Countries Sign The TPP… Whatever Happened To The 'Debate' We Were Promised Before Signing?

from the now-the-ratification-fight dept

About an hour ago, representatives from 12 different nations officially signed the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP) agreement in Auckland, New Zealand. The date, February 4th (New Zealand time) is noteworthy, because it’s 90 days after the official text was released. There was a 90 day clock that was required between releasing the text and before the US could actually sign onto the agreement. The stated purpose of this 90 day clock was in order to allow “debate” about the agreement. Remember, the entire agreement was negotiated in secret, with US officials treating the text of the document as if it were a national security secret (unless you were an industry lobbyist, of course). So as a nod to pretend “transparency” there was a promise that nothing would be signed for 90 days after the text was actually released.

So… uh… what happened to that “debate”? It didn’t happen at all. The TPP was barely mentioned at all by the administration in the last 90 days. Even during the State of the Union, Obama breezed past the TPP with a quick comment, even though it’s supposedly a defining part of his “legacy.” But there’s been no debate. Because there was never any intent for an actual debate. The 90 day clock was just something that was put into the process so that the USTR and the White House could pretend that there was more “transparency” and that they wouldn’t sign the agreement until after it had been looked at and understood by the public.

Of course, the signing is a totally meaningless bit of theater. The real fight is over ratification. The various countries need to ratify the TPP for the agreement to go into effect. Technically, the TPP will enter into force 60 days after all signers ratify it… or, if that doesn’t happen, within two years if at least six of the 12 participant countries ratify it and those six countries account for 85% of the combined gross domestic product of the 12 countries. Got that? In short, this means that if the US doesn’t ratify it, the TPP is effectively dead. The US needs a majority of both houses of Congress to approve it, similar to a typical bill. And that’s no sure thing right now. Unfortunately, that’s mainly because a group of our elected officials are upset that the TPP doesn’t go far enough in helping big businesses block competition, but it’s still worth following.

Inevitably, there will be some debate during the ratification process, though there are enough rumors suggesting that no one really wants to do it until after the Presidential election, because people running for President don’t want to reveal that they’re happy to sell out the public’s interest to support a legacy business lobbyist agenda. But, even that debate will likely be fairly limited and almost certainly will avoid the real issues, and real problems, with the TPP.

Either way, today’s symbolic signing should really be an exclamation point on the near total lack of transparency and debate in this process. The 90 day window was a perfect opportunity to have an actual discussion about what’s in the TPP and why there are problems with it, but the administration showed absolutely no interest in doing so. And why should it? It already got the deal it wanted behind closed doors. But, at least it can pretend it used these 90 days to be “transparent.”

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Comments on “Countries Sign The TPP… Whatever Happened To The 'Debate' We Were Promised Before Signing?”

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67 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Because it seems that it is a done deal, sadly. Pessimism isn’t unwarranted here judging by the current state of affairs. Granted, SOPA/PIPA and ACTA failed because they were not as big as the TPP in term of the things those covered so it was easier to attack the things they contained, those were more specific, in the case of the TPP the contrary is true, therefore they have way more lobbying (bribing) power from many more angles than the aforementioned. I’m trying my best not to be pessimistic but I don’t see this being defeated anytime soon.

Stephen says:

Debate? What Debate?

So… uh… what happened to that “debate”? It didn’t happen at all.

Come now. Did anybody really think there was ever going to be debate on the TPP?

Governments promising a debate on some topic is an old ploy designed to take wind out of sails and otherwise stymie opposition. Like New Years’ resolutions, they are made one day and forgotten the next.

Josh Taylor Author of The Interracial Progress says:

Re: TPP

Totally pissed public. Because they think some trade deal is take their rights, take their internet away.

Boo hoo.

It’s just the internet. Nothing is being taken away.

What’s wrong with those who oppose paying royalty to make a derivative work out of someone’s original idea, cartoon character, or novel? If anyone who don’t want to pay, they should be originally creative.

Creators are not corporations, they real people struggling to make a living, and they are not making a single penny and losing billions of dollars over unauthorized derivative work that is taken from originals.

Wendy Cockcroft says:

Re: Re: TPP

LOL! You really believe that copyright rent-seeking is the only way to make a living from your creativity? That’s for the rich. All copyright gives you is the right to sue for infringement. That’s all. Nothing is actually protected, you’re just relying on the threat of a legal smacking if someone violates your temporary monopoly privilege.

But you’ve got to be able to actually serve the papers… it’s a game of whack-a-mole and nobody really wins. Give it up and find other ways of making money from your art. Here’s a list of links to TD stories about business models you might want to try: https://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=business+models

Good luck. Let us know how it goes. I’d love to see yet another success story getting a write-up here.

William Rood says:

Re: Re: TPP

“Creators are not corporations, they real people struggling to make a living”

Josh, you are clearly ignorant of how intellectual property works in the corporate world. The geniuses (engineers, programmers and designers) who invent most everything are forced to sign away the rights to all intellectual property they create when they become employees of a corporation. The corporation owns all patents and copyrights they create while in its employ. They are paid a salary. Period. If they object, they are not hired, and good luck finding a corporation willing to give them full credit for their creativity.

These trade agreements have nothing to do with preserving the rights of Paul McCartney or J K Rowling. They are multi-millionaires and their rights are fully protected under current law. If you are an individual artist who has not yet made it big, and some corporation rips off your work, good luck hiring and paying a legal team to fight the the legal team the corporation already has on staff or under contract. You’ll be severely disadvantaged both now and after TPP. TPP has absolutely nothing to do with protecting individual rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Govt corruption in general

Obama’s tricks are old. His administration tried it and failed the CISPA/TIPA and after they tried to pass the ACTA by introducing it to the public about a week or two before it was to be signed into law. Nobody was given any notice and the tactic was simple. Screw the US citizens right to privacy, all while kissing up to the MPAA, RIAA selling you out to them. Did anyone really think that Obama was going to actually step down when the we the people came close to reaching over the goal needed for an impeachment. This asshole isn’t a president, he’s a tyrant. Tyranny has been going on for way too long. And since the DOJ and FBI both don’t hold accountability to their departments, neither does the president. So we have a completely untrustworthy govt. Which means the 2nd amendment needs to be enforced to overthrow our govt. Peacefully assemble, arm yourself to the teeth and walk in large numbers right to the white house

procopius (profile) says:

Re: Re: Govt corruption in general

I expected the more passionate people to get some space, but I was overoptimistic. Six corporations own 95% of American media, and they obviously don’t want to hear any objections. Note that for every one of those six corporations, there is one person who really decides what corporate policy is going to be. This is how our public debate is decided now. Thanks so much, Bill Clinton.

OGquaker says:

Re: sounds like you watch to much TV

The Bonus Army was the popular name of an assemblage of some 43,000 marchers on Washington in 1932 (the US had 30% of our population today)….On July 28, (the)U.S. Attorney General ordered the veterans removed from all government property. … President Herbert Hoover then ordered the army to clear the veterans’ campsite. Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur commanded the infantry and cavalry, supported by six tanks. …marchers with their wives and children were driven out, and their shelters and belongings burned. WiKi
~~~~~~
In 1783, hundreds of Pennsylvania war veterans marched on Philadelphia, then the nation’s capital, surrounded the State House where the U.S. Congress was in session, and demanded back pay. Congress fled to Princeton, New Jersey, and several weeks later, the U.S. Army expelled the war veterans from Philadelphia. In response to that experience, the federal district is now directly governed by the U.S. Congress, now known as Washington, D.C., was excluded from the restrictions of the ‘Posse Comitatus Act’ which forbade the use of the U.S. military for domestic police activity.” WiKi
On march 9th, 1945 1-2 million were killed in three hours, according to newspaper headlines at the time. MacArthur needed his Emperor alive, so my Father spent months in experiments in Hollywood perfecting the firebombing to spare Hirohito’s palace.

Good call, stupid.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Obama's tricks are old

1) Becuase while they don’t like him, they love money, and the companies that stand to profit heavily from the thing also tend to be generous with their money to those that ‘help’ them.

and…

2) Thinking long-term. FTA helps Obama for the TPP sure, but it also stays in place for a few years, and if a republican is elected president next, then that means they get all the benefits from it as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Theres already one billion dollar lawsuit coming about the canadian pipeline being stopped,
Wait til we see 100,s of lawsuits from 100,s of european or asian countrys against the usa ,
The so called 1 per cent increase in gdp will be wiped out .
TTP is a deal for the 1 per cent and for big corporations
who do their best to avoid paying tax .
ttp could unleash a war of lawsuits against the us ,
think the cost of patent trolls x 1000 .

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And if the USA ends up being fined and has to payout money to the other countries the USA will raise their middle finger and say fuck you we are not going to pay and you can’t do jack shit to us to get us to pay and the country will back down in getting the USA to pay up.

Now if any country has to pay to the USA and refuses to pay the USA will threaten sanctions and possibly send the army over and the country will cave like a coward and pay up even with interest on top to please the USA.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Wow, what alternate timeline did you just arrive from? No one fears the US anymore. Our military might is a thing of the past. Government draw downs and spending cuts saw to that. And our sanctions worked so well with Iran didn’t they? The current political will of the present government of the US is appeasement.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Our military might is a thing of the past.

Which countries have more powerful militaries than the US? Should be a lot of them according to your claim, right?

Government draw downs and spending cuts saw to that.

“The U.S. spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined”

http://www.pgpf.org/chart-archive/0053_defense-comparison

And our sanctions worked so well with Iran didn’t they?

Sure did, we got both a nuclear weapons and inspection deal, and a prisoner release.

The current political will of the present government of the US is appeasement.

“Appeasement in a political context is a diplomatic policy of making political or material concessions to an enemy power in order to avoid conflict.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeasement

So what concessions has Obama been making in order to avoid conflict?

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

So what concessions has Obama been making in order to avoid conflict?

He finally conceded it would be insane to invade Iran because it would be both un-winnable and turn the entire Middle East into a bonfire from which none would escape, and possibly bankrupt all those involved. Besides, he was already busy cooking up a NATO backed coup in Ukraine to tweak Putin’s nose for failing to respect his “authoritay.”

Kronomex (profile) says:

Of course our bicycle stand Osstrayan gubmint will ratify this sickening travesty. They wouldn’t want to upset the corpserations and their ‘merican bum chums. Who gives a shit what the little people want or need. Our Trade-It-All-Away Minister, Andrew Robber…sorry, Robb, reckons we won’t get sued via the ISDS clause(s). He doesn’t wear rose coloured glasses he wears a heavy duty welding helmet.

David says:

Re: Re:

The president is not even being asked so he has rather few opportunities to lie about the process. Any president would have to put up a whole fight to even get his foot in the door of the negotiators. He can kill American citiziens with drones and assassins but trying his power against the organized corporate syndicates would be a dare.

It would be interesting to see how Sanders fares with this feat, assuming that he actually cares (Obama was a real turncoat with regard to raised expectations). It may well be that he’d turn into another Carter (who went on to become a great ex-president since the “great president” angle did not work out), basically getting neutered by his administration. If he’s unlucky, another JFK (now there would be a fine use for one of the many curated FBI “terrorists”).

Anonymous Coward says:

trying to figure out how this happened when politicians are supposed to be working for the people and the people, in their tens of thousands, have told those same politicians NOT TO SIGN THE FUCKING DEAL! all those involved in the discussions and the signings need to be put on notice that there will be big changes at the next elections!!

David says:

Re: Re:

all those involved in the discussions and the signings need to be put on notice that there will be big changes at the next elections!!

So who are you going to vote for instead of politicians? Your tomcat?

The only thing cheaper to bribe than an experienced politician are fresh ones. They don’t yet have a politician’s standards of living. The initial down payment for the conscience may be larger, but that’s offset by the running rates.

Whatever (profile) says:

Where has the sainted Mr Wyden been during all of this? Silent as the proverbial lamb, it seems. In fact, you can trash the Obama administration all you like, but the house and congress are full of ladies and gentleman from the other party who have done absolutely nothing to “debate” any of this.

So why no ask Ron (I am assuming you are on a first name basis, after all) why he’s so silent on something that is apparently so important. Perhaps there are no grandstanding points available on this level.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Where has the sainted Mr Wyden been during all of this?

I know you won’t go look for yourself so…

http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/local/wyden-talks-tpp-education-at-phs/article_791651f5-c386-573f-9e32-839eac2ae8da.html

http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/politics/2016/01/15/q-sen-ron-wyden-talks-oregon-trade-and-surveillance/78687022/

There could be more that he’s been saying but that was all I found in a couple of pages of results.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

In other words, he did nothing.

Can you show any motions to bring the discussions and debate onto senate floor? Any move to reconvene the senate for an emergency debate?

You likely won’t find anything (I couldn’t find anything substantive). In fact, the congress as a whole has been remarkably silent during the 90 days, as if perhaps there was an agreement in place not to talk about it.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

In other words, he did nothing.

Not necessarily. He may have been asking all and sundry “let’s debate this”, and all he got back was “” so he knew that dog wasn’t going to hunt. You don’t flog a dead horse.

That doesn’t mean he was in on the fix, just that he was powerless to do anything about it.

I’m just speculating though.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Not necessarily. He may have been asking all and sundry “let’s debate this”, and all he got back was “” so he knew that dog wasn’t going to hunt. You don’t flog a dead horse.
That doesn’t mean he was in on the fix, just that he was powerless to do anything about it.

And whose fault is that? Wyden was in favor of giving Obama fast-track authority to sign this deal.

Anonymous Coward says:

” In short, this means that if the US doesn’t ratify it, the TPP is effectively dead. The US needs a majority of both houses of Congress to approve it, similar to a typical bill. “
Am I the only one who reads this as the politicians wrote the requirements such as to ensure a great deal of bribery (lobbying) of politicians in both houses had to occur for this to pass

David says:

Re: Re: Re: Unconstitutional?

The Supreme Court can, of course, rule the TPP unconstitutional even after it has been ratified. That does not change the international obligations the U.S. has entered into, however. So the U.S. will still have to pay all the respective costs and penalties, they can just select to pick different pockets for that internally.

dale (profile) says:

post-fascist governance

Historically, fascism has used nationalism as a unifying feature but the new corporate fascism in which the state is controlled by transnational corporations has done away with nationalism, and with it, the concept of national sovereignty.

In the new corporate fascism, a corporate world order trumps sovereign rights. Welcome to your new rulers. In the new corporate order, nationalism and nations will be only used to promote and fight wars, which all forms of fascism recognize as a very successful business model, with national governments having the function of funneling taxpayer funds to corporations through lucrative war contracts. In this sense, the new fascism will be just like the old, based on war as a means of transferring public funds to private pockets.

richard feibel (profile) says:

TPP BULL SHIT

WHATS NEW HERE?? ALL ENSLAVEMENT LAWS/BILLS /DEALS ETC ARE SECRET AND WITHHELD FROM THE PUBLIC IN THIS FAKE DEMOCRACY THEY TELL US WE HAVE.SUCH BULL SHIT ITS JUST MORE OF THE SAME SHIPPING JOBS OFF TO NOT EVEN CHINA NOW BUT AFRICA M.E. INDIA AND PARTS UNKNOWN.ALL FOR CORP AMERICA/WORLD JUST LOOK AT HOW THE DOW KEEPS GROWING BECAUSE THE CRIMINALS ARE BUYING BACK THEIR OWN SHARES TO PRIVATIZE CORP.KNOWING FULL WELL THAT THE TRADE DEALS WILL INSURE THEIR PROFITS FOR DECADES TO COME.THE ENTIRE FINANCIAL SYSTEM IS A RIGGED CASINO WERE THE ELITE PLAY TO WIN AND THEY ARE BIG TIME!!!!

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