Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor
The Obama Administration has been pressuring members of Congress to pass the bill that will give President Obama the “fast track” authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP) agreement without any debate in Congress. Fast track authority would not allow for any amendments and the bill would remain secret until just before it is voted on.
“President Obama is currently pressing members of Congress to pass Fast-Track authority for a trade and investment agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). If Fast Track passes, it means that Congress must approve or deny the TPP with minimal debate and no amendments. Astonishingly, our lawmakers have not seen the agreement they are being asked to expedite.” Nation of Change
This trade agreement, like previous international trade agreements, like NAFTA, is not a partisan issue. On just about every other piece of legislation that the Obama Administration has introduced to Congress, the Republican majority has stood fast against it. However, in this instance, Congress appears to be strangely united in its efforts to pass a secret bill that they have not even been allowed to read.
“Since negotiations began in 2005, the public, press, and members of Congress and their staff have been denied access to the TPP meetings and to drafts of the agreement. In stark contrast, according to a 2014 report by The Washington Post, 566 advisory group members can view and comment on proposals. Of these members, 480 represent industry groups or trade associations and dominate the most important committees.” Nation of Change
Why would any member of Congress vote for any bill that he or she have not been allowed to read, yet alone be part of the legislative process? Why does it make sense that corporations and business industry groups would be designing a bill that would benefit anyone other than their benefactors?
The little that we do know about the TPP is not good.
“It is expected that the TPP will include an Investor State Dispute Settlement provision that gives foreign corporations the right to sue governments for lost profits due to laws—such as environmental standards and safeguards for workers—they claim deprive them of revenue they might otherwise have received. Such claims are settled in tribunals comprised of trade lawyers whose identities are secret. The rulings of these tribunals pre-empt national laws and the decisions of national courts and are not subject to review by any national judicial or legislative body.” Nation of Change
According to one source, the TPP will mean a pay cut for the vast majority of American workers.
“The verdict is in: most U.S. workers would see wage losses as a result of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a sweeping U.S. “free trade” deal under negotiation with 11 Pacific Rim countries. That’s the conclusion of a report just released by the non-partisan Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
TPP’s corporate proponents have tried to sell the NAFTA-style deal to the U.S. public and policymakers by claiming that it will result in gains for the U.S. economy. They often cite a study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics that used sweeping assumptions to project a tiny benefit from the TPP. We brought that study down to size back in January, showing that, even if one accepts the pro-TPP authors’ litany of optimistic assumptions, the much-touted “benefit” from the TPP would amount to an extra quarter per person per day.
As this week’s CEPR report points out, the pro-TPP study projected a meager 0.13 percent increase to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025 if the controversial TPP would be signed, passed, and implemented. By comparison, economists have estimated that Apple’s iPhone 5 contributed a 0.25 – 0.5 percent increase to U.S. GDP.” Public Citizen
While I understand why there should be some secrecy in these kind of trade negotiations initially, when the trade agreement could have profound impacts upon the citizens of the countries affected by it, shouldn’t our representatives be allowed access to the proposed agreements in time to propose and push for changes to protect our domestic economy and laws? When the proposed agreement is projected to give very little to the average American worker who doesn’t lose their job and actually increase income inequality, where is the benefit? Maybe the answer is “follow the money”.
The Obama Administration should allow or be forced to shine some sunlight on this proposed trade agreement before Congress is forced to give it’s approval without any allowed changes. If it was up to you, what would you recommend be done concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement?
Would you vote on something that you had very little time to review and no opportunity to make changes?
Will American workers and their jobs be protected or will they be lost in the same way that jobs were lost due to NAFTA? What do you think?
Additional Sources: Reader Supported News
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