Sunday, August 7, 2016

Understanding the Trans Pacific Partnership - By Peggy Ryan

Okay, I know you're not dummies – but if a book is required to break down Microsoft Word into simpler terms, then the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) requires a library.  The 2016 candidates both in local races (for example, Paul Nehlen vs. Paul Ryan in Wisconsin) and our presidential race are always talking about the horrors of TPP.  But the warnings fall on deaf ears because no one knows what TPP is.  Why the hysteria? 

What exactly is TPP (Obamatrade)?  TPP is a massive, pro-corporate trade agreement among the United States and 11 other countries.  So what's wrong with that?  Isn't this free trade?

Well, TPP is labeled a trade agreement, but only a fifth actually deals with trade.  Of TPP's 30 chapters, six deal with traditional trade issues. 

That's one red flag.  Another red flag is that TPP, like Obamacare, was negotiated in secret – no peeking, no sharing, no access.  This is how our government replaced the greatest health care system in the world with a shoddy third-world version that is destroying our economy: in secret, away from the American people's prying eyes. 

Another reason the government was able to push through Obamacare was the sheer size of the bill: 2,700 pages.  Congress didn't read it; no one did.  In fact, when Obamacare made it to the Supreme Court, the government lawyer suggested that the justices go through the 2,700-page bill to decide which parts were constitutional. 
The late Justice Antonin Scalia asked, "What happened to the Eighth  Amendment?" (The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.) "And do you really expect the Court to do that?  Or do you expect us to – to give this function to our law clerks?  Is this not totally unrealistic?  That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?"

If our fearless leaders couldn't get through 2,700 pages, they're not going to tackle the 6,000-page TPP.  So here we go again. 

Or maybe we can stop it this time – block TPP.  But first the people have to understand the bill, at least in part.  The simplest explanation I've seen is a statement from Senator Bernie Sanders's site.  He breaks out TPP as follows:

This trade deal would make it easier for corporations to shut down more factories in the U.S.  and ship more jobs to Vietnam and Malaysia where workers are paid pennies an hour.  The TPP is a continuation of our disastrous trade policies that have devastated manufacturing cities and towns all over this country from Newton, Iowa, to Cleveland, Ohio.  We need to rebuild the disappearing middle class, not tear it down.

Donald Trump has been trying to make this point, but the details are mind-numbing, and most don't understand the potential impact.  Bernie's words make it easy.  Instead of paying Americans a living wage to produce a product, the manufacturer will ship those jobs to countries where labor is damn near free.  Corporate profits up, Americans jobs gone, donors taken care of.

The TPP would allow foreign corporations to sue federal, state and local governments in an international tribunal for passing an increase in the minimum wage or any other law that could hurt expected future profits.

You read it right: TPP lets the world sue our government.  With all the frivolous lawsuits in America, imagine extending that privilege to an "international tribunal" and foreign corporations. 

At a time when prescription drug prices are skyrocketing, the TPP would make a bad situation even worse by granting new monopoly rights to big pharmaceutical companies to deny access to lower cost generic drugs to millions of people.

This means that your heart, cancer, diabetic or other necessary medication that you're now getting for a fraction of the cost will skyrocket to the full price of the name-brand drug.  Most of us can't even imagine the financial hit we will take on this little gem. 

Finally, Bernie mentions some of the bad players in this agreement:

Outrageously, the proposed agreement includes violators of international human rights, like Brunei, where gays and single mothers can be stoned to death and Malaysia where tens of thousands of immigrant workers in the electronics industry are working as modern day slaves.

Do Americans care about this?  Well, from Hillary Clinton's campaign, where she's taken millions (maybe billions) from countries with the same horrifying human rights records, maybe not.  But if we keep ignoring these countries' abuses, if we strengthen their economies and make them a power in today's world, it will eventually come to our shores.  The massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando is just a preview of coming attractions. 

So in summary:
  1. 1. TPP will have you compete for jobs with countries paying pennies an hour for labor
  2. TPP will allow foreign corporations to sue federal, state, and local governments in an international tribunal for passing any law that could hurt their future profits.
  3. TPP will force you to pay hundreds of dollars for a name-brand drug where you now buy generic for a fraction of the price
  4. The United States will be in business with countries who execute single women and gays and who run sweat shops on steroids.
And that's just what we know.  TPP, like Obamacare, will be the gift that keeps on giving.  No one really knows what's in it, but guaranteed it's another Pandora's box.  As more of the law leaks out, more of our freedoms and jobs will disappear.

But the saddest part of TPP and of Obamacare is that our government is not just too lazy to read these bills. They're not misinformed.  They actually conspire now against the American people.  The people have taken a back seat to the oligarchs and governments who have the cash.

I'm not a Sanders supporter, but Sanders at least made a valiant effort to expose Washington's corrupt underbelly.  He tried to stop TPP before it finishes off America.  But Bernie was up against massive power, the ruling elite, and he lost. 

Donald Trump is up against those same powerful people and organizations, against the entire world in large part, because of TPP.  These are rich corporations and foreign countries funneling cash into Congress, to the president, and to the Clintons.  These are countries and corporations who want complete control over America, our resources, our products, our lives.  TPP is a major step in that direction.

In fact, President Obama has threatened to pass TPP in a lame duck session even if Trump wins the election.  He probably has the votes to do that – our Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, our House speaker, Paul Ryan, and hundreds of others on the take will come through just as they did for the Iran deal and the Omnibus. 

This election really is a binary choice: Hillary Clinton, TPP, and tyranny or Donald Trump and a stake through TPP's heart, individual trade deals, and a powerful rejection of a global Big Brother.  Bernie started the fight.  It's up to we the people to finish it.