Op-Ed

Congress should reject Trans-Pacific trade deal

Joy Arnold
Joy Arnold

We are the “we the people,” right?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal says, “No.”

Have we the people made a decision to resign ourselves to completely turning over our government to multinational corporations? Are we going to pretend that because we are allowed to vote we live in a democracy?

It is crucial to pose this question loudly because Congress is about to finally deal with the TPP. Maybe we should have been in the streets over this a year or more ago, but should we do nothing?

What’s it all about, anyway? Certainly the mainstream media has not informed us. The public who know have had to search out information on the Internet. Perhaps the best source has been Public Citizen, though there are others.

From them we learn of the first concern: the secrecy in which the agreement was negotiated. While 500 corporate representatives were involved, our elected representatives and the press were shut out.

Through five years of negotiations, until the Nov. 5 official release, we had to rely on leaks to learn anything about it. The final version is by some estimations worse than we expected. The 2,000-plus page document can be found at the website for the Office of U.S. Trade Representative.

It is unrealistic to expect the public to read such a creation; at the same time, should we take at face value what our president tells us it will do? Many who did that with North American Free Trade Agreement learned that is probably not a prudent decision, even many who support the president on most issues.

We do not expect a rigorous debate on the floors of the House or Senate, because they’ve already agreed to the process of “fast tracking” which will not allow amendments. No amendments to a document crafted by the corporations it will supposedly govern. That is, in any sense of the word, abdication of duty.

So, we turn to organizations with staffs that do read and analyze just so we know what, absent a revolutionary “no” vote in Congress, is going to be law over much more than trade. A fractional list of its provisions tells us it:

▪ Subjects a U.S. president’s decision to forbid an investment on national security grounds to investor-state challenge, even if based on a recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.

▪ Rolls back already weak environmental protections and facilitates increased fracking.

▪ Encourages the extreme financial deregulation that spurred the 2008 financial crisis.

▪ Negates our bipartisan 2007 agreement on medicine reforms and requires patent term extensions and marketing exclusivity for new uses and forms of old drugs that will contribute to preventable suffering and death.

▪ Limits governmental rights to negotiate pharmaceutical and medical device prices.

▪ Undermines Internet freedom and privacy, tipping the balance away from users and the public interest, impacting most adversely students, teachers, librarians, researchers, hobbyists, journalists and whistleblowers.

▪ Lowers already weak labor standards, especially due to side agreements with Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

▪ Requires the federal government to treat foreign bidders like U.S. bidders, prohibiting such job-creating policies as “Buy American.”

▪ Prioritizes international food trade, protects GMOs and allows food-safety oversight only in conjunction with trade expansion.

▪ Creates a private tribunal to judge suits brought by investor states (multinational corporations) against constitutional governments.

▪ Undermines how governments may regulate the service sector, such as public utilities, transportation, education and more.

Why would people elected to represent the best interests of the people abdicate their responsibilities? They want the money these corporations provide their campaigns and the benefits of their favor.

Join Central Kentucky Move to Amend and the Council for Peace and Justice at the Library’s Main Branch, at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 30 when we consider how we can register our objections to this most recent abdication of their constitutionally delineated authority.

Joy Arnold of Midway is chair of the Central Kentucky Move to Amend.

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