Bloomberg Points Out That White House's Near Total Lack Of Transparency May Doom TPP

from the indeed-it-will dept

While the NY Times apparently has no problem endorsing the TPP agreement despite not having read it (because it's still totally secret), it appears that other news organizations are feeling differently. Bloomberg's editorial folks have written a pretty strong editorial slamming the Obama administration for the unnecessary and counterproductive secrecy around the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. And this isn't from people who are against the overall agreement. To the contrary, they argue that a good free trade agreement between pacific rim countries would be very helpful for economic and job growth. But the near total lack of transparency by the US may doom the entire project.

The Bloomberg editorial notes that, contrary to USTR Michael Froman's laughable claims of transparency, last week's leak of the IP chapter showed how little transparency there had been, since the US was asking for lots of very controversial things, without any willingness to discuss this with the public. As they note, just because items are controversial, it doesn't mean that the federal government should hide them from both Congress and the public -- in fact, quite the opposite.
The administration may cite the controversies such provisions would provoke as a reason for keeping them secret. Yet just because a deal creates tension among competing interests isn’t a license to keep them uninformed. And the U.S. has invited more than 500 corporate advisers to help it negotiate a deal.

Corporations and trade groups, however, don’t represent the broader interests of consumers, workers, environmentalists and … oh, yes, taxpayers. Theoretically at least, representing them is Congress’s rightful role. Keeping it in the dark feeds the perception that the TPP is a special-interest free-for-all.
Basically, the argument here is similar to what I said last week: there wouldn't be this kind of controversy if the USTR had sucked it up and actually been transparent. That means discussing publicly what they're negotiating in our name, releasing draft texts of what they're proposing, and then being open for discussion about it all. The USTR points to that last one -- the fact that they'll "talk to anyone" as evidence of transparency. But without the first two things, that last one isn't transparency at all.

While Bloomberg has its own credibility problems these days, I'm somewhat surprised that it has come out so strongly against the way the administration and the USTR in particular, has handled the TPP negotiations. Many large media organizations, and especially a corporate appeasing one like Bloomberg, were mostly expected to do what the NYT did -- repeat the topline claims about what the TPP is supposed to accomplish, and assume that the details don't matter.

The details do matter quite a lot, and the USTR still doesn't think we should be able to see them.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 4:01am

    Lack of transparency is not the problem

    It's the symptom.

    Now, let's say, Uncle Sam want to shovel down a truckload of crap down your throat.
    You of course don't want to eat shit, so refuse, rebel, protest.
    Now, Uncle Sam is getting good money to do his job, so he tells you first to close your eye, because it'll be a Surprise!
    First problem: you don't trust Uncle Sam to do this in the first place.
    Second problem: you still smell crap that leaks from the truck.

    This agreement would fail, transparency or not, because of it's content.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 4:04am

    ...May Doom TPP

    Well, here's hoping.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 4:20am

    Amazon by providing a market place available to anyone anywhere to sell to anyone anywhere is supporting free trade. Government are aiming to gain advantage over each other when negotiating treaties, along with meeting the needs of special interest groups, and so are negotiating in secret to restrict trade to those who know the secret handshake.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 4:25am

    So...

    What we're saying here is that NYT is owned by US-owned pro-copyright lobbying forces, while Bloomberg have sold out to Chinese anti-copyright lobbyist forces, as detailed in the "Fired for telling the truth" story from earlier in the week?

    Marvellous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 4:31am

    Re: Lack of transparency is not the problem

    Third problem: the ones wielding the shovels don't have to deal with the crap themselves, meaning they can't possibly understand why anyone would object to their delightful 'surprise'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 5:12am

    Re: So...

    I'll side with anti-copyright Chinese forces over the MPAA any time. Quite ironically, they seem to represent my interests much more than my own government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 6:01am

    Re: So...

    Perhaps that's a damning indictment of the state of the US with regards to Perceptional 'Property'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 6:26am

    Oh, baloney. Just the usual lies to say it's NOT a sure thing.

    When corporate organs run pieces saying goals of the corporatized globalists are at risk of not passing, it's sheerly to make people drop opposition thinking it's safe.

    Mike falls for this every time.

    But even if stopped now, it'll be back! -- Just like CISPA! Mike was/is wrong that's dead too. -- So long as The Rich and their corporations aren't pushed back with Populism, they'll just keep going for more power: it's what they do, it's their game: both protects and extends their power.

    Here's a key point "libertarians" don't get: lower tax rates, especially on unearned income, actually help only The Rich to concentrate money and control the economy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 6:28am

    Techdirt, two days ago:

    "Bloomberg News Kills All Credibility..."

    "Yet another major news organization has decided that it no longer needs credibility..."

    Pretty damning words.

    Now let's look at what Techdirt has to say today:

    "Bloomberg Points Out..."

    "Bloomberg's editorial folks have written..."

    Wait. So, they magically became credible over the last two days? Does not compute. Unless we factor in the thing that tends to ruin almost every argument made on this site: if it agrees with me it is good, otherwise it is bad. Context, logic and facts be damned.



    Luckily for Techdirt, its credibility already hit rock-bottom a long time ago, otherwise this could be embarrassing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 6:59am

    Re:

    That's right, because there's no difference between news stories and editorials.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Pragmatic, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 7:29am

    Re:

    While Bloomberg has its own credibility problems these days, I'm somewhat surprised that it has come out so strongly against the way the administration and the USTR in particular, has handled the TPP negotiations.


    Actually, its you who lacks credibility here, AC. Mike doesn't do the extremist thing and is more interested in getting at the truth than taking sides. He speaks as he finds. Why can't you do the same?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    kP (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 7:56am

    Isn't that the point all along?

    Just because TPP is being discussed doesn't mean it is being done in good faith. Has the White House decided to embrace and smother, Microsoft style?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 8:12am

    TPP is NOTHING like a free trade agreement. What's the opposite of free trade? That's TPP.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Pixelation, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 8:20am

    Why not just wait?

    I'm sure if we ask Feinstein she will say to wait until after it's voted upon so we can know what is in it. What could possibly go wrong?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 9:07am

    all i can say to this is 'fucking good job'!!
    no trade deal should be discussed or negotiated in secret and all parties MUST be represented, not just those from government and business. we, the people, are the biggest slice of any market. we MUST be included in where our money etc is going to!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 9:49am

    Re:

    Techdirt lost all credibility long ago?

    Funny, because from where I and many others are sitting, Techdirt is pretty damn accurate in what they report and actually get stuff done.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    OldMugwump (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 10:06am

    Goodies for special interest groups

    "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." --Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

    I'm a free trader - a real free trade agreement would indeed be great.

    But I don't understand how the New York Times (or anyone) can expect a deal negotiated in secret - BUT with lots of input from "interested parties" - to be anything but a candy bowl for special interests.

    I sympathize with the desire of trade negotiators to avoid confronting economically ignorant protectionist know-nothings (who don't understand what is in their own best interests).

    But the only solution is economic education, not secrecy - because human nature ensures that secrecy will lead directly to conspiracy against the public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 10:27am

    The lazy people in power, instead of using the democratic process and working for it by creating the necessary support you know by explaining how it works, what is for, what could go wrong, what it hopes to achieve and so forth, just decides to cut corners and use the "we are the authority, we know better than you and you will comply or else" attitude.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Re:

    Techdirt, two days ago:

    "Bloomberg News Kills All Credibility..."

    "Yet another major news organization has decided that it no longer needs credibility..."

    Pretty damning words.

    Now let's look at what Techdirt has to say today:

    "Bloomberg Points Out..."

    "Bloomberg's editorial folks have written..."

    Wait. So, they magically became credible over the last two days? Does not compute. Unless we factor in the thing that tends to ruin almost every argument made on this site: if it agrees with me it is good, otherwise it is bad. Context, logic and facts be damned.



    Luckily for Techdirt, its credibility already hit rock-bottom a long time ago, otherwise this could be embarrassing.


    Well put. And Techdirt has a proud tradition of shit like this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Namel3ss (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 11:19am

    Re: Why not just wait?

    That's Pelosi you're thinking of.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 11:30am

    Re: Lack of transparency is not the problem

    well Uncle Sam is the spirit of the american people so its more like a fatcat is trying to shove a truckload of crap down HIS(the people) throat

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 8:51am

    I believe the internet defense league need to know about the Trans Pacific Partnership. They took down SOPA, we can do the same on Trans Pacific Partnership.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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