Friday, January 10, 2014

Stopping TPP In Its Tracks

Even though the fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is now being described as shaky, it won't hurt to call your Congress Critter to finally stop this abomination once and for all.

 Public Citizen provides a convenient form to help you contact your reps, urging them to deny President Obama his so-called "fast track authority" to approve a corporation-friendly pact that has little to do with free trade and everything to do with giving entertainment conglomerates control of the Internet, giving multinationals the right to sue sovereign governments in kangaroo courts, allowing Big Tobacco to spread the cigarette habit to poor kids in third world countries, fixing the high price of life-saving drugs, and loosening food safety regulations. And those are just a few of the leaked parts we actually know about.

Max Baucus (D-UnitedHealthCare) and Dave Camp (R-House Ways to Be Mean Committee) have introduced legislation that would ram the fast-track authority through without giving our reps the ability to even read what's in it or attach their own amendments. Debate on final passage would also be limited, lest too many questions be asked. And so far, at least 150 Democrats have vowed to oppose it. Last fall, they wrote to the president, complaining about being left out of the negotiating loop.

But just because our reps are refusing to play along at the moment doesn't mean they won't play along in the future. Life sure has a funny way of getting the champions of democracy in a back room where they're urged to "embrace the suck" if they have any prayer of getting campaign funds from their party. If these people went home for Christmas without giving extended aid to the unemployed, I wouldn't put anything past them.

So call them. Write to them. Take nothing for granted.


Jay - Ottawa said...

After sending a Public Citizen-inspired email to my Congressman (a Democrat), I received this off-target noncommittal boilerplate reply.

"As you know, the TPP is a proposed regional free trade agreement among the United States and 11 other countries that border the Pacific Ocean. President Bush notified Congress of his intention to negotiate with the existing TPP Partners in September of 2008 and President Obama decided to continue the negotiations when he took office. The TPP is currently in its 19th round of negotiations and there is no final agreement from the participants as of yet.

"The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, also known as "fast track") is the authority Congress grants to the president to enter into certain reciprocal trade agreements, and to have the trade agreements considered under expedited legislative procedures. Congress has granted the president "fast track" authority for other treaties, agreeing to consider trade agreements in a timely manner and to vote on them without amendment, provided the president meets certain statutory negotiating objectives and consults with Congress on the deal. Trade agreements which are negotiated using the "fast track" approach require approval from both houses of Congress. The "fast track" authority expired in July of 2007, and certain executive branch officials have expressed an interest in renewing it to pass the TPP. Although no legislation currently exists to extend TPA, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind should it come up in the House of Representatives for a vote.

"I firmly believe in safeguarding New York jobs and in exercising strict oversight of trade agreements to ensure that they are benefiting our community. Please know that I will continue to keep the best interests of Central New York in mind when reviewing any future, proposed trade agreements.

"Again, thank you for contacting me. I am honored to serve as your representative in Congress. In addition, I encourage you to visit my website at to sign-up for my e-newsletter updates and for more information. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on this or any other issue. My door is always open and your feedback is important to me."

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Oh, Wow! I got a similar letter back from Maria Cantwell, my Congress critter from Washington state. She went on to say how Washington has benefited from foreign trade and how Obama is doing his best to work for jobs. Jobs in what country? I am asking myself.

I do HOPE that the TPP is going to crash and burn but I wouldn't write it off as dead yet. I am sure that the corporations who are writing the deal are expecting to gain like a gazillion dollars from it - so they aren't going to go quietly into the night.

Thanks for keeping us posted on this issue, Karen. You and Moyers - I wouldn't know what the hell is going on in my country without the handful of intrepid journalists who refuse to bow to power.


James F Traynor said...

Yes, it seems inevitable, struggle though we may against it. I continue to send occasional emails, make calls. I just ignore the answers and continue to squeal like a pig about to be turned into pulled pork.