President Obama is a brilliant tactician. In order to get Trade Promotion Authority (fast-track) and ObamaTrade passed through Congress, he has hired a team of corporate lobbyists to promote them in Congress and has dangled an executive order to require disclosure of campaign spending by all federal contractors in front of democracy activists to distract them from the international, corporate coup des lois called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Unfortunately, the latter gambit is working. Washington-based public interest groups Public Citizen and People for the American Way are organizing rallies to push Obama to do what he would do on his own if he had the courage of his supposed “convictions.”
Four years ago President Obama considered signing an executive order to require disclosure of campaign donations by federal contractors, but the national Chamber of Commerce pushed back. Their chief lobbyist, Bruce Josten, told the NY Times, “We will fight it through all available means.” Cowered, the administration backed down. Now, just in time to push the “trade” deal we’ve deemed “Citizens United on crack,” the President is again considering signing such an order…only if he sees support for this from his allies in the professional left. Why now? Why not next fall? Why not just sign the damn executive order?
Public Citizen and People for the American Way have taken the bait, and by doing so they put the American democratic order at risk. How? Stopping ObamaTrade with a corporate-oriented Congress will require an “all-hands-on-deck” effort to turn enough Republicans and Democrats away from supporting the President’s corporate trade and regulation pacts, but they have “democracy leaders” busy planning rallies on April 2nd to ask Obama to sign an executive order. Dissent over this distraction on the “democracy leaders” list-serv is censored, and a question during a conference call with Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream about the priority of the executive order vs stopping the TPP was also censored.
What is the TPP? It is the dirtiest trade deal most folks have never heard of.
If you doubt that democratic order is at risk with “trade” deals like the TPP and TTIP, then you don’t understand the Investor State Dispute Settlement clause included in them. Senator Warren explained in a WaPo op-ed:
ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws — and potentially to pick up huge payouts from taxpayers — without ever stepping foot in a U.S. court. Here’s how it would work. Imagine that the United States bans a toxic chemical that is often added to gasoline because of its health and environmental consequences. If a foreign company that makes the toxic chemical opposes the law, it would normally have to challenge it in a U.S. court. But with ISDS, the company could skip the U.S. courts and go before an international panel of arbitrators. If the company won, the ruling couldn’t be challenged in U.S. courts, and the arbitration panel could require American taxpayers to cough up millions — and even billions — of dollars in damages.
If that seems shocking, buckle your seat belt. ISDS could lead to gigantic fines, but it wouldn’t employ independent judges. Instead, highly paid corporate lawyers would go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next. Maybe that makes sense in an arbitration between two corporations, but not in cases between corporations and governments. If you’re a lawyer looking to maintain or attract high-paying corporate clients, how likely are you to rule against those corporations when it’s your turn in the judge’s seat?
If the tilt toward giant corporations wasn’t clear enough, consider who would get to use this special court: only international investors, which are, by and large, big corporations.
What is the point of having corporations disclose their political contributions if policies intended to protect some public interest, such as clear air or clean water, will cost American taxpayers “protection fees,” a type of mafia governance? If ISDS tribunals are established under the TPP, we may as well just appoint transnational corporations to run the government and bypass elections altogether.
To be fair to Public Citizen, they understand the dangers of the TPP and have a staffer from the Global Trade Watch on the TPP organizing calls. PC organizer Jonah Minkoff-Zern believes it’s important for the democracy movement to attain small victories on the path toward overturning the anti-democratic Citizens United decision, but again, what’s the point if the President and Congress end up selling out the public interests to foreign corporations? To be fair to Minkoff-Zern, he did have a trade expert on the latest democracy leaders conference call to convey just how horrific the TPP would be. The most important victory a democracy movement can make is to stop these international regulatory treaties.
Because of opposition to Trade Promotion Authority (fast-track) expressed to date by constituents, that bill will not be introduced into Congress until April, after these ridiculous rallies are held. (Fast-track would prevent Congress from amending or modifying these “trade” pacts and force an up or down vote on complex, lengthy trade agreements within 90 days.) It will be interesting to see if “democracy leaders” will then turn their attention toward saving democracy from the international corporations aiming to undermine American laws in the name of profits.
Opposition to the TPA and the TPP is not just coming from labor organizations, Food and Water Watch, MoveOn.org, Progressive Democrats of America, etc. Many conservative organizations are also opposing “ObamaTrade” including TheTeaParty.net. Working with these groups to stop global corporate governance would be excellent experience for amendment groups who must have conservative support to be successful in the ratification process, and it would be an important victory against corporatocracy to add wind to their sails.
Another gambit that has been employed is the establishment of a “phony astro-turf group to put forward false propaganda.” Kevin Zeese, organizer with Popular Resistance, explains:
A new group is making the outrageously false claim that rigged trade is good for American jobs. The name of the group is even false: Progressive Coalition for American Jobs, as it is neither progressive nor good for American jobs. Daily Kos reports the group is led by former Obama staffers including “Obama campaign alumni Mitch Stewart, the Battleground States Director for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and Lydia Tran, the former National Press Secretary for Organizing for America.”
The group is based on a big lie, in fact Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post gave the claim of job creation four Pinocchio Noses — the highest dishonesty score possible. Kessler describes claims of job creation by the Obama administration to be concocted and that most economists will not make such claims. Rather than 650,000 jobs as the administration claims, Kessler finds this false and says 0 jobs will be created. In fact, similar jobs claims were made for previous trade agreements which in fact the agreements have lost jobs. Reuters reports: “Nearly 5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs — one in four — have been lost since NAFTA and the various post-NAFTA expansion deals were enacted through fast track.” And, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports: 3 out of 5 displaced workers who found a job are earning less money and one-third took a pay cut of 20% or more.
Why is President Obama pushing what WA state Senator Maralyn Chase calls “global, corporate governance” that would impose top-down decision making and render our federalist form of government largely moot? We can only guess, but he is setting himself up as a traitor. Strong word, traitor; but consider: dictionary.com defines traitor as “a person who betrays another, a cause, or any trust.” Obama is not just betraying his base of supporters; he is betraying every American tax payer who will pay for the decisions of the ISDS tribunals. He is also betraying the principles of federalism and self-government. If the TPP gets through Congress, it won’t matter who gets elected because foreign corporations will have established many of the rules all Americans, including their elected representatives, will have to abide by. Minimum wage? Too expensive for foreign corporations, and our government may get sued for having it set too high. Clean water? We’ll have to make protection payments for that. It gets worse.
As reported in the video above, the TPP has no separation clause. If these international, corporate rules pass Congress, Americans will have to elect a president willing to break a treaty, a very serious matter, but hardly unprecedented. For Obama, it gets worse.
The Trade Promotion Authority would be unconstitutional. These “trade agreements” are, in fact, treaties that become the supreme law of the land. They should not be passed by simple majorities in both houses of Congress, but ratified by 2/3rds support in the U.S. Senate. The President knows the TPP will never attain that much support due to opposition within his own party, so — like presidents going back to Richard Nixon — he is asking Congress to violate the Constitution by calling regulatory treaties “trade agreements” and attempting to “fast-track” these them.
Obama declared, the night before his first election to the White House, that he would fundamentally transform America if elected. We know now what he meant. He is aiming to turn our government of, by and for the people into a form of international, corporate fascism. If James Madison were alive, he’d break into the White House, grab the President by the scruff of the neck and toss him out. Seriously, what is the point of electing Democrats who govern like corporate-oriented Republicans? Again, if the TPP and the “undemocratic” Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Pact are passed using fast-track, it won’t matter what party is elected. All elected officials will have their powers limited by the “supreme law of the land,” i.e., corporate treaties deceitfully called “trade agreements.”
Ezra Klein at Vox believes people should first “read the final text” before jumping to conclusions. He also reports:
This is, the Obama administration thinks, a “put up or shut up” moment for America. We talk a big game about wanting to be the global leader and fearing that China, with its autocratic government and abysmal labor and environmental standards, will supersede our influence in other developing countries. But if we’re going to stop that, we need our leadership to be more than talk. If America’s trade deal collapses while China’s succeeds, it will convince a lot of these countries that America’s political system doesn’t work smoothly enough to provide the kind of leadership we once did.
It’s one thing to create trade agreements that benefit a nation’s citizens; it’s another thing altogether to render federalism and self-rule obsolete. Klein doesn’t understand: it doesn’t matter what the rules imposed on Americans and their representatives in government will be; the TPP regulations will be enforced by an ethically conflicted, corporate kangaroo court with no appeal to a genuine court. This much we do know about this corporate coup des lois (takeover of laws) American traitors are attempting to impose. If TPP and TTIP pass through Congress under TPA, America’s political system won’t work for the people here. There are much better alternatives. We can have federalist democracy and a sustainable future, or we can have global, corporate rule. Only liars would claim we can have both.
Use this site to call Congress to encourage a “no” vote on the TPA and please share it with others in the coming weeks. http://www.stopfasttrack.com/
Update, 4/28/2015: Rallies were held around the nation on April 2nd pushing the President to sign the EO he’s dangling out in front of democracy activists, and thousands of signatures have been collected online in support of the EO. If this EO were not just a ploy to distract activists from opposing Obama’s attempted coup des lois, he would have signed the damn EO by now. People are being played by the most brilliant fraud to occupy the White House in the last 100+ years. It’s time they wake up and smell the corruption: Obama has been captured by Wall St.