TPP: Bad news for American labor and consumers

If you think NAFTA was a good idea, you’ll love what the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement has in store for us!

Apparently, corporate bigwigs have been heavily involved in crafting this new backdoor to greater profits for themselves and to job erosion, environmental damage, security risk and political mischief for the rest of us.

And we might never have known the details until after it was signed into law if folks like Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont’s Independent Senator Bernie Sanders hadn’t raised the alarm.

The Senator wants to know more about the terms that are being discussed and why these are not being publicly shared.  He also questions the process which has given major corporations, both domestic and international, a seat at the planning table, but has excluded consumer advocates and even elected officials such as Senator Sanders, who apparently only learned some of the details through leaked documents.

In a letter to U.S Trade Representative Michael Froman, the Senator expresses outrage with the process and demands, on behalf of the American people, greater tranparency and opportunity for input.

“It is incomprehensible to me that the leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP while, at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge as to what is in it,” Sanders said in the letter.  “In my view, this is simply unacceptable.”

Without a draft of the proposed agreement, it is impossible to know exactly what it entails, but corporate watchdog Public Citizen offers a handle on what it appears poised to do:

• offshore millions of American jobs,

• roll back Wall Street reforms,

• sneak in SOPA-like threats to Internet freedom,

• ban Buy American policies needed to create green jobs,

• jack up the cost of medicines,

• expose the U.S. to unsafe food and products,

• and empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards.

The Obama administration seems determined to push this trade agreement through in what recalls for me the Clinton betrayal of Amercian labor with NAFTA.

It’s as if the corporate puppetmasters move in to claim their pound of flesh while everyone’s attention is otherwise engaged.

Not surprisingly, we learn that Mr. Froman held “senior positions” in the Clinton administration:

A California-born lawyer who has known Mr. Obama since they were classmates at Harvard Law School, Mr. Froman, 52, exudes a genial charm. But it masks a relentless drive that propelled him from senior posts in the Clinton administration to a career at Citigroup, where he earned millions of dollars before resigning to join the Obama administration.

The “Good Ol’ Boys Club” strikes again.

Indeed, Republicans are more likely to support the agreement than the President’s own party.  

We can only hope that their persistent recalcitrance over anything on the President’s agenda will see them holding the line against the TPP.  That may just be wishful thinking because business trumps even politics, and really BIG business really wants this to happen.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

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