Imagine. While some of us are working to curtail fracking, assure GMO labeling, promote various green and buy-local initiatives, protect Internet freedom, bolster labor rights, enforce banking regulations, behind our backs our president, Barack Obama, is working to make all those efforts moot.
I am not making this up, even if you haven’t heard of it yet.
It is the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact, only the TPP isn’t just a trade agreement. It slays safety regulations and labor protections, curtails communication freedoms, and re-writes domestic laws of the participating countries. It’s been called a mass assault on democracy and the biggest, most sinister corporate power grab yet.
The reason you haven’t heard of it is two-fold. All the negotiations, since 2008, have been going on behind thick closed doors and the major media outlets have apparently found it too hard to get a whiff and a sniff. Or, they’re in on it.
Why the secrecy? At least one Congressman, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who did manage to get a peek at a draft, as long as he promised not to reveal its contents, said it must be kept secret or the people would never stand for it.
But representatives of 600 major corporations, who are in on the negotiations, love it. That’s because, according to Kevin Reese, co-director of popularresistance.org, it gives major corporations unprecedented power.
Now, according to our U.S. Constitution, Congress has the authority to regulate trade, so why worry? Because, there’s a way to get around that and Obama is trying to use it.
Just this month (Sept.), the President pressured Congress to grant him extra-constitutional authority, known as “Fast Track,” to complete the TPP without congressional scrutiny.
“Fast Track” would have Congress voting up or down on the massive document without any power to discuss or amend any of it. This is an arcane procedure devised by Richard Nixon, according to Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach, “but that was when trade negotiations covered only real trade stuff.”
Wallach describes Fast Track as a “legislative luge run.” There have been trade agreements that underwent and survived congressional scrutiny, she said. “You only need Fast Track to shove something through Congress, something that is bad for the country.” She suggests all of us contact our Congressmen and Senators and urge them not to abrogate their authority over trade. So does the Green Shadow Cabinet.
People must do their own research on this because the major media outlets aren’t taking it on. There are sporadic articles, but where’s that New York Times or Washington Post thoroughness gone? TPP is a profoundly important matter, but those who want it — think any old sweat shop proprietor up to an including Monsanto — have succeeded in keeping it quiet. A Google alert on the topic for the past three or four months has shown most reports are coming from the foreign press and obscure websites, with some exceptions.
Last week TPP protestors dropped a banner from the Trade Building in Washington to protest the pact and its secret negotiations. The Post covered that – but didn’t really get into the issues.
So here’s a bit of what they’re neglecting to say:
ANYTHING THAT INTERFERES WITH PROFITS WILL BE FORBIDDEN
TPP will vaporize any law that interferes with making money. You might want to label the country of origin of a food item, for instance. Some Canadian beef got mad cow? No matter. They won’t label it Canadian. That would cut into the exporter’s profits. GMO? That would be discrimination. You prefer not to have your medicine from a Chinese factory. You won’t be able to know. Food and medicine that would formerly be blocked for not meeting our standards will have a red carpet.
Obama originally wanted to exempt tobacco regulations. Keep the warning labels. That has mostly gone by the wayside. Nations can now argue about tobacco regulations that hamper sales.
Doctors Without Borders has heard of TPP. Its members are doing the best they can to protest the plan. It promises to keep patents on medicines longer, which would make it harder to provide affordable drugs for impoverished countries and peoples.
One Michigan Congressman is working for a “Buy Local” law. It won’t be enforceable. That would be discrimination against the far off producer under the TPP. Who knows? Farmers Markets themselves might become illegal.