President Obama Demands Critics Tell Him What's Wrong With TPP; Of Course We Can't Do That Because He Won't Show Us The Agreement
from the most-transparent-administration-in-history dept
President Obama is apparently quite annoyed by the fact that his own party is basically pushing against his “big trade deals” (that are not really about trade). Senator Elizabeth Warren has been pretty aggressive in trashing the TPP agreement, highlighting the fact that the agreement is still secret (other than the bits leaked by Wikileaks). In response, President Obama came out swinging against the critics of TPP arguing that “they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
He insists that it’s unfair to compare TPP to NAFTA because they’re different deals:
?You need to tell me what?s wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago.?
Well, Mr. President, I would love to do that, but I can’t because you and your USTR haven’t released the damn text. It takes an insane lack of self-awareness for the guy who once declared his administration “the most transparent in history” to demand people tell him what’s wrong with his trade agreement, when that agreement is kept entirely secret.
Furthermore, multiple experts concerning things like the corporate sovereignty ISDS provisions and the intellectual property chapters have gone into great detail as to why the leaked versions have problems. They’re not complaining about NAFTA. They’re actually complaining about the latest drafts — but the USTR won’t acknowledge them because they’re talking about leaked versions.
In fact, the only real complaints I’ve seen relating to NAFTA concern the fact that the government says one thing about these big agreements, but the reality is something different.
Of course, he attacks the fact that people are complaining about the secrecy as well, by arguing (misleadingly) that the deal is not at all secret:
?The one that gets on my nerves the most is the notion that this is a ?secret? deal,? Obama said. ?Every single one of the critics who I hear saying, ?this is a secret deal,? or send out emails to their fundraising base saying they?re working to prevent this secret deal, can walk over today and read the text of the agreement. There?s nothing secret about it.?
I’m a critic. I can’t walk over today and read the text of the agreement. Obviously, President Obama is only talking about elected members of Congress. But that’s not what they’re complaining about. They’re complaining about the fact that the American public cannot see the text of the document or discuss the specifics of what’s in there. And that’s absolutely true.
And even the fact that members of Congress can actually see the document is tremendously misleading. Yes, members of Congress are allowed to walk over to the USTR and see a copy of the latest text. But they’re not allowed to take any notes, make any copies or bring any of their staff members. In other words, they can only read the document and keep what they remember in their heads. And they can’t have their staff members — the folks who often really understand the details — there to explain what’s really going on.
And it all comes back to the point that Senator Warren has been making for a long time: that former USTR Ron Kirk has admitted that a big reason why they keep the document secret is that when they tried being more transparent in the past, the agreement failed. As Warren says, if being transparent with the American public means the agreement will fail, then the problem is with the agreement, not the public.
?When I keep on hearing people repeating this notion that it?s ?secret,? I gotta say, it?s dishonest,? Obama continued. ?And it?s concerning when I see friends of mine resorting to these kinds of tactics.?
Here’s a little test: can we see the current TPP documents today? No? Then it’s secret. Claiming otherwise is what’s dishonest.