In this blog, I will be discussing TPP. It is my opinion that if TPP is to be approved by the U.S. congress, that all U.S. workers should also insist on reforms benefiting the middle class. This should include improvements like checking the abuse by U.S. companies in the usage of the H1B and other foreign worker visa programs, as well as the wholesale off-shoring of U.S. jobs. In addition, to better the U.S. worker’s living conditions, there should be enacted a minimum wage rate of $12.00 to $15.00 per hour with annual increases tied to the rate if inflation. Finally, the student college loan burden needs to be addressed. In summary, the TPP should NOT pass without the simultaneous establishment of legislation favorable to the middle class.
After years of negotiation, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries have finally reached an accord and signed it on February 4, 2016. Now the TPP agreement has to work its way through the U.S. congress in the middle of a contentious 2016 presidential election year. The TPP member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s intent with TPP is to establish trade with other pacific -rim (Eastern Asia) countries so that China does not end up writing all the rules for the global economy and /or to insure that the well-being of the U.S economy is not so dependent on the ups and downs of China’s stock market. President Obama wants the U.S. to write the rules, regarding the creation of new markets for American products while maintaining high standards of protection for workers while preserving our environment.
As usual, the devil is in the details, especially after what the American middle class has endured with the passage of the last major trade bill, NAFTA, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on December 8. 1993. So for the past 22 years, average Americans have become increasingly fearful that their ability to provide for their families is becoming an impossible task. Now they are suspicious that with the TPP deal, that they will again be cast aside in favor of lawmakers catering to big business at their expense. And they have every right to be skeptical based on past experience.
U.S. workers have not reaped any real benefits from the passage of NAFTA in 1993. Businesses have suppressed wages for years while productivity has increased; they have hired cheaper labor to replace U.S. workers from overseas contractors via H1B and L1B foreign worker visas; they have off-shored millions of U.S. jobs for about 2 decades; they have fought the expansion of unions; and they enabled the creation of the 2008 Wall Street collapse, which cost too many Americans their homes, financial ruin, pension losses, etc., And then our college grads are burdened with mortgage sized college loans. To add insult to injury, too many of these young professionals are not finding jobs commensurate with their skill levels when they do graduate with a college degree.
President Barack Obama will have his hands full, to push the acceptance of the TPP accord through the U.S. congress in the presidential election year of 2016. He will have to count on many of the same republicans who approved in 2015, the fast-track trade authority, which allows for a vote on the Pacific-rim deal without the threat of amendments or filibuster.
Establishment republicans who usually can be counted on to be favorable to business trade deals are now facing their nemesis. On November 9, 2015, republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made Breitbart’s head line news, “Exclusive-Donald Trump: Obama’s Trans-Pacific Free Trade Deal is Insanity.” The remaining republican presidential candidates have been somewhat mum on the subject of TPP because they support it. Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have even penned op-ed pieces in favor of TPP.
The 2016 democrat presidential contender Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders has been a vocal strong opponent of the TPP agreement since its inception.
The former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton who is the other democrat vying for the U.S. presidential position, has declared her opposition to TPP, as it stands in its final form in 2016. Scrutiny of her past record shows that until recently, she has been in favor of TPP and other trade agreements such as NAFTA which was signed off on by her husband, President Bill Clinton in 1993.
Mrs. Clinton has explained that she delayed making a final decision or for speaking on her thoughts about the TPP agreement until after she had a chance to review it in its final publication. Even these words raise doubts about her true feelings since the American peoples had access to the TPP contents as of mid November 2013, when Wiki Leaks released the text to the public.
The following are some excerpts about TPP from data which were shared with Wiki Leaks and then published on 11/13/13:
“WikiLeaks (11/13/13) released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The WikiLeaks release of the text comes ahead of the decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents. Significantly, the released text includes the negotiation positions and disagreements between all 12 prospective member states.
“Trade and Investment Partnership), for which President Obama initiated US-EU negotiations in January 2013. Together, the TPP and TTIP will cover more than 60 per cent of global GDP.”
“It has been previously revealed that only three individuals in each TPP nation have access to the full text of the agreement, while 600 ’trade advisers’ – lobbyists guarding the interests of large US corporations such as Chevron, Halliburton, Monsanto and Walmart – are granted privileged access to crucial sections of the treaty text.”
“The 95-page, 30,000-word IP Chapter lays out provisions for instituting a far-reaching, transnational legal and enforcement regime, modifying or replacing existing laws in TPP member states. The Chapter’s subsections include agreements relating to patents (who may produce goods or drugs), copyright (who may transmit information), trademarks (who may describe information or goods as authentic) and industrial design.”
“The longest section of the Chapter – ’Enforcement’ – is devoted to detailing new policing measures, with far-reaching implications for individual rights, civil liberties, publishers, internet service providers and internet privacy, as well as for the creative, intellectual, biological and environmental commons. Particular measures proposed include supranational litigation tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer, but which have no human rights safeguards. The TPP IP Chapter states that these courts can conduct hearings with secret evidence. The IP Chapter also replicates many of the surveillance and enforcement provisions from the shelved SOPA and ACTA treaties.”
“The consolidated text obtained by WikiLeaks after the 26-30 August 2013 TPP meeting in Brunei – unlike any other TPP-related documents previously released to the public – contains annotations detailing each country’s positions on the issues under negotiation.”