to the rule of international bureaucrats and judges? Those questions go straight to the core of what the TPP and TTIP are all about and you should ask yourself if it is indeed worth the cost.
http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/21010-10-reasons-why-you-should-oppose-obamatrade, campaign for America's future or https://ourfuture.org/, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/03/mitch-mcconnell-tpp-tea-party_n_6182126.html,
articles on the TPP from the Guardian,