During his presidential run in 2008, Barack Obama made himself appear as a populist candidate; one who would act in the very best interests of the average American. Obama promised stricter Wall Street regulation and consumer protection. He promised protection for whistleblowers. He promised vast job creation and a stronger middle class. He promised change.
However, nothing has much changed and the provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “trade deal” reveal Obama as more of a job-killing, corporate marionette. We are now forced to ask the question: Has Obama lost control or has he been defrauding the American public from day one?
The TPP trade deal is a “corporate trojan horse” with corporate-friendly provisions that even overshadow those of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA was passed 20 years ago during the Clinton Administration and was meant to lubricate foreign trade with lowered tariffs and eased foreign trade barriers. NAFTA’s true effect was that it limited corporate regulation and gave incentives to corporations that outsourced American work to low-wage countries. In the process, it destroyed American manufacturing.
Should there be any regulation that companies felt would interfere with profits, they could challenge the regulation before trade tribunals and demand government compensation over such regulation. NAFTA eventually killed millions of American jobs, created a $181 billion trade deficit with Mexico and Canada, and resulted in over $360 million of government compensation to corporations over policy disputes, policies designed for public interest. The TPP proves to have more devastating implications.
The TPP has been secretly negotiated for five years. The public was restricted access to its provisions and even Congress was only allowed very limited access. Much like with Clinton and NAFTA, Obama is wanting to spearhead the TPP through Congress. No hearings, no Congressional deliberation, just a straight up-or-down vote.
There are 29 so-called “trade” provisions in the TPP. But only five actually focus on trade, and the other 24 were designed for corporate protectionism. The protections via foreign tribunals would liken corporations to their own, individual nations with the right to govern themselves freely as such.
The TPP benefits Wall Street banks and undermines regulations that are paramount to economic and consumer protections. The trade deal nullifies transaction taxes designed to combat financial speculators. It would destroy the firewall between consumer banking and investment banking and block the Glass-Steagall firewall from reinstatement. American financial regulation could potentially be all but dismantled, as the TPP reinforces “too-big-to-fail.”
Corporations are guaranteed sweetheart deals regarding labor outsourcing. The TPP limits the cost and risk associated with U.S. factory relocations to low-wage countries. If the corporation’s plans violate any foreign public interest laws, it can sue foreign governments by way of an international tribunal. The company can also demand compensation from foreign governments over policies that it believes would disrupt their projected profits. This right is reciprocal.
Foreign investors and corporations can sidestep American laws and sue the U.S. government if they felt that our laws undermined their projected profits. Essentially, taxpayer money would be syphoned to pay for an unnecessary reason. Recent statistics illustrate that such suits between companies and foreign countries is increasing. Altogether, since 1999, investor attacks on international governments increased 460 percent. Governments have awarded corporations about $365 million with $13 billion in compensation pending.
Large drug companies would be able to monopolize pharmaceutical market prices as TPP patent extensions would enable Big Pharma to stifle generic drug companies’ market share by prolonging generic drugs’ initial off-market time. This monopolization would create a lopsided drug market and cause patients to pay astronomical amounts of money for potentially life-saving medication.
The trade deal would bring new life to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Corporations would be granted copyright protection for 120 years and free information would be commodified as trading information from paid sites would incur fines upon users. Internet service providers would be given excessive powers, as well. The TPP grants ISPs the right to monitor user activity, arbitrarily remove content, and outright cut off internet access.
Obama promised change, but rather than just more of the same, the picture has actually gotten worse and will continue that way with the TPP. A once-thought champion of the average American conducted backdoor deals that benefit corporations and are a detriment to the very people he promised to help and protect. Therefore, is Obama a fraud?
Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.