David, can you explain the TPP to me please? Or maybe, tell me why everyone is so suspicious of it? Thanks
Happy to help my friend. But I can’t speak for everyone else. Let me just provide information based on how I look at it. Links will be provided throughout the text, hope you check them out.
How would you feel if I told you that your president was negotiating a multilateral free-trade treaty, in secret meetings dominated by governments and large corporations from places like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, and Brunei, and all without any serious citizen or congressional oversight? How would you feel if I told you that the party sent to Washington to stop things like this, was actually the party trying to fast-track it and pass it before anyone really gets a chance to look at it? And what if I told you that these agreements have a history of undermining labor rights and cause further poverty and job loss? Well, unfortunately, all three are true and pretty much exactly what we are looking at. I don’t know about you, but this bothers me immensely.
What I am about to share effects Democrats and Republicans; Liberals and Conservatives and of course Libertarians and Independents. We all seriously need to get our heads out of the sand for a moment and start teaming up here. We need to use our heads and think with our self-preservation and/or Constitutional mind for a minute and explore what is about to go down.
I’m talking about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) or sometimes called the Asia-Pacific trade deal. And oddly enough, the Republicans and the President are working together to get this done. In fact, they have gone so far as to have classified much of the agreement and made it illegal for those who have read it to release any of the details. It’s crazy really. Senators cannot even view the bill in their own offices. They are forced to go into a classified viewing room and cannot bring in staff or take notes or anything. This is a really big issue actually, because the TPP is poised to become the largest corporate trade agreement in U.S. history.
As I have stated numerous times, and written in my book, since 1913, there has been five constants: 1) an increase in the size of government, 2) a reduction in personal liberty, 3) a devaluation of our money, 4) a continuation of policy from one administration to the next, and 5) BOTH parties have been responsible. That is the premise that I believe we need to be working from when addressing this particular situation. You also need to understand, that regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, this is a bad deal for everyone in the United States and will further the “5 Constants” beyond what I can even describe.
For those of you have followed my work for any extended period of time, you know how critical I was, or have been, of agreements such as the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), protested in Mexico and Canada, and signed in 2005 by Bush without citizen or congressional oversight (or knowledge) and continued by Obama. Of course, this was basically a “Super-NAFTA”, or North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), something else I have been highly critical of. Both NAFTA and the SPP have proven to be absolutely devastating to our economy, with each little addition proving to be worse than the previous whole.
So what is the TPP? No doubt, there is a lot of confusion about this. Most of the debate is wrapped up in terms and legalese and even speculation. Really, the biggest thing to understand is that the TPP places the largest corporations equal to and in some cases, even above the power of any country’s ability to oversee their operations. This is not some new deal though. It has actually been in the works for over six years now. It is true that most people have not read the agreement, but we gain this insight from the elements that have been leaked, and by picking up on the context clues. BE AWARE! Seriously; anything being touted as a “Global Corporate Coup”, deserves a little extra scrutiny. For that matter, any time the President and the Republican are found holding hands, people should be paying attention.
As a matter of fact, when you look at who is for this, and consider what they have to gain, and contrast that with their history in regard to the American worker, the hair on the back of my neck stands straight up! Morgan Stanley is one of many U.S. companies supporting and lobbying for the TPP. Other companies include Goldman Sachs, Halliburton, Monsanto, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, etc. But more telling is the fact that the Oligarchs are all about it. Jeb Bush has said that the TPP would boost the economy at home and “strengthen our ties to our allies throughout the Pacific region, including our close allies and partners in Australia, Mexico and Japan.” Putting aside her money connections for now, Hillary Clinton has said “This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.” Both of them are for it, should we be too?
The part I find to be extremely interesting is in the idea that Republicans like Senator Jeff Sessions are trying desperately to warn people about how dangerous this deal is, suggesting that it poses a threat similar to that of Amnesty or Obamacare. Meanwhile, Republicans like Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan are working so hard to ensure it gets passed, regardless of whether or not anyone has actually read the bill. In fact, Ryan recently sounded quite a bit like Nancy Pelosi when he stated that “It’s declassified and made public once it’s agreed to,” when answering questioning from Rep. Michael Burgess. On a similar note, a recent interview of Ryan I find to be horribly ironic as Ryan attempts to sell Americans on the level of “transparency” in regard to this bill, when again; no one can actually read it, many working to “fast-track” it and get it signed before everyone finds out about it, and he is supposedly sneaking other notable elements into the bill.
What we really need to understand is that the TPP would expand NAFTA to unprecedented levels. The way I understand it, the President and the Republican Party are aiming to sell more than just the country. Hard to believe they are in this together right? Consider for a second the economic impact that NAFTA had; record U.S. trade deficits and unprecedented job loss, pressure on wages, inflation, and all attached at the hip of massive imports which have further decimated local jobs by decreasing local demand and raising prices on domestic product. Yes, we can expect more of the same moving forward because the TPP is Super-Duper NAFTA.
It has been said that the TPP is simply a repeat of many of NAFTA’s mistakes. With those mistakes come the same repercussions such as lost jobs. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that under the TPP we stand to lose more than 130,000 jobs to Vietnam and Japan alone. And that’s just two of the twelve nations involved. How many times must we repeat a mistake before we understand it’s not a mistake at all?
As a matter of fact, part of the TPP actually accounts for and plans for a loss in domestic jobs, and hopes (and I do stress “hopes”) to provide assistance for workers who lose their jobs — by actually cutting medical assistance to the elderly. Well… in all fairness, that is actually a companion bill known as the trade adjustment assistance (TAA), a bill that provides federal funds for workers displaced by free trade agreements. Essentially, workers receive job training and placement services, relocation expenses, income support, and help with Obamacare… at a price. Sorry grandpa! Will it work? Who knows?
Thankfully, and for the shred of evidence we needed to confirm my suspicions, Wikileaks published some of the agreement and experts are starting to weigh in. I want to share just a few criticisms with you. James Love of Knowledge Ecology International says that the draft “confirms fears that the negotiating parties are prepared to expand the reach of intellectual property rights, and shrink consumer rights and safeguards.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation says the TPP has “extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate“.
Rep. Keith Ellison said “I tell them I’m concerned about local communities being able to do what they want to… This is essentially an ‘America’ issue. The last thing I want is some international unelected body deciding these critical questions.” Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch at Ralph Nader–founded Public Citizen, says she reminds conservatives that TPP would “allow people to go to these extra-judicial tribunals to have the U.S. treasury give them compensation without appeal.”
Senator Jeff Session has suggested that this trade deal would create a “Pacific Union” similar to that of European Union saying “I’ve been there three times and I can tell you it is far more than a trade agreement,” he said. “It is a creating of an economic union. The congressional resource said it is a wide-ranging political and economic partnership that is created where the Sultan of Brunei gets one vote. The president of the United States gets one vote. Twelve countries – they have the ability to add other treaties and pass them. They have the ability to deal with climate issues, wage issues and environmental issues. There’s just no doubt about that.”
As if this wasn’t enough to be alarmed about, (or at the very least cautious) a recent Op-Ed in the Washington Post by Democrat Elizabeth Warren, senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, states that “One strong hint is buried in the fine print of the closely guarded draft. The provision, an increasingly common feature of trade agreements, is called “Investor-State Dispute Settlement,” or ISDS. The name may sound mild, but don’t be fooled. Agreeing to ISDS in this enormous new treaty would tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations. Worse, it would undermine U.S. sovereignty.” Basically, and similar to what Lori Wallach said, Warren is suggesting that businesses will be allowed to contest decisions made by governments without being required to go to court in the US.
And let’s be honest for a moment. If the largest trade bill in American history was really going to be so great for the American people, don’t you think they would be showing it off, instead of hiding it? What are they hiding? What don’t they want you to see? Well, the leaks suggest the strong potential to raise the cost of medicines, or sneak in SOPA-like threats to Internet freedom, and to simply empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards.
And from what I have read, it seems that the TPP is not only modeled after NAFTA, but it actually expands special protections for firms that offshore U.S. jobs. I have also read that U.S. negotiators literally used the 2011 Korea FTA as a template (which failed to deliver the 70,000 jobs its brokers promised). Of course many are not familiar with the KFTA but it equates to more of the same. IE: falling exports and increasing trade deficits.
So it’s not too much of a stretch to understand why they had to classify this bill – regardless of how unconstitutional that action may be (and weird so few seem to care). But oddly enough, and as if this all wasn’t enough, I do not see a simple trade deal in the making. I see an opportunity being seized. I see a weapon being developed. Not a conventional weapon of course, but an economic one.
Let’s REALLY think about this for a minute. Who are the players? Why would the people of the US be systematically removed from any kind of oversight if this was some great trade deal? It’s a mystery right? But when we consider that we are also on the verge of a horrific economic collapse according to many experts, and the government seems hell bent on hiding that as well, we have to consider that the two might be related, and mainly because the timelines seem to mesh. Could there be a bigger, darker, and frankly… scarier reason behind this rapid, classified, and bipartisan deal? Indeed, there might very well be.
What if I suggested that the geopolitical intent of this deal was to counterbalance a surging and expansive modern Chinese empire? When we think about it like this, and when we factor in recent rhetoric that China has become a threat to the US as of late, at least according to the Pentagon and policy makers, the pictures gains a little focus. Factor in the nations joining the deal and we can begin to see several loosely connected ideas. This may be as simple as the AIIB and the BRICS versus the IMF and the World Bank; something we have been foreshadowing here for a while now.
China now hosts the AIIB, otherwise known as The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This is an international financial institution regarded by some as a rival for the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). So far, a flurry of countries (including U.S. allies like the U.K., South Korea, and Australia), applied to join China’s new bank.
Now, I have said it before, but this poses a massive threat to our status quo. Not only does it threaten US dominance, but it threatens the US dollar. Meanwhile, China is engaged expanding their military might, positioning themselves to be the next global power, and is even suddenly engaging in island building all across the South China Sea, in what appears to be some kind of military advance on disputed territory, and all over resources. Factor in global politics and economics, and we may have found ourselves a decent cause.
This is turning out to be one heck of a chess game and time seems to be of the essence. Of course, some nations are playing both sides of the board, unsure of how this will shake out. But China’s Ministry of Finance recently announced that the 57 founding members of AIIB have agreed upon the bank’s charter, which will be signed in a ceremony in Beijing at the end of June. The BRICS Bank (another IMF and World Bank rival) is set to follow by late July or early August. This means time might be running out for anything dollar based. That is unless, moves are made now.
Meanwhile, as discussed at length here, the US economy is declining rapidly. Some states are already in economic ruin. Over 30 states are running massive deficits. Recent studies show that our financial health has been overstated since 2000 and a record number of Americans are no longer in the workforce; the lowest it has been since 1977. In fact, the CBO reported recently that the Federal Government is taxing more, spending more, and running bigger deficits this year and our economy
only grew by two-tenths of 1 percent (recently revised) actually CONTRACTED 0.7% in the first quarter. And to top it off, some experts suggest over a 70% chance of another financial calamity in 2015. Not a good outlook.
Today we are faced with ultra-low interest rates, along with virtually stagnant real growth. The stock market is running extremely high on essentially very low volume and Janet Yellen is preaching the pros of high inflation. Never mind the ignorance of that position; we need to try understanding the motive. Maybe we can discover the question we need to ask by examining the actions being taken. How could you prevent total economic destruction while at the same time, slow down China? The TPP?
Never mind whether any of us actually believe this can really be done with things the way they are, this is an important question for you think about for a few reasons, but primarily because you live in the economy this will have profound effects on, and the money you currently use, seems to be the currency that will take the greatest hit when this all goes down. I’m not certain (because I haven’t read the bill) but I am guessing that the TPP is one last ditch effort to fend of the economic giant about to step on us. Perhaps the reason the government doesn’t want to discuss it, is because they know they can’t tell the public just how bad the economy is, and they sure don’t want to have to explain why we would have to subject ourselves to such a horrendous trade deal as a result.
Now, I do not think the TPP will work and I do not think it is a good idea. In fact, I think it’s just going to make things much worse. Furthermore, I will NEVER be for passing ANY bill without reading it first. That is an irresponsible and asinine position for anyone to accept and for anyone to ask of another. If the people want to read the bill (which we do) then we should be able to read the bill. Think about this for a moment; how sad is it that Congress has to actually create a bill, that demands that people be able to read a bill, before actually passing the bill? Our Representatives simply cannot know how to vote on our behalf, if we are not allowed to weigh in on the matter. It is downright unconstitutional. Yes, I know that is how it often goes, but that only furthers my point really.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I guess we will find out when it passes right? Or maybe we’ll luck out! There are some Democrats who are against this because they see the potential for more income inequality, and there are some Republicans that understand what this will do in regard to executive powers and national sovereignty. For you and me… I think it is best if we heed the warnings from all sides and demand exposure and transparency immediately.
Tick tock! Remember, finalization is expected by the end of 2015; maybe sooner. The name and several elements may change before passage, and it may appear to be defeated a time or two, but I would not declare victory until this idea is entirely dead in the water. Just my opinion of course.