Fast Track Moves Forward And Now The Fight Is On TPP Directly

from the well-that-sucks dept

As noted last week, Congress played some games last week and was able to move forward on fast track authority (Trade Promotion Authority — or TPA) in the House by decoupling it from Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). Before that, everyone had said that TPA couldn’t move forward in the Senate without TAA, but it did move forward with exactly 60 votes (the minimum it needed). That means fast track is going to the President’s desk, and of course he’ll sign it. Previously, the President had promised that he wouldn’t sign TPA without TAA, so I’m still at a loss as to how that’s happening, since the House hasn’t approved TAA yet and theoretically could block Obama from signing TPA by rejecting TAA — if (and it’s a big if) President Obama actually stands by that promise. However, the way everyone’s talking about this, it seems pretty clear that Congress is just going to cave, and will pass TAA as well.

And, effectively, that means this is a done deal. As bizarre as it sounds, Republicans in Congress (with the help of a small group of Democrats) have given up their own Constitutional powers to regulate international commerce, and handed it to the President of an opposing party, while the majority of Democrats fought to keep their own President (and the next President…) from having such powers.

In the end, this means that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is pretty much a done deal. Negotiators have more or less said that it’s ready to go, but thanks to having fast track, our own Congress will not be able to call out any of the problems in the agreement — or ask for any changes. It can only vote thumbs up or thumbs down on the agreement. And that means that the very dangerous corporate giveaways on intellectual property laws — locking us into extended copyrights, weakening the ability to make and sell cheap drugs — and corporate sovereignty provisions — allowing companies to sue for taxpayer funds over “lost profits” due to regulatory changes, is about to expand massively.

At this point, about the only way I can see that the TPP doesn’t make it across the finish line is if there’s a huge public outcry, making it totally toxic to Congress, but that seems like a very big long shot. So, thanks, Congress, for selling out the American public to a few big corporations today. It’s going to do real harm, and you’ll pretend you didn’t realize that down the road. What a sham.

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Comments on “Fast Track Moves Forward And Now The Fight Is On TPP Directly”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Not surprising at all

As bizarre as it sounds, Republicans in Congress (with the help of a small group of Democrats) have given up their own Constitutional powers to regulate international commerce, and handed it to the President of an opposing party, while the majority of Democrats fought to keep their own President (and the next President…) from having such powers.

There’s nothing ‘bizarre’ about it, money speaks louder than party affiliation or hatred, and I’m sure the corporations writing the ‘trade’ agreements have been less than subtle about what would happen to the ‘donations’ of anyone who didn’t support FTA.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Playing the long game

Reading the source article, it seems there may be more than ‘just’ money involved here. Two paragraphs in particular seem to suggest it’s a power play by the republicans, though one that might end up costing them should things not go according to plan come the next presidential election.

‘In so doing, Congress will surrender remarkable authority to Obama and his successors. For the next six years, Congress will be unable to amend any trade deal signed by the president, and only 50 votes will be required for Senate passage—a reduced burden that hasn’t been granted to minimum-wage hikes, equal-pay legislation, gun control, campaign-finance reform, nor any other non-budgetary legislation of the Obama era.’

‘On the Republican side, Boehner will almost surely have a more difficult time gathering Republican votes for the TPP than he did for fast track. One argument frequently made by Republicans during the congressional fast-track debate was that it benefited the GOP, too—that it was also a vote to give a theoretical Republican president in 2017 immense power to shape trade deals without congressional meddling. That has no application to the TPP debate.’

Sure they’re giving up power to Obama now, but his second term is just about over, so they may feel it’s worth the short-term loss if it means giving the next president, which they naturally hope is a republican, the same powers.

Anonymous Coward says:


“At this point, about the only way I can see that the TPP doesn’t make it across the finish line is if there’s a huge public outcry, making it totally toxic to Congress, but that seems like a very big long shot.”

The almost complete lack of public interest over TPP has me worried. Perhaps when the text goes public there will be greater interest (assuming there’s enough time to inform the public), but at this point I’ve pretty much lost hope.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Indifference

I and a few others tried to warn people in several places for YEARS, but either they called us “conspiracy theorist” or denied that another SOPA would happen, cared more about their feelings, completely ignored us, or simply locked the threads and silently blocked any future discussion. Between this and people abandoning their principles, it’s almost like everyone else just gave up.

It’s going to take a lot more than just “spreading the word” to disarm this corporate nuke.

Nomad of Norad says:

Re: Indifference

Well, I’ve seen it harped on elsewhere that the major news media has been largely silent on the TPP, so I betcha that has a large part of the explanation for the “lack of public interest.” If you don’t hear about it from CNN or Fox News or the like, and you’re one of the busy, unwashed masses who aren’t like US techie-types who hang out on these sort of forums…. they don’t even know there IS this thing called TPP, or they’ve heard some vague 30-second-soubdbite thing about it being “a treaty that will improve things for the USA” and they don’t know or have time or inclination to go look into it on their own, because they’re too busy making ends meet, or watching Game of Thrones or something, and probably figure if there IS something important going on, the news media will tell them about it… and since the news media isn’t telling them about it, well, it must not be important. The problem is, the major news media is owned by a tiny handful of multi-gazzillion-dollar companies who ARE among the ones who’ll benefit from the screwing over of the general population that the TPP will bring. :/

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Here’s the biggest problem with that: Most people are completely in the dark about the agreements, because, for some funny reason, no-one involved wants to tell the public anything about them.

About the only time that changes is when one of those pushing for the agreement feels like gushing about how great and awesome it is, all of course without providing any supporting details to back up their claims.

Nomad of Norad says:

Is there any way to get out of a treaty after having ratified ones self into it? To put it another way, is it possible to kill the TPP *after* *the* *fact* if it turns out to do horrendous harm to the USA?

Barring that, can the TPP be superseded by another treaty that undoes everything bad the TPP will bring?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Congress would first need to wite and vote on any legislation mandated by the treaty, so there’s still some chance of reform there. It could also choose to amend any laws so implemented, so there’s some chance for future reform as well.

The problem, however, is that while Congress is free to decide on the text of any laws required by the treaty, the Federal Government’s obligations to other countries don’t depend on such laws being enacted. The US could be held liable for violating the terms of the treaty even if the treaty had no effect on US courts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

PS – “obligations to foreign countries” above should be understood to include investor-state dispute settlement obligations (“corporate sovereignty”). Congress would remain free to pass any laws it wants to, but the federal government would be liable for any losses incurred by affected companies. That’s a huge disincentive for Congress to act on matters that affect foreign interests.

Example: Foreign copyright holders could sue the United States should Congress decide to shorten the length of copyright protection. Going by DMCA-like numbers (multiplied by the number of claimants), such a decision could become a major financial liability for the United States. In fact, I don’t think I’d be wrong to suggest that it would bankrupt the US government, at least on paper.

flyinginn says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes – although any treaty can be unilaterally denounced if the signatory claims that another party has failed to carry out its obligations. The German Reich used this approach in 1935 to denounce the Treaty of Versailles. Otherwise, unilateral renunciation may result in penalties, although that would require a supra-national body to enforce them.

Rekrul says:

Obama’s “promise” not to sign TPA without TAA was a calculated lie. He hoped that congress would assume that without TAA, TPA would never be signed. It’s TPA that he really wanted, he never cared about TAA at all. And now they’ve handed him exactly what he wanted.

Naturally he’ll then sign the TPP and Congress will vote to ratify it.

Face it, this was a done deal from the start. The entire US government is corrupt to the core and for sale to the highest bidder.

Obama claims to support clean energy, but I guarantee you, absolutely, positively GUARANTEE that he will grant the final permit that Shell needs to drill in the arctic.

Obama is a lying weasel, just like 99% of all politicians.

flyinginn says:


That’s depressing but not surprising. It also seems unlikely that TIPP will be scuppered by the EU because EU trade policy is largely controlled by the ECM, even if the European Parliament was minded to object which on the whole it isn’t.

These pacts are largely about deregulation and the free movement of capital. The problem comes when something goes wrong with the economic environment and capital begins to move violently from one market to another, like cargo shifting in a ship during a storm.

Analogy: The first recorded example of bulkheads was in 1119, when a Soong Dynasty writer described their use on junks. The advantages of not sinking by regulating the movement of cargo and water proved irresistable to people from Marco Polo to Benjamin Franklin. But so far, the need for international financial bulkheads to prevent similar financial disasters seems totally unrecognized. And the prediction is that it will remain unrecognized until yet another massive economic crisis and the sinking of a few more sovereign ships. That’s sad, but stupidity and willful ignorance have a high price. As they say in aviation, safety always looks expensive until you have a crash.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: TPP

the EU have already scuppered it… are you living under a rock?

Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional regulatory and investment treaty. As of 2014, twelve countries throughout the Asia Pacific region have participated in negotiations on the TPP: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

Doesn’t “EU” stand for “European Union”? And isn’t Europe on the other side of the Straits of Malacca? Anyhow, I don’t see “EU” on the list.

Nomad of Norad says:


Well, it LOOKS like it’s probably over… and that TPP being voted into law is a slam dunk… but they thought the passage of SOPA was a slam dunk, too, right up to the day it got photon torpedoed right out from under them by a public uprising, at the very VERY last minute.

And yes, I know there are still people working hard from the grass roots level to kill it. I hope and pray they succeed in that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Over?

A nice sentiment.

Of course, even if by some miracle we torpedo this thing like we did SOPA, we then need to do the same thing again to TTIP and TISA, as well as any other bullshit treaty that comes through.

And we would only have about 60 days each time, and can’t depend on anyone filibustering anything

Anonymous Coward says:

Notice how this bill looked a lot less likely to pass a while back. It’s a trick. They deliberately make a bad bill look unlikely to pass early on to reduce public resistance (demonstrating they know this bill is unpopular among the public) in the intermediate time. Then, last minute, they pass it. I predicted something like this would happen though others disagreed. We should put strong public pressure against bad bills even when they look unlikely to pass because it could be another trick.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This thing deserved the public attention SOPA got but one of the reasons it didn’t get that level of attention was partly because it wasn’t all that clear it would pass early on. But, last minute, it passed anyways. Had it had a lot of political support from the outset, like SOPA, that may have influenced more people to put more effort into stopping it. So their strategy to reduce attention is to make it seem like it’s probably not going to pass early on and then, last minute, pass it anyways. They got their desired results and the public got shafted because too many people kept thinking this probably isn’t going to pass. Even Techdirt partly played right into the strategy.

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