Obama’s Secret Trade Treaty on Steroids

ob3You have to pass the bill in order to find out what’s in it.  Sound familiar?   Unfortunately, this time it is much worse than ObamaCare, if that is even possible, it’s a trade treaty on steroids, another potential disaster from a proven liar that gives private corporations new tools to undermine national sovereignty and users’ digital rights well into the 21st century.

Obama’s favorite lap-dog, the New York Times’ editorial board has made a disappointing but not surprising  endorsement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), even though they have no idea what is in it – the actual text of the agreement remains secret.  That raises two distressing possibilities: either in an act of extraordinary subservience, the Times has endorsed an agreement that neither the public nor its editors have the ability to read. Or, in an act of extraordinary cowardice, it has obtained a copy of the secret text and hasn’t yet fulfilled its duty to the public interest to publish it.

Without disclosing the actual wording of the treaty agreement, the public is being forced into the uncomfortable position of taking  government statements at face value that fail to note the myriad ways in which TPP has been negotiated undemocratically, shutting out public oversight while permitting corporate interests to drive the agenda.

Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this treaty agreement would give private corporations new tools to undermine national sovereignty and the democratic process.  Because “investor-state dispute settlement,” slated for inclusion in both the TPP and the EU-US trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP),  would give multinational companies the power to sue countries over laws that might cut into expected future profits.  This could allow corporations to unravel any policy designed to protect users against violations of their right to privacy or free speech online.

If the far-left have their way,  Congress will hand over their constitutional mandate over US trade policy to Obama and future presidents  through fast track , aka the Trade Promotion Authority,  which would restrict lawmakers from having hearings on its provisions, limiting them to an up-or-down vote on the entire 29 chapter treaty.

Such a significant body of international law regulating digital policy must not be negotiated without proper, informed public debate.  The U.S. Trade Representative’s  history of pushing forth extreme copyright enforcement policies  through other trade agreements gives little assurance that users’ rights will be considered.

Trade representatives are working to finalize TPP negotiations by the end of the year.  Negotiators are scheduled to meet in Salt Lake City next week to negotiate outstanding issues in this agreement, including provisions on liability for Internet Service Providers and anti-circumvention measures over DRM.   Following that, trade delegates are seeking to finalize and sign this agreement in December in a ministerial meeting in Singapore.

According to the Washington Times, less than one fifth of the Trans Pacific Partnership deals with trade. The  remainder of the treaty governs a myriad of things, including regulating the  price of medicines. Most of the failed SOPA provisions are included in the TPP.

The TPP would provide big banks with a backdoor means of rolling back efforts to re-regulate Wall Street in the wake of the global economic crisis, requiring domestic law to conform to the now-rejected model of extreme deregulation that caused the crisis.

 Under TPP, American sovereignty would be erode, American courts would be inferior to foreign trade courts and disputes between  American citizens and foreign corporations would be litigated in trade tribunals.

And, If you think unemployment is bad now, just wait. According to leaks from the  Trans Pacific Partnership, the treaty will provide incentives for American companies to relocate overseas.   The TPP’s procurement chapter would require that all firms operating in any signatory country be provided the same equal access as domestic firms to U.S. government procurement contracts over a certain dollar threshold. The United States would agree to waive “Buy American” and “Buy Local” procurement policies for all such foreign firms, eliminating an important policy tool to use U.S. tax dollars for U.S. job creation.

If the treaty is good for America, why is it being negotiated in secrect?   Ron Kirk, the former trade representative who was negotiating the treaty,  said that if the treaty details were made public, the treaty would probably  never pass.   If this is true, then this treaty should never be signed, much less  ratified.

The biggest chance to kill this really bad idea is by denying Barack Obama fast  track authority.  With his  track record of lying to America, can we really trust him with  this kind of trade agreement?


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