Don’t ram TPP treaty through on a fast track

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a proposed treaty being negotiated by representatives of the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations, which would create international tribunals with authority to override laws and court decisions that interfered with corporate rights.

hulk-tppThe treaty is being negotiated in secret, but some alarming provisions have leaked out.  Corporations would have allowed to ask for damages from unfair health and environmental regulations that cost them “expected profits.”  Food safety laws could be overridden if they exceeded “international standards.”  The U.S. Department of Energy would lose the right to regulate exports of natural gas.

Even if I’m wrong and some of these ideas are good, Congress ought to have the final say on these issues, and ought to be able to change policy to meet changing circumstances.

In order to get the treaty through, President Obama will need “fast track” authority, which limits debate, creates an accelerated time frame and requires an up-and-down vote on the treaty with no amendments.

Asking for an up-and-down vote is reasonable; foreign nations shouldn’t be expected to negotiate twice. But the limited debate and accelerated time frame only make sense if the Senate is fully informed about the treaty in advance.  In this case, the draft treaty and the U.S. negotiating position have been withheld from Congress—although not from some 600 corporate representatives who are providing expert advice.

At present the government does not have “fast track” authority.  It lapsed in 2007.  It should not be renewed just to get TPP through.  Even if I’m wrong, and TPP is a good idea, Congress ought to be able to fully understand it before enacting it.   Americans should write their Senators and ask them to vote against “fast track” authority.

LINKS

Fast track (trade) by Wikipedia, a good explanation of the procedure.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not about free trade.  It’s a corporate coup d’etat—against us by Jim Hightower for the Hightower Lowdown. This is a good summary of the main objections to the TPP.

MSF Open Letter to TPP Countries: Don’t Trade Away Health by officers of Doctors Without Borders.

When foreign investors sue the state by Martin Khor for the Third World Network. This is a good summary of the treaty enforcement provisions.

Congressional Research Office Says US Is Negotiating TPP as if Fast Track Authority Still Exists by Carolina Rossini for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The Coming Fast Track Trade Outrage by Dave Johnson for Campaign for America’s Future.

Urge Congress to Stop Obama’s Secret Trade Deals by Food and Water Watch. This contains a draft letter to be mailed or e-mailed to a Senator.

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