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The Trans-Pacific Trade Scam

Despite what President Obama says, the TPP does indeed create a corporate end run around our laws.

Jim Hightower

Last spring, President Barack Obama got downright crabby about people criticizing the mammoth Trans-Pacific Partnership he’s trying to sell to Congress and the public.

More and more Americans are learning that the TPP would undermine America’s very sovereignty, giving multinational corporations direct access to secretive tribunals that could roll back any consumer, labor, or environmental laws that global corporate giants don’t like.

Yet an irked Obama denies that this is true: “They’re making this stuff up,” he cried. “No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.”

Perhaps he was misinformed. Perhaps he hasn’t actually read the deal he’s pushing. Or — dare we say it? — perhaps he’s lying.

Fast Tracking the TPP, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Fast Tracking the TPP, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

In unmistakable language, the TPP does indeed create the private, corporate-run mechanism for changing our laws. Moreover, surely Obama knows that foreign corporations are already doing this indirectly.

Through little-known provisions in past trade scams, powerful corporations in other countries have pressured their governments to challenge our laws in similar tribunals.

From Canada to Malaysia, many countries have — on behalf of their corporate powers — successfully forced Congress and U.S. agencies to weaken or eliminate everything from environmental protections to consumer right-to-know laws.

In fact, this very year, Obama’s own administration has been told by the World Trade Organization that it must alter or repeal America’s laws on labeling foreign agricultural products.

This TPP flimflam would elevate profiteering corporations to the legal status of sovereign nations, empowering them to sue directly in rigged corporate courts “to force us to change our laws.” Obama knows this—and if he doesn’t, he should.

Either way, it destroys his presidential credibility and moral authority to keep pushing this giveaway of our people’s sovereignty.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, and a member of the Public Citizen board. OtherWords.org.

  • OldTulsan

    The U.S. has endured 35 years of “free” trade policies, supported by members of BOTH parties…

    In 1979, Ronald Reagan started the idea of a North American Union, which led to NAFTA

    In 1992, President George H.W. Bush ceremonially signed NAFTA, after his administration negotiated NAFTA, along with Mexican President Salinas and Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney. His administration conducted the NAFTA negotiations.

    In 1993, President Clinton signed NAFTA after it was ratified.

    In 2004, the Bush administration (N. Gregory Mankiw) stated that the offshoring of blue-colla­r AND white-coll­ar jobs would enrich the U.S.

    In 2005, the administration of George W. Bush gave us CAFTA

    In 2011, the Obama administration selected Jeff “I’m a nut on China” Immelt, GE’s CEO, a high priest of the offshoring cult, to be the chairman of the administration’s jobs commission , which never had a meeting. It was disbanded on January 31, 2013, when its charter expired.

    In 2012, President Obama AND Mitt Romney both supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, described by the Congressional Progressive Caucus as NAFTA on steroids.

    As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement

    Get ready for Ross Perot’s “giant sucking sound” to get louder.