And you thought the election of 2014 was about putting a stop to Obama’s rule! Suckers:
u need to tell me what’s wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago,” a frustrated President Barack Obama recently complained about criticisms of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). He’s right. The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That’s by design—anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I’ve actually read the TPP text provided to the government’s own advisors, and I’ve given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can’t share my criticisms with you.
I can tell you that Elizabeth Warren is right about her criticism of the trade deal. We should be very concerned about what’s hidden in this trade deal—and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice.
The text of the TPP, like all trade deals, is a closely guarded secret. That fact makes a genuine public debate impossible and should make robust debate behind closed doors all the more essential. But the ability of TPP critics like me to point out the deal’s many failings is limited by the government’s surprising and unprecedented refusal to make revisions to the language in the TPP fully available to cleared advisors…
Bill Clinton didn’t operate like this. During the debate on NAFTA, as a cleared advisor for the Democratic leadership, I had a copy of the entire text in a safe next to my desk and regularly was briefed on the specifics of the negotiations, including counterproposals made by Mexico and Canada. During the TPP negotiations, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has never shared proposals being advanced by other TPP partners. Today’s consultations are, in many ways, much more restrictive than those under past administrations.
All advisors, and any liaisons, are required to have security clearances, which entail extensive paperwork and background investigations, before they are able to review text and participate in briefings. But, despite clearances, and a statutory duty to provide advice, advisors do not have access to all the materials that a reasonable person would need to do the job. The negotiators provide us with “proposals” but those are merely initial proposals to trading partners. We are not allowed to see counter-proposals from our trading partners. Often, advisors are provided with updates indicating that the final text will balance all appropriate stakeholder interests but we frequently receive few additional details beyond that flimsy assurance.
Meanwhile, of course, the loathsome Mitch McConnell and the other GOP collaborationists in Congress are doing their best to push this un-American beast through; that he’s joined by Paul Ryan, who once had a bright political future, is both saddening and puzzling.
Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday the Senate will pass “fast-track” authority to negotiate major trade deals this week, despite opposition to the measure from many of President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats. “Yes, we’ll pass it. We’ll pass it later this week,” McConnell said in an interview with ABC.
The trade issue has made unlikely allies of the Republican majority leader and the Democratic president. McConnell said on Sunday that Obama has “done an excellent job” on the trade issue. The Senate voted last week to consider the fast-track measure, two days after Democrats had blocked debate on the bill, which would clear the way for a 12-nation Pacific trade agreement.
The Republican representative Paul Ryan said on CNN that he was confident the measure would pass the House. “We will have the votes,” said Ryan, who is chairman of the House ways and means committee. “We’re doing very well. We’re gaining a lot of steam and momentum.”
President Barack Obama’s signature Asian trade push cleared another hurdle in the U.S. Senate on Thursday after a knife-edge vote moved the White House closer to gaining the power to speed trade deals through Congress. Senators voted 62-38 to give Obama a major victory and set up a speedy decision on the “fast-track” trade negotiating authority the president needs to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. TPP is seen as central to U.S. efforts to counter China’s increasing economic muscle.
Thirteen of 44 Democrats supported the legislation through the second Senate vote. Some supported moving ahead with fast track after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, assured them he would set a vote next month on a bill to renew the Export-Import Bank’s charter, according to leading Democratic senators. The charter is due to expire at the end of June. They were joined by 49 of 54 Republicans, giving supporters of the legislation more than the 60 votes needed to proceed in the 100-member Senate.
In other words, a complete cave. Kentucky voters, you should have elected Alison Lundergan Grimes.
The pact is the biggest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement freed up trade between the United States, Canada and Mexico. More than two decades later, many blame that deal for factory closures and job losses and see the TPP as producing more of the same.
Remember: Obama sees this as another power grab; the McConnell Republicans see it as a way of serving their Chamber of Commerce masters. When you lose your job down the road, you’ll know whom to blame. Your freedom? That’s already gone.