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March 23, 2014

My followers will recall that I have been blogging on the evils of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership for months (I call it the TTP for short), long before opposition to it became fashionable. It recently become a public matter when the president asked the Congress for “fast-track” negotiating authority, a power which expired in 2007 as negotiations for this long-pending proposed trade agreement started by George Bush were continued on into  the Obama administration. If the Congress gives him the power to fast-track, then the procedure (without public hearing and potential input and amendment) becomes greatly simplified. It works like this: The president asks for the authority, which he has asked for; then upon congressional authorization, he is then empowered to negotiate the final agreement IN SECRET before sending it to the Senate for an up-or-down vote and a filibuster-proof mere majority required for approval. It’s a yes or no deal, a bull-dozing greased skids operation, undemocratic, and the president should not only have not asked for such dictatorial approval; he should withdraw from any further negotiations leading to any such agreement at all. Negotiations for this agreement, as indicated, started under a Wall Street-friendly Bush Administration years ago, and now suddenly the president is facing an emergency and must have his secretly-negotiated trade pact subjected to “fast-track” and up-or-down procedure? What’s the rush? How have we managed to survive all these years without it? Could it be because this is a congressional election year and the candidates need gobs of Wall Street campaign funding in return for a vote to fast-track? Are two and two four? Does the sun come up in the east? Is the pope a Catholic?
Since negotiators meet here and there (most recently in Brussels) and we the people do not and cannot know what is being negotiated in our names, we are left with scant detail as to what is proposed to be in the final package. However, we (or at least I) know enough to know that I am opposed to the TTP altogether. It therefore follows that I am opposed to any “greased skid” up-or-down votes on such a trade treaty when we the people don’t know what is in it and never had any opportunity for input. Such a plan may be good for the bottom lines of the superrich and Wall Street, but we the unemployed and declining middle class would like to know what is in a trade agreement that may define our futures and that of our families and friends. We have seen these Wall Street and other superrich-funded trade treaties send millions of our jobs offshore and reduce wages in this country, and the fact that Wall Street and the superrich are for the TPP (and have the wherewithal to back in up in this fall’s congressional elections – another Citizens United greased-skid deal) is more than suspicious since their sole interest is in profit and not jobs for recession-weary ordinary Americans.
We are, of course, assured that this “free trade” agreement is not negotiated for the benefit of global corporations and their superrich investors (Wall Street banks, hedge funds etc.), but rather to eliminate tariffs. We are also told that the new agreement will strengthen labor and environmental standards and increase American exports. Where have we heard that song before? It was right before we destroyed our industrial base and started impoverishing our middle class as such treaties sent our jobs offshore en masse in the 1990s. All such Wall Street chatter is designed to soften our opposition to their newest means of profit making by global corporations and their superrich investors via the TPP. Omnibus trade treaties are unnecessary for adjustments of tariffs and environmental and labor concerns. Those can be addressed by free-standing nation-to-nation agreements and can be enforced without all the additional money-making baggage of a TPP. It gets worse. Part II considers the TPP’s ISDS. Stay tuned. GERALD E


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