Thursday, June 2, 2016

Look for President Obama to Push TPP This Year

Now that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the likely and presumptive nominees respectively, we can take stock of the TPP. Both have come out on record as opposing it, which means that the pressure is on the Obama Administration to get it passed this summer. And the guns have come out blazing for it, including Roger Cohen. He says it would be a kick in the teeth for countries like Vietnam if we were to reject the TPP.

His whole column is an appeal to fear. We must pass this piece of corporate welfare, or the Big Bad Chinese will walk all over us. The TPP was written by corporations for corporations and is a kick in the teeth against the American worker. It will accelerate the exporting of jobs and will continue to gut economies like Ohio’s and Pennsylvania’s. Public confidence in government institutions will continue to dwindle, more and more people will flock under the banner of Trump, and our sovereignty as a country will be eroded. It was written in massive secrecy, which means that the product that came out simply can’t be trusted.

The TPP would also be a kick in the teeth for this area. A few years ago, the Energizer Plant in Maryville closed as jobs were moved to Mexico. If the TPP were to pass, expect even more plants in the area to close and move elsewhere. And there was a lot of trouble finding a buyer for the old building, which meant it sat empty for the last few years. Hundreds of thousands of dollars on the building were unpaid at one point. If TPP were to pass, expect even more plants in the area to close.

There is a much greater danger of our sovereignty being eroded by corporations suing the government because of what they see as excessive regulation than there is from the Chinese. It will twist the notion of sovereignty on its head; corporations will be able to tell the government what to do rather than the other way around.

There is nothing in and of itself wrong with free trade. As Cohen rightly notes, free trade reduces tensions around the world thanks to the reduced barriers. It was put in place, especially after World War II, to provide another mechanism by which conflicts can be settled. But when they do not sufficiently protect jobs and wages, then they won’t fly.

The TPP, however, plays off the working man against the farmer (who would benefit from increased markets and demand). That is exactly what the corporate police state wants, to play off working people against each other. I accept that there are better protections than the last time, but they are not good enough. The AFL-CIO, which goes over these agreements for a living, opposes this agreement.

The final TPP will not create jobs, protect the environment or ensure safe imports. Rather, it appears modeled after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a free trade agreement that boosts global corporate profits while leaving working families behind.

They note that the 1% call this the “gold standard,” which means that if this goes through, even more jobs will be exported and lost down the road through more such agreements which only benefit the rich and powerful. The TTIP comes to mind. A strong trade agreement is one which our unions, which have done more to raise the standard of living in this country than anyone, can get on board with. Instead, it is modeled after NAFTA.

We have had differences with China ever since the Cold War started. So, why all of a sudden is there a sudden urgency to get this done? We have trade agreements with most of the countries on this list. This is how the 1% operates — manufacture a crisis like China and their island building, which is designed to scare people into supporting a bad trade deal which will accelerate the loss of jobs in this country to Mexico and other places.

And if people are so concerned with China dumping goods into the US, the TPP would encourage it.

Nor is it obvious why would not have had stronger rules of origin requirements. As the TPP is written, China will be able to hugely increase the amount of goods it can export to the United States tariffs free by having them assembled into products in one of the TPP countries. This is not to argue that we should be looking to construct a trade deal to marginalize China, but if that were the point, the TPP would probably not be that deal.

So, not only does the TPP fail to marginalize China, it helps them since nothing is stopping their businessmen from moving factories into TPP countries and exporting them here. This is more proof that the TPP is in place not to deter China, but to increase the profits of multinational corporations who are answerable to nobody.

And all I can say is, if this passes, don’t get sick. This is because the TPP lengthens patents for drugs, allowing Big Pharma corporations to make more profits from them. Again, profits over human life. The President should tear up the TPP and start all over again, this time with labor and environmental interests with an equal seat at the table.

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