Harry Reid official portrait
(image by Wikipedia)
One of President Barack Obama's top priorities ever since he entered the White House has been to achieve two international trade deals, one with Europe, and the other with Asia, that will enable international corporations to override the laws in participating nations and thus to provide ultimate corporate control over regulations concerning pesticide-use, food-safety, global-warming abatement, collective bargaining, and other such matters.
On Wednesday 29 January 2014, the leader of congressional Democrats, Harry Reid -- the U.S. Senate Majority Leader -- came out publicly saying, "I'm against fast track." This means that unlike the international-trade treaties that were rammed through Congress under George W. Bush, Obama's trade deals won't be -- and that they are thus now practically dead.
Fast track trade promotion authority (TPA) enables an international-trade deal to be presented to Congress for an up-or-down vote without any amendments and without any possibility of being filibustered. TPA was first introduced in 2002; and, in order for it to be able to be imposed under the law, the Majority Leaders in both the House and the Senate must introduce the implementing bill to their respective bodies. This means that, if Harry Reid in the Senate declines to introduce TPA to the Senate, then Obama's extremely controversial TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) and TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) are both virtually dead.
Harry Reid, in announcing his decision, said, "I think everyone would be well advised just to not push this right now," which, translated, means: Unless and until President Obama rewrites major provisions of each of these two deals, both of them are, indeed, dead.
The question, now, therefore, is: How likely will Obama do that? The deals haven't yet even been finalized, and the leaders of some democratic nations are demanding that Obama's provisions for international corporations to be empowered to override democratically passed legislation in their countries be removed before they would sign it. So, Obama's plan for international corporate control of regulations within the participating countries is now being opposed both by his own Party at home, and by the leaders of some democratic countries whose signatures would also be needed if the deals were to become law.
In other words: It's back to the drawing boards for President Obama, on one of his top priorities as the U.S. President. And, given how late this is happening in his very unpopular Presidency, that means there almost certainly won't be any TPP or TTIP, at least not while he is leading this country. If it will be done at all, it will happen under the next President.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 , and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity .