Thursday, January 29, 2015

Two for T

For more than a year, I've been hearing rumblings about the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a troubling new international trade deal being negotiated in secret by the Obama Administration. Today I learned that the administration is also negotiating another deal called TTIP which sounds just as bad.

First, the TPP:

In late 2013, Wikileaks has found and released the TPP chapter on intellectual property, and it doesn't look good. The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that argues that the deal will seriously limit users' rights to information and Internet freedom.

In early 2014, Wikileaks also released the full chapter on the environment. Kate Sheppard of the Huffington Post argues that unlike other parts of the agreement, it lacks any enforcement measures.

To make matters worse, President Obama is pushing for fast-track authority that would give him leverage to push trade deals through Congress with a minimum of interference. As Democratic activist Sally Kohn explains it:
Trade promotion authority is a new synonym for "fast-track authority" which would give the president authority to negotiate international trade agreements on his own. Congress could veto such deals, but could not amend or filibuster them. Fast-track trade authority removes important checks and balances not only in our legislative process but in our economy as a whole.
For a quick, entertaining explanation of what the TPP would do, see this video by former Clinton Administration labor secretary Robert Reich. Reich describes the TPP as "the worst trade deal you've never heard of."

But wait, there's another one that's just as bad.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is gaining a lot of attention in Great Britain,. One prime concern is likely effects on their National Health System. They don't want the NHS to come under the control of US healthcare corporations. And who could blame them?

But as Josh Bivens and Dean Baker point out, both trade deals are likely to have bad effects on ordinary people in the United States as well.

Whatever warm, fuzzy feelings I had about President Obama's recent State of the Union address have vanished amidst my realization the president is determined to push through TPP and TTIP with a minimum of public debate.