House and Senate Democrats have announced their discontent with President Obama over his secret dealings with corporations regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Hopefully, this discontent will kill the trade deal which Noam Chomsky has dubbed as an “assault” on the working class.
President Obama kept most Congressional members in the dark about the harrowing TPP. Negotiations have been held behind closed doors with only corporations and their lobbyists made privy to the drafting and design of the trade deal. This blatant lack of transparency has agitated many in Congress and has created a threat to the TPP.
“This is a big problem now,” said the House Budget Committee’s leading Democrat, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD.). “There is inadequate engagement on the substance of what will be in an agreement or out of an agreement.”
Very few politicians on Capitol Hill support a fast-tracking bill to push the TPP through the legislative process more easily. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 and was met with massive, interparty opposition. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is one of the bill’s cosponsors.
Baucus’ bill was designed to let the administration present unamendable trade deals to Congress, where members have to either “take it or leave it.” The TPP would be considered one of those non-negotiable trade deals. No other Senate Democrat has offered any endorsement of the bill.
However, most Congressional members are opposing the TPP’s passage. Democrats oppose because the president excluded his party from open negotiations and Republicans will oppose the trade deal mostly because it has Obama’s name attached. This full-flanking opposition to the TPP is the much-desired place in which many hope to see Obama because the president strongly supports the TPP. The TPP’s death in Congress would be a victory for Americans, no matter who voted and why.
Even pro-free-trade Democrats like Rep. Earl Blumenauer have criticized and opposed Baucus’ fast-track bill.
“I think it’s a mistake. I think it’s going to make it very hard to pass, and frankly, I don’t think it should [pass],” said Blumenauer. “I’m a little disappointed that something’s dropped that was never discussed with Democrats in the House. As I understand it, it wasn’t actually discussed with Democrats in the Senate.”
The TPP is a “trojan horse” for corporations that masquerades itself as a pro-job, pro-economy trade deal that will bolster foreign trade relations and activities. It’s quite the opposite. Provisions of the TPP will lighten restrictions on domestic and foreign corporations and grant them a certain sovereignty as they will be allowed to sue foreign governments should there by any public-interest laws in place that corporations think will harm their profits.
Of the 29 provisions in the TPP, 24 outline corporate protections. The TPP undermines regulations of Wall Street, eases the process of labor outsourcing, and even encroaches upon internet privacy for citizens. The provisions have only been made public because of forced transparency made possible by Wikileaks.
Obama appears to have hit a serious snag on both sides of the aisle. The TPP has even given a common enemy to progressives and Tea Partiers alike. If politicians on the Beltway want true bipartisanship for a change, killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be the truest.