Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been completed. The agreement is a big deal. It is said it writes the rules for doing business in the 21st century and covers 40 percent of the world's economy. The agreement will determine whether the giant corporations will increase their domination or if regular people will instead be able to fight back, restore self-governance, and make a decent living in good and safe working conditions.
Unfortunately, TPP was negotiated through a corporate-dominated process, with representatives of labor, environmental, consumer, human rights and other "stakeholder" groups largely kept away from the table. The negotiations were conducted in secret and the results have been kept secret.
Now all that is in the past (except the continuing secrecy). At some point the actual text of the agreement will be made available to the public. Organizations, academics, experts and regular people will be able to read, analyze and discuss what has been agreed to in our name. We will all be playing catch-up and will have limited time to organize public opposition if that is warranted. So here are a few things to look for to try to help us understand if TPP is good or bad for regular people here and elsewhere, our environment, our economy and our country.
Proponents of the agreement have been making promises that can't be verified because of the continuing secrecy. They promise that TPP is "the most progressive trade deal the world has ever seen," and that it will "level the playing field for American workers." They say it will "create jobs, raise living standards, improve welfare and promote sustainable growth."
Their promises have set a very high bar. Will TPP live up to the promises?
What To Look For
To help decide whether TPP lives up to the promises made by those selling it, here are some questions to ask as you read the agreement. Don't be misdirected by what might have been in TPP or what we were afraid it might do; look at what is in it now and how what is in it will affect our jobs, pay and benefits, our environment, our relationship to the giant corporation and the billionaires and their immense and growing power, and our ability to self-govern and make laws and regulations that benefit and protect us.
In other words, as you read the text of TPP ask what specifically do regular, non-wealthy people in the U.S. get from TPP, and what do regular, non-wealthy people in the U.S. lose?
-- How does TPP undo the damage done by past trade agreements that President Obama says "haven't lived up to their promise"?
-- How, specifically, does TPP reverse past outsourcing of U.S. jobs, factories and industries?
-- Or are there still NAFTA-style provisions that encourage outsourcing of jobs to low-wage countries like Vietnam?
-- How does TPP increase the number of jobs and the pay for regular working people in the U.S. and elsewhere, and by how much?
-- Does TPP have provisions that force wages in countries that currently pay very little to rise to a level that approaches U.S. wages? (This would help those workers buy American-made products, too.)
-- How, specifically, will TPP help fight income inequality? What is in TPP that would prevent companies that benefit from the deal from keeping all of the proceeds while leaving their employees behind?
-- Are the rumors and leaks about Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions true? Will foreign investors with complaints about U.S. laws or regulations be able to bypass U.S. courts and sue us for taxpayer monies before private tribunals?