(Article changed on January 25, 2014 at 01:53)
is the first part of a five-part series: Sleeping
Through the TPP Coup: Why a Trans-National Corporate Power Grab That
Hurts Almost Everyone Is Arousing So Little Outcry
If you are like most people you probably have not heard of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a secrecy-shrouded disaster deceptively marketed as a "trade agreement." Corporations are hoping to " fast track " this generally unknown but massively significant piece of legislation through Congress, and the bill to do this was introduced on January 9. Fast-tracking a piece of legislation means that Congress is obliged to vote yea or nay on that legislation without amendment or debate within 90 days of its introduction. Due to the secrecy around the TPP and the practical constraints on digesting such a massive bill within 90 days or less, most Congressional representatives might find themselves forced to vote on the TPP largely without knowing what's really in it. To ease their discomfort with this arrangement there will probably be a lot of earmarked pork for the districts and states of wavering representatives. That was the case with NAFTA--another so-called "trade agreement"--twenty years ago.
So what is in the TPP and why should you care? The first question has to be answered a little speculatively because the contents of emerging TPP proposals and negotiations have been classified as a state secret. That secrecy has been punctured only by some negotiation documents leaked to TPP-watching groups (including two main chapters of the draft text released by Wikileaks). The secrecy even affects members of Congress. Were it not for the insistence of some brave representatives, Congress would be kept entirely in the dark until the behemoth of a bill is officially introduced. Even now, Congressional access to draft texts is highly limited, though about 600 multi-national corporations have free access to these texts.
What the rest of us can do is cobble together a list of plausible suspicions based on portions of the negotiations that have been leaked and on the records of similar trade-deals-that-aren't-really-about-trade (NAFTA, CAFTA, WTO, etc). Based on these sources of information, the TPP is likely to present a grave threat to the following human needs, in no particular order: