Public Citizen on the Trans Pacific Partnership

tpp-nafta-on-steroids-infographicSource: Public Citizen.

Top congressional leaders, including Senators Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, the chair and vice-chair of the Senate finance committee, and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, chair of the House ways and means committee, announced their support for “fast track” approval of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

This would mean that the House would have 60 days to discuss this complicated agreement, and the Senate an additional 30 days, after which they would have to vote the agreement up or down, without amendment.

But the fact that the leaders support fast track doesn’t mean it’s a done deal.  The procedure still must go before the House and Senate as a whole.

I think the TPP is a bad idea, but, even it were a good idea, it deserves more discussion than fast track would allow.

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10 Responses to “Public Citizen on the Trans Pacific Partnership”

  1. whungerford Says:

    Reportedly,the proposed fast-track deal includes a mechanism that would revoke fast-track authority should U.S. trade negotiators fail to meet certain objectives, including promoting human rights, improving labor conditions and safeguarding the environment

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    • philebersole Says:

      Anything that would allow a more free and full debate on the TPP would be a good thing. But, according to Public Citizen, there is less to this mechanism than meets the eye.

      http://www.citizen.org/documents/press-release-fast-track-introduced-april-2015.pdf

      Changes in the debate mechanism would not remove my objections to the TPP which is an enactment by governments of certain pro-corporate proposals into a binding international agreement.

      What I would have liked to see is 12 governments making an agreement to set common rules for corporations regarding labor standards, public health, environmental protection and greenhouse gas emissions, and a tribunal to penalize countries that fail to enforce these public interest rules.

      What we have instead is 12 governments agreeing to submit to rules advocated by corporations, and a tribunal to penalize countries that go too far in regulating corporations.

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    • philebersole Says:

      Another important point about fast track authority is that it would apply not only to the TPP, but to future trade agreement the Obama administration and its successors would bring before Congress.

      A previous fast track authority expired in 2007 and Congress at that time declined to renew it.

      It is good that the provisions you mention provide a way to exist fast track, but I don’t see the need for it in the first place.

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  2. marblenecltr Says:

    We were lied into NAFTA and other policies needed to destroy our great nation for the sake of promoters of NWO/UN tyranny and depopulation and enrichment of bankers prospering through imposing massive debts. Those debts cannot be paid because of lack of industrial power and so cause default and “collateral damage” (confiscation). Historically and currently, bankers lead nations into war so that people will not only greatly enrich the lenders but cause the borrowers to needlessly slaughter each other and destroy their lands. Then, those still left alive will then have to borrow more money to rebuild their countries.

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  3. whungerford Says:

    President Wilson wouldn’t agree to Congress amending the Versailles Treaty which he negotiated because the amended treaty would need to be renegotiated with all the parties, a daunting task. For the same reason it works best for the administration to negotiate trade treaties which can be approved by Congress or not. An amended treaty wouldn’t likely be acceptable to the other parties which would make success unlikely if not impossible.

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    • philebersole Says:

      I agree with you that treaties and international agreements should not be amended after they are negotiated.

      If 12 countries could amend an agreement after it is negotiated, then reaching a final agreement would be virtually impossible.

      My objection to the fast track procedure is that it prevents the full and free debate that is needed on a complex matter.

      Lack of the fast track procedure does not prevent approval of a trade agreement. The North American Free Trade Agreement was approved without fast track.

      Likewise the fast track procedure does not guarantee an agreement will be approved. Congress would still have the power to reject the TPP agreement even if fast track is appproved.

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    • philebersole Says:

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a good explanation of why fast track is a bad idea.

      https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/04/fasttrack-bill-legitimize-white-house-secrecy-and-clear-way-anti-user

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      • whungerford Says:

        EFF writes: “With Fast Track, lawmakers will be shirking their constitutional authority over trade policy, … lawmakers would only have a small window of time to conduct hearings over trade provisions and give a yea-or-nay vote on ratification of the agreement without any ability to amend it before they bind the United States to its terms.”

        Yet Congress has no Constitutional authority to negotiate treaties.

        Lawmakers would have enough time to read and understand the treaty–if they feel they didn’t have enough time they could vote against it.

        There is no need for Congress to amend the treaty–amendments would likely be fatal if they were allowed as the other 12 parties could demand the right to make amendments.

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      • philebersole Says:

        I agree that it is too late to try to amend the TPP agreement and that international agreements should not be modified by legislators once they are agreed to by negotiators.
        Correction: Actually not too late because some provisions are under negotiation.

        The point I think the EFF is making is that Congress should have the ability to give input into future treaties and agreements when they are in the process of being negotiated, and that this would not be given under the fast track authority that is being proposed.

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      • whungerford Says:

        Senator Wyden reportedly “worked for months to craft a deal that would allow “fast-track” status for the 12-nation TPP, as long as the Obama administration consults Congress. Wyden says those provisions will give Congress needed input without allowing members to carve up the deal with amendments.” Reasonable persons might find Wyden’s provisions inadequate, but it is wrong to deny that they exist.

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