Reprinted from Smirking Chimp
Six years into his presidency, President Obama is now taking heat from a surprising place: congressional Democrats, who are lining up against his plan to force the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress without any debate whatsoever.
If approved, the TPP, or as I like to call it, the Southern Hemisphere Asian Free Trade Agreement -- SHAFTA -- would create a whole new set of rules regulating the economies of 12 countries on four different continents bordering the Pacific Ocean.
Unfortunately, because the TPP is being negotiated almost entirely in secret, we don't know a lot about it.
What we do know about it, though, comes almost entirely from leaks, and those leaks paint a pretty scary picture.
Thanks to groups like WikiLeaks, we now know the TPP would give big pharmaceutical companies virtual monopoly patent power, let corporations sue countries in international courts over regulations that those corporations don't like, and gut environmental and financial rules.
Given facts like this, you'd think that President Obama would want Congress to actually take the time and debate whether or not the TPP is a good idea for the US public.
But that's apparently not the case.
To push the US onto the TPP as soon as possible, he's asked Congress to give him "fast-tracking" powers that would prevent lawmakers from making any amendments to the TPP.
Instead, the treaty would be sent right to the floor where it would only have to pass a simple majority vote.
Sounds pretty, anti-democratic, right?
Well it is, and that's why Congressional Democrats are now speaking out against President Obama's request for fast-tracking powers.
But the fight against TPP is about more than just whether our elected representatives should get a say in the trade policy of our republic -- it's about whether the middle class will survive through the next generation.
As economist Adam Smith pointed out in his classic book The Wealth of Nations, manufacturing is what really creates the wealth of nations. That's because manufacturing creates things of real value, like cars, that can be sold to create wealth. This, in turn, helps create a middle class made up of working people who make the things that fuel the economy.
Every single great power in modern world history has understood this. That's why they protected their domestic industries with strong tariffs that made goods produced by domestic factories cheaper than those made abroad.
The founding fathers understood the importance of manufacturing as well. One of the first things George Washington did when he took office was ask Alexander Hamilton to come up with a plan to boost US manufacturing.