Congress is inching closer to giving President Obama “fast-track” authority on approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal — a trade deal that labor unions, environmentalists, human rights groups, and politicians have not been shy expressing their opposition over.
The deal has mostly been negotiated in secret, and what little information about it has been leaked has not been promising. The TPP would give corporations license to move millions of jobs overseas, attack environmental and health laws, and would give transnational corporations “the ability to bypass US courts and challenge US government action and inaction before international tribunals authorized to order US taxpayer compensation to the firms,” according to The Hill.
In other words, the American tax payers would be on the hook for damages awarded to these giant corporations.
Even President Obama has admitted that, in the wake of trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, and KORUS, opponents of the TPP are right to question the deal.
“Trade deals have not always been good for American manufacturing,” he said during a meeting with small business executives. “There have been times where, because the trade deal was one way, American workers didn’t benefit and somebody else did.”
As Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers, wrote in a piece for the Huffington Post, the deal’s detractors shouldn’t trust President Obama or those secretly negotiating its terms.
“There’s no trust when 32 percent of American steel mill production is idled and more than 6,000 steelworkers are laid off or warned of impending furloughs because of unchecked imports of illegally subsidized steel from China,” wrote Gerard.
“There’s no trust when free traders promised workers that NAFTA would generate hundreds of thousands of jobs, but as it turned out, those jobs were poverty-wage positions in Mexico created when American manufacturers took advantage of NAFTA provisions to close American factories and move them across the border.”
Earlier this year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) pointed out in a piece for the Washington Post that the TPP will benefit the “biggest multinational corporations in the world” and Wall Street.
“This deal would give protections to international corporations that are not available to United States environmental and labor groups,” Warren told Politico. “Multinational corporations are increasingly realizing that this is an opportunity to gut US regulations they don’t like.”
She, along with Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Ed Markey (D-MA), also sent a letter to US Trade Ambassador Michael Froman, warning that the TPP could derail Wall Street reform efforts.
“We are concerned that the [TPP] could make it harder for Congress and regulatory agencies to prevent future financial crises,” the letter read. “With millions of families still struggling to recover from the last financial crisis and the Great Recession that followed, we cannot afford a trade deal that undermines the government’s ability to protect the American economy.”
Outside Wall Street and Big Business, the TPP would be a disaster. Corporations would have free reign to dismantle regulations — both financial and environmental. Millions of jobs would be lost, and the economy would take a huge hit as a result. President Obama needs to abandon this terrible plan, and soon.