Barack Obama’s determined to pass TPP come Hell or high water. But neither Democrats nor Republicans are having it.
What do Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) have in common? Both stand staunchly against TPP, a proposed trade agreement with 11 other nations in the Pacific Rim.
The trade deal offers little (if any) benefit for most of us. Yet President Barack Obama’s determined to ram that Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) down our unwilling gullets come Hell or high water. And he’s hoping to do it during the “lame duck session” after the election. The Hill reports:
Obama on Friday sent notice to Congress that he intends to deliver TPP implementing legislation to Capitol Hill later in the year — a maneuver dictated by the fast-track trade resolution Congress passed in 2015.
Alas, the president might have to wait until that high water freezes over Hell before this deal ever happens.
Republican leaders in both chambers have said it’s unlikely the mammoth Pacific Rim trade deal will reach the floor this year. But the accord remains a top priority for President Obama in the twilight of his final term, and the critics — leery of pro-TPP members in both parties — aren’t taking anything for granted.
Normally, the GOP thwarts Obama’s agenda while liberals howl with rage. But not this time.
Liberals are amping up their opposition […] on and off of Capitol Hill, amid escalating concerns that the package will get an 11th hour vote after the November elections.
Bernie Sanders hammered the TPP relentlessly during his campaign. Now, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump oppose the deal as well. Back in October, Sanders called the pact a “disastrous” trade agreement that “will hurt consumers and cost American jobs.”
“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 added that none of our previous trade agreements have worked out very well for U.S. workers.
“This agreement follows failed trade deals with Mexico, China and other low-wage countries that have cost millions of jobs and shuttered tens of thousands of factories across the United States.”
And here’s the kicker. TPP will let corporations sue countries without even going to court. This bitter pill’s called “Investor-State Dispute Settlement,” or ISDS. And, as the Washington Post explains, it’s a doozy:
SDS would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws — and potentially to pick up huge payouts from taxpayers — without ever stepping foot in a U.S. court. Here’s how it would work. Imagine that the United States bans a toxic chemical that is often added to gasoline because of its health and environmental consequences. If a foreign company that makes the toxic chemical opposes the law, it would normally have to challenge it in a U.S. court. But with ISDS, the company could skip the U.S. courts and go before an international panel of arbitrators. If the company won, the ruling couldn’t be challenged in U.S. courts, and the arbitration panel could require American taxpayers to cough up millions — and even billions — of dollars in damages.
That’s right. If TPP passes, any laws we pass to protect our people and the environment will be null and void. All the rapacious psychopaths who run these corporations have to do is complain to a panel of “arbitrators” appointed by them! If the panel votes in their favor, that’s it: taxpayers are on the hook for their lost profits. These rulings cannot be challenged or reversed.
Even House Speaker Paul Ryan recently said the votes aren’t there, but the liberal anti-TPP groups are still bracing themselves. Upcoming campaigns include a CREDO petition, a “Rock Against the TPP” concert series, and other ongoing anti-TPP efforts.
So what’s so great about this danged TPP anyway? Barack Obama is usually highly persuasive; but, when it comes to this deeply flawed trade deal, he’s got nothing. In a recent press conference, he said our anxieties “are legitimate” and “can’t be ignored.” Yet he insists the deal will benefit U.S. workers and that we can’t “back away from trade and the global economy.”
“And that’s why, today, we are reaffirming our commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I’m a strong supporter of TPP because it will reduce tariffs — taxes, basically — on American goods, from cars to crops, and make it easier for Americans to export into the fastest-growing markets of the world. TPP levels the playing field for our workers and helps to ensure countries abide by strong labor and environmental rules.”
But here’s the thing. So far, trade deals have only managed to undermine our labor and environmental rules. And how do U.S. workers benefit from being forced to compete against desperately poor people in China and India? How is TPP going to be any different than the others? And ISDS? That’s a real deal breaker.
WATCH: Senators Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Sessions speak out against the trade deal.
Featured image: Jim Watson via Embeds by Getty Images.