As TPP Supporters Whine About Failure Of Fast Track, Why Is No One Suggesting Increased Transparency?

from the time-to-get-it-right dept

As we just mentioned, it looks like there aren't enough votes in Congress to give the President and the US Trade Rep the "fast track" authority they want to cram massive trade agreements down the throats of the American public. Nancy Pelosi, whose statement last week helped signal that it was a real possibility that support for fast track would no longer be likely, has now penned an op-ed for USA Today claiming that fast track is on its last legs, highlighting that Congress (not the executive branch) has the power to regulate commerce with foreign countries. Meanwhile, supporters of trade have put into motion an attempt to salvage fast track, which may lead to a vote as soon as tomorrow -- but seems like a risky gambit that may not succeed.

Meanwhile, the NY Times presents the argument that with the failure of fast track, and very likely TPP with it, it could greatly diminish the US's influence in Asia. This argument has been made for a long time, and it's... questionable at best. The article dutifully quotes the "40% of the global economy" line that supporters of the TPP throw out every other hour or so, but that's really overstating the impact of the TPP. Still, there is a legitimate argument that stronger trade relations between the US and these Asian countries is good for the global economy. But -- and this is the important part that isn't mentioned -- you don't need the TPP to do that.

Furthermore, this ignores the real reasons why the TPP failed. Rather than being about further opening up trading relations, the USTR ramped up the process that has been popular among lobbyists over the past couple of decades: using supposedly "free trade" deals to sneak in all sorts of regulatory schemes that will strongly pressure countries (including the US) to either change laws in certain ways, or block changing laws in other ways. That is, rather than free trade, these deals are actually the opposite. They're backdoor protectionism in the name of lobbyist-driven regulation.

And here's the thing that's amazing. In all of this, no one is talking about how to actually fix this. Pelosi talks about getting a "better deal" for the American middle class. And, sure, that would be great. But the real problem here is that these trade agreements became the playthings of giant corporate lobbyists, rather than democratically driven ideas.

If the TPP and other agreements like TTIP and TISA are really so vital to America's interests, and the interests of the "global economy," then let's have the negotiations and the debate out in public. Other international bodies, like WIPO, have long allowed such negotiations to happen publicly. It may not be how the USTR and its counterparts have negotiated such agreements in the past, but there's no reason they can't change now. Rather than continuing down this path of loading a ton of crap on the TPP tree, just to force through a few simpler free trading principles, why not conduct the negotiations openly, so that the public in all of those countries know what's going on and can see the reasoning behind these deals?

The only reason not to do this is to argue that the public is simply too dumb to understand why these deals are supposedly so important. And if that's your argument, then you're arguing against democracy. If the USTR believes it's representing democracy, then, at the very least, it should lead the way in saying that these trade negotiations will be conducted publicly and in a much more transparent way.

Filed Under: congress, fast track, nancy pelosi, taa, tpa, tpp, trade promotion authority, transparency, ttip, ustr


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 3:01pm

    Not quite

    The only reason not to do this is to argue that the public is simply too dumb to understand why these deals are supposedly so important.

    That's one possibility, sure. The other, much more likely reason though is that they do think the public is smart enough to understand what's in the 'trade' agreements, and they know that an informed public is one that would never agree with what's being negotiated supposedly for their benefit, and in their name.

    They keep the public in the dark not because they think that people wouldn't be able to understand what's going on, but because they fear that they would, and their corporate wishlist deals would be shut down as a result.

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

  • icon
    Heyman (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 3:14pm

    75 per cent of respondents never heard of biggest free trade deal yet

    "A new poll suggests three in four Canadians have no idea that Canada is one of 12 countries immersed in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 3:18pm

    Like I have said before, it is not just TPP, TAFTA, or TISA, but numerous other agreements the government has been trying to ram through for years, which would not be possible without fast track.

    Alex Jones has warned that fast track is much more dangerous than most people realize.

    I do believe a lot of those who voted against it in Congress realize this. The UN arms control agreement that would take away citizens rights to own a firearm is one that Obama and the gun-control nuts could ram down the throats of the American people, as it could be passed as an executive agreement, like TPP, as an agreement needing only a simple majority, instead of a 2/3 vote, as a treaty, to pass.

    Certain climate change agreements, which have also raised the ire of the American people becuase it would cost jobs and make everything more expensive, could also be rammed through with just a simple majority, in both houses, under fast track.

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

    • identicon
      PRMan, 17 Jun 2015 @ 3:24pm

      Re:

      "The UN arms control agreement that would take away citizens rights to own a firearm"

      If that passed, there would be open civil war in America that same day.

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

      • identicon
        David, 17 Jun 2015 @ 3:36pm

        Re: Re:

        This could bankrupt many gun manufacturers. At that point, where would cops get their guns? Would they have to 3D print them?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 7:04pm

        Re: Re:

        That is one reason to fear fast track, as it would be easier to get through. The 2/3 vote needed to pass the UN gun control treaty, or even TPP, as a treaty would never happen, which is why it cannot pass without fast track.

        They could still try and pass TPP as a treaty, instead of an executive agreement, without fast track, but that would need a 2/3 vote, which neither house of Congress has.

        If fast track fails, I would not be surprised if try to go that route, but getting a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress would never happen.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2015 @ 1:58am

      Re:

      That myth? The arms control agreement was only regulating international arms transfers and fairly sensible and basic ones. As in "No you can't transfer guns to Tyrannia they're attempting genocide currently!"

      Usual paranoid crowd of "Everything the UN does is to take away their guns and let the current ethnic bogeymen take over the world."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 3:18pm

    If you can get 12 governments to agree to anything you know that it cannot be good for anyone.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 3:24pm

      Re:

      Well, almost anyone. I'm sure it's great for the various corporations that are writing the thing.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 7:44pm

        Re: Re:

        I don't think the corporate masters know what they are doing.
        They are like unsupervised children with matches. It inevitably ends with the barn burning down.
        The story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice comes to mind.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 3:34pm

    In effect even if not signed

    What about those clauses we heard about whereby the agreement is in effect even if not ratified? Has congress got some mojo to protect us from that?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 4:29pm

    It's got nothing to do with trade

    Too big to fail == too big to exist.

    The citizens of a sovereign nation should not have to pay for the imaginary lost profit of some greedy corporate interest simply because said citizens have no interest in purchasing whatever corporate product(s) are being foisted upon the market.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 4:38pm

    Our federal government is predicated in general upon elected representatives, which is more appropriately called a republic versus democracy. To my knowledge elected representatives have not been denied access to information by the USTR.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 4:52pm

      Re:

      Yes, and those representatives are elected to represent their electorate, not the highest bidder.

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

    • identicon
      coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 5:24pm

      Re:

      correct, and for the american public to be able to tell their elected officials what their view is on an issue means they need to be informed on said issue.

      #trollfed

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

    • identicon
      Edward Teach, 17 Jun 2015 @ 5:27pm

      Re: Perhaps technically, yes

      I think that you're technically correct. Senators (and only Senators) can come to some secure facility, view the document, and leave. They don't get to take notes, or take copies of significant pieces. They don't get to bring their staffers that have relevant knowledge. Also, the Senators have to sign and NDA so they can't even discuss the thing with their staffers or the public.

      That's just about the least possible disclosure one can give a document and say "we disclosed it" without being Struck Dead By The Lord For Lying.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 5:34pm

        Re: Re: Perhaps technically, yes

        I believe is also has "beware of leopard" on the front.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 5:47pm

        Re: Re: Perhaps technically, yes

        And of course adding insult to injury, and making it clear who's really in charge of the negotiations, while the representatives of the public have all those hoops to jump through, the industry reps have access to the documents any time they want, from their own offices.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 5:41pm

      Re:

      To my knowledge elected representatives have not been denied access to information by the USTR.

      There has been comment somewhere that they are not allowed to take aides from their staff (who may be specialised in the field(s) in question) (link, 2014), nor are they are not allowed to take notes on what they read themselves (link, 2015).

      Certainly, any 'public' deal where the details of the deal are to be withheld from the public for years (link, 2011) doesn't bode well for the public interest.

      The whole thing smacks of corruption.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 5:12pm

    If you're not at the table,

    you're on the menu.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 7:40pm

    Even the Australian government is whining about the US's ability to fast-track the trade agreement. Of course, neither the Australian government nor the Australian media actually know anything about the agreement. They just know that "no fast track = a comet will strike the planet".

    But on the positive side, if the inability to agree on a fast track in the US is sufficient to destroy the agreement in other countries, I'm all for it. It's not often I'd suggest this... but American politicians, keep bickering and arguing.

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

  • identicon
    David E.H. Smith, 17 Jun 2015 @ 10:12pm

    TPP Done Deal, Congress Just Needs a Bunch of ‘Incentives’ (Secret Goodies & 'Bun Buttering'

    TPP & Global Treaties/'Arrangements’;
    Please Don’t Make the Same Mistakes that ‘Canada’ is Continuing to Make

    Final Round? TPP Done Deal, Congress Just Needs a Bunch of ‘Incentives’ (Secret Goodies & 'Bun Buttering' from Taxpayers & ‘Considerations’ from those ‘Willing’ to Pay).

    Financially Ruinous PUNISHMENT of the harmless, (the little guy) Canadians by Corporate Canada’s (Harper’s) Deliberately Depriving Treaty Partners of Info.

    Is the secrecy surrounding the TPP & the flurry of Global Treaties/'Arrangements' greater, or, less than the secrecy that surrounded The Canadian ‘Cultural Genocide’; Corporate Canada & The Canadian Establishment Still Resolute, Without Remorse & Misleading other Treaty Signatories? As Pres. G.H. Bush said re; the NAFTA ‘dispute resolution’; ‘Well, you should have known…’

    If Not 'Treason', then, there are very compelling arguments for concluding that the corporations, whether they be, foreign, domestic, &/or, a blend, that do not respect the 'lesser' jurisdictions, ie. individual provinces, territories, states, or, municipalities, are not good corporate citizens of the host countries & thus, can be treated as 'persona non grata'.

    Should Congressmen & Parliamentarians Have to Sully Their ‘Beliefs’ & Sales Pitches with ‘Sordid’ Facts that Come from Actually Reading & Understanding Global Treaties/’Arrangements’? Should They be able to ‘Sully’ Others, or, Should They Only be able to Give Us the Facts so ‘We’ The People can Draw our Own Conclusions?
    And, if they didn’t Read the Treaties, then Who Developed the Treaties & thus, Who Is our ‘Contact’ Person that We can ask Our Questions?
    2 Republican Senators Admit that They Have read the TPP.
    Zero Canadian Admissions.
    Congress/Parliaments; Deluded, or, Deluding; 'IGNORAMUS et IGNORABIMUS' (I do not know & I will Not Know)?

    Corporations Cut Costs & Dramatically Increase flat Profits by Not Suing each Other & by Suing the Little Guy (via ‘your’ Gov’t.) who’s ‘Guilty’ even Prior to Tribunals & All of the Time.

    Teaching the Gordon Gekkos’ of Wall St., Congress, et al, some Humility & Integrity via Quantifying?

    Global Treaties/’Arrangements’ with their Secret ‘Death-Star-Chamber’ Tribunals that The Global (non BRICS) Corporate Economy is in the Process of Secretly Passing will Finally Legitimize its Ability to secretly move money around, ie. ‘launder’ without Fear of Legal/government Regulation; ie. It’s their Own Jurisdiction & they Insist that you Pay for it & Not them.

    Will TPP be Okay if ‘US’ corporations can Prove that they Won't Benefit from Partnerships that Try to Disguise that Corporate USA is Circumventing Other ‘Lesser’ Jurisdictions (State/Municipal)?
    ie. Corporations Need to Provide Proof of Non Circumvention of 'Lesser' Jurisdictions, or else, 'Non Good Corporate Citizens', & thus, 'Persona Non Grata'

    What is Governors’/ Premieres’ Rationale for not Defending Taxpayers; Provinces/States Colluding with Feds?

    Corporate America’s Last Chance to Legitimize their Fleecing the Little, harmless Guy (95% - 99% of U.S.) Before Tanking the Global (non BRICS) Economy? Exploitable ‘Vulnerabilities’, Holes & Back Doors to Close.
    Can ‘your’ Federal Reps Willingly Answer ‘your’ Questions below If They haven’t Read the TPP & other Global Treaties Just Ask them ‘For the (Your) Record’ & then Share Their Inability with Others.
    Don’t Forget to Demand Your Money Back for ‘Supplementing’ Fed Rep’s Wages & Future Considerations at Incompetency Tribunals.
    How many ‘Preferred’ Shares are You Selling Your Right to Sue The Global Corporate Economy for?

    Fast Tracking TPP & Global Treaties.
    part of corp. US's attempt to Increase $17+ Trillion Debt 'Earning$' & to Legitimize Hidden Earning$ in Untouchable Foreign Banks.
    Time to REPATRIATE 'Earnings'; NO FOREIGN Accountants, Banks, Services, etc.
    NO Trickle Down from Hiding ‘Earnings’ in Secret Off-Shore Accounts.

    Global Treaties Not about How Much Trade, but, How to & Who to Trade with to 'Undermine' AIIB.
    Shifting Costs to harmless Non Shareholders to Inflate ‘Profits & Dividends’.
    Is it Time to Cool off the 'Stockbrokers' again; Buy Gold?
    TPP & Global Corporate Treaties/’Arrangements more about Tort ‘Abolishment’ than Tort ‘Reform’?

    Making the leaders of TPP, Shareholders, et al, 'Persona non Grata'; Shareholders' Meetings I.D. Toxic Neighbors, In-laws, et al?

    But, If Not PUTIN; 'The WHITE KNIGHT', then Who Do YOU Want to Bankroll the Saving of the harmless NON shareholders of the World from Fast Tracking TPP's, CETA's (TTIP) Secret 'Death-Star-Chamber' Tribunal Penalties?
    Will Iran, China, the Muslim World, et al, Support Putin in Suits?
    How about Warren Buffett, &/or, the 'coveted' Hong Kong investor, et al?
    ***
    FULL Articles, see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com
    ***
    Please consider sharing the enclosed information & questions with 10 friends who will share it with 10 others...


    CAN

    TPP & Global Treaties/'Arrangements’;
    Final Round? TPP Done Deal, Congress Just Needs a Bunch of ‘Incentives’ (Secret Goodies from Taxpayers & ‘Considerations’ from those ‘Willing’ to Pay).

    Financially Ruinous PUNISHMENT of the harmless, (the little guy) Canadians by Corporate Canada’s (Harper’s) Deliberately Depriving Treaty Partners of Info.

    Is the secrecy surrounding the TPP & the flurry of Global Treaties/'Arrangements' greater, or, less than the secrecy that surrounded The Canadian ‘Cultural Genocide’; Corporate Canada & The Canadian Establishment Still Resolute, Without Remorse & Misleading other Treaty Signatories? As Pres. G.H. Bush said re; the NAFTA ‘dispute resolution’; ‘Well, you should have known…’

    If Not 'Treason', then, there are very compelling arguments for concluding that the corporations, whether they be, foreign, domestic, &/or, a blend, that do not respect the 'lesser' jurisdictions, ie. individual provinces, territories, states, or, municipalities, are not good corporate citizens of the host countries & thus, can be treated as 'persona non grata'.
    ***
    FULL Articles, see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com
    ***
    Please consider sharing the enclosed information & questions with 10 friends who will share it with 10 others...

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

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 11:41pm

    the NY Times presents the argument that with the failure of fast track, and very likely TPP with it, it could greatly diminish the US's influence in Asia.

    GOOD!!!!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2015 @ 1:51am

    the only thing that's going to be suggested is what has got to be done to change the wording and approach so as to get it through next time, under perhaps a new name and how to screw the public even more!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2015 @ 7:38am

    Passing trade deal = protectionism

    That sounds doubleplusgood to me.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:17am

    Would it be too far a reach to require that all future trade agreements be presented with absolute transperancy?

    I'm pretty sure that the only legit reason for laws to be passed without transparency to slip it past the parties that will suffer, e.g. the people.

    The fact that the TPP is on the table and is still secret is pretty much an admission that the US is once again a feudal oligarchy, and the people are entirely disenfranchised.

    We might as well get rid of the illusion of elections.

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

  • identicon
    Pragmatic, 19 Jun 2015 @ 5:51am

    Now really, Mike, you're not suggesting that our representatives engage in actual democracy, are you? For shame, sir!

    Well, well, it seems that authoritarianism doesn't have a partisan bias. Both sides do it.

    That's why I'm a Pirate.

    All FTAs should be negotiated out in the open where everyone can see what's in them so that our demands and needs are taken into account at all times. Isn't that what free trade and free markets are supposed to be about, but as I always say...

    ...ah, never mind. *Sigh!*

    Keep fighting it, people. We're winning this one, but believe me there are more to come.

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


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