Then there are the laws that we dream our government might enact that the TPP would prevent, such as reasonable regulation of Wall Street. Under the TPP a government could not ban the toxic derivatives and other risky financial "products" that helped crash the economy. A firewall could not be put back in place between different types of financial institutions. Senator Elizabeth Warren wants to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, arguing that it prevented economic crashes for a half century from the 30s through the 80s. The TPP would forbid it. A huge movement that I've been working with wants to impose a Robin Hood tax, a tax on financial transactions. Some nations' governments have begun to agree. The TPP would forbid it. If our government creates and then abides by the TPP it will be asked for more bankster bailouts. If it creates and does not abide by the TPP, corporate tribunals will make it pay the bailouts as punishment for imposing regulations. Our government is doing this to itself because it is broken. Elections are broken. Communications are broken. Secrecy is out of control. Whistleblowers are persecuted. Bribery is institutionalized. Parties have replaced branches. And a culture of shortsighted greed and subservience has supplanted anything resembling statesmanship.
The TPP will, as the flyer for this event stated:
- Prevent effective regulation of Wall Street
- Trade good-paying careers for sweatshop labor
- Destroy family farms
- Accelerate global warming in the name of profits
- Keep the public in the dark
- Place corporate rights above our national sovereignty
- Crush our ability to support local economies
- Weaken and undermine democracy at home and abroad
President Obama wants to fast-track the TPP. Industry groups this week have been demanding that Congress approve fast-tracking. Corporate trade agreements are not treated as treaties requiring a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Rather, they are treated as requiring a simple majority in both houses. If Congress allows fast-tracking, that means the thing can't be amended. And it can't be filibustered. It must be simply voted on as is, with the most horrible bits included along with the only moderately horrible parts. Most Congress Members had no time to read the PATRIOT Act before they voted on it, and of course the public had not seen it. Congress has not seen the TPP yet either. There are three chapters in the draft text that no one has leaked even the titles of.
Fast-track authority expired in 2007 and Congress refused to renew it. Urging Congress to continue rejecting fast-track could be part of a comprehensive campaign aimed at getting Congress to take itself seriously, a campaign that might include repeal of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force which essentially handed war powers over to the president. Regardless, stopping fast track would help stop the TPP. And it wouldn't stop decent trade agreements that can withstand the light of day. There have been over 500 trade agreements created since 1974, and fast track has been used for only 16 of the worst ones.
As a candidate, Obama said he would replace fast track and make sure that Congress played a strong and informed role in trade agreements. Now he's seeking fast track. If he gets it, the TPP will become likely in every gory detail.
The TPP can be stopped. Others have been since NAFTA passed, including the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which failed following huge public protests. In the case of the FTAA, the negotiation documents were made public. Not this time. But FlushTheTPP.org offers these words of encouragement:
"Since the 'Battle in Seattle,' the World Trade Organization has had an impossible time moving forward, as was seen in the failure of the Millennial and Doha Rounds of the WTO. We also stopped the Free Trade Area of the Americas and the Multilateral Agreement on Investment. And at least 14 other corporate trade agreements have not been completed because of widespread public opposition. This is hopeful news, and together we can stop the TPP also, which will be a tremendous victory for the people against transnational corporate power!"
FlushTheTPP.org has a map where you can find or create actions around the country. Groups are encouraged to hold TPP Tuesdays, dedicating Tuesdays to educational or nonviolent resistance events. In August, when Congress Members are expected to be in their districts and senators in their states. We should bird-dog them, lobby them, meet with them, interview them, pressure them, protest them, until they agree to make the TPP public and to stop fast track. Former US Trade Representative Ron Kirk has said that if the contents of this agreement were known it could not be signed because it would be so unpopular.