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Free Trade Trouble

President Obama is pushing for two big new trade deals – in the Pacific, with Europe. Democrats are resisting. We’ll dig in.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, second right, speaks with his country's Trade Representative Michael Froman, as New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, second left, speaks with his Trade Minister Tim Groser, left, at the Trans-Pacific Partnership meet in Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. Leaders of the dozen countries involved in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership met in Bali after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to work on plans for a free trade area they hope will eventually encompass the entire region. (AP)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, second right, speaks with his country’s Trade Representative Michael Froman, as New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, second left, speaks with his Trade Minister Tim Groser, left, at the Trans-Pacific Partnership meet in Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. Leaders of the dozen countries involved in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership met in Bali after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to work on plans for a free trade area they hope will eventually encompass the entire region. (AP)

In 2014, Americans have had a lot of experience with global free trade.  It was 20 years ago this month that the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, went live.  We’ve seen and learned.  Now, President Obama is pushing for giant new free trade deals across the Atlantic and the Pacific.  And it’s rough going, starting in his own party.  Harry Reid may have driven a stake through the heart of the trade push yesterday.  It’s high stakes for labor, industry, jobs, global competition.  This hour On Point:  free trade now, and “high noon” for big deals with Europe and the Pacific.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

William Mauldin, international economics and trade correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. (@willmauldin)

Jim Kolbe, senior transatlantic fellow for the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Former 11-term Congressman (R-Arizona). Strategic consultant to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research. (@markweisbrot)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Reid Deals Body Blow to Obama on Trade — “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke publicly with the White House Wednesday on trade policy, instantly imperiling two major international trade deals and punching a hole in one piece of the economic agenda the president outlined in his State of the Union address a day earlier. Mr. Reid told reporters he opposed legislation aimed at smoothing the passage of free-trade agreements, a vital component to negotiating any deal, and pointedly said supporters should back down.”

The Guardian: NAFTA: 20 years of regret for Mexico — “Our neglected infrastructure aside, it is easy to see that NAFTA was a bad deal for most Americans. The promised trade surpluses with Mexico turned out to be deficits, some hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost, and there was downward pressure on US wages – which was, after all, the purpose of the agreement. This was not like the European Union’s (pre-Eurozone) economic integration, which allocated hundreds of billions of dollars of development aid to the poorer countries of Europe so as to pull their living standards up toward the average. ”

Washington Post: In Davos, nations vow to extend global trade deal — “WTO Director-General Robert Azevedo said negotiating process must be transparent and inclusive, so every member can have a voice and participate, but that ‘the do-ability test is very important” in working toward an expanded free-trade deal that balances “ambition and realism.’ The Bali deal could boost global trade by $1 trillion over time, and its centerpiece was an agreement on measures to ease barriers to trade by simplifying customs procedures and making them more transparent.”

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  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com/ tombstone001

    You are saying free trade agreements, I see the foundations of “one world government” with enslavement of the masses.

  • spiral007

    Both the deals (TPP and TTIP) are being done in secret; even the congressional staff have no access to the draft documents; the congressmen are only able to look at these in secret rooms, with no ability to take notes. Then the congress will be asked for ‘fast track’ authority which is an up and down vote on a deal no one would have had a chance to vet.

    The question to be asked is why is it being done in such a way and the answer is that it is being done by western global corporations for their benefit.

    Would your guests care to comment on the supposed recommendation of ‘private courts’ outside the purview of UN making binding findings related to topics on IP (drug patents)….etc.

    • PithHelmut

      Secrecy like the Cone of Silence in the serial “Get Smart”. How laughable in a democracy. You can’t take notes from the draft! Oh pease, the TPP is so insulting to human intelligence and genuineness.

  • Jasoturner

    Free trade is not fair trade. However, when there are profits to be made, you can usually figure out the storyline pretty quickly. Job opportunities and quality of life for average American citizens are secondary considerations in the theology known as “free trade”.

  • andrewgarrett

    Globalization has hugely benefited the poorest people on planet. 42 percent of humanity lived in dire poverty in 1990. Today the percentage of humans in poverty is the lowest ever, about 20 percent. That’s an amazing difference – almost a billion people escaping poverty in two decades. But since it doesn’t fit with their world view, so-called progressives oppose globalization. They want (other) people to live in picturesque poverty with subsistence farms, no electricity, no jobs, and high infant mortality rates. Yes, I get it – if brown people have paint factories in their countries they’ll probably dump the paint waste in the rivers, just like we did decades ago. But this isn’t about environmental protection. It’s about we in the rich world wanting a kind of 1950s-style planet, where we can take for granted 21st century technology and the rest of the world can live “traditional” life styles. And we get to go trekking there, so it’s cool.

    • northeaster17

      The pollution of modern industry has moved way past and has become much more compicated than locals dumping paint in rivers. As if that is alright. As a matter of fact it can be seen that pollution from Asia is having global effects.
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140121130034.htm

      As if manufacturers don’t have long enough leashes it is agreements like this that further shield them from any legal consequences for the damage they do and profit greatly from. Locals barely factor into the equation. Also I am curious about the source of your percentages. Signed…Just another happy go lucky Trekker

    • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

      The problem with all this is the “out of sight, out of mind” factor of human nature. We tend not to care, or even think about, the things we can’t see, touch, hear, smell, etc. The farther away from us our means of life are located, the easier it becomes for things to go way off the rails. Only by direct familiarity with where our goods come from will we be able to manage the means of producing them well.

  • wauch

    Look as long as our politicians continue to listen to free-marketeers at Brookings, Heritage, AEI, and the halls of the Ivy League business schools we will have hollowing out free trade agreements that both parties seem to salivate for. The TTIP and TPP are glorified only for their positives, which will eventually migrate to the traditional top 0.1-1.0% that convened last week at Davos.

    The Economist laid out both in a really good piece but they to focus only on positives. It is as if we managed our bank accounts focusing only on what is coming in and ignoring what is going out. Eureka life is grand.

    http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21590481-negotiations-global-trade-deal-run-last-minute-problems-grain-and

  • NewtonWhale

    I supported NAFTA in the ’90′s.

    I was wrong.

    Ross Perot was right.

    Are we deaf? Can’t we hear that “Giant Sucking Sound” he warned about? Let’s not play that tune again.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rkgx1C_S6ls

    Looks Like Ross Perot Was Right About The “Giant Sucking Sound”

    Perot is famous (among other things) for his statement during the 1992 presidential campaign that if NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) was not a two way street would create a “giant sucking sound” of jobs going south to the cheap labor markets of Mexico.

    Both of Perot’s opponents (George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton) argued that NAFTA would create jobs in the U.S. because of business expansion.

    However, the goods balance of trade for the U.S. with Mexico has been negative and steadily growing over the years. In 2010 it amounted to $61.6 billion, which was 9.5% of the total goods trade deficit last year.

    So Perot has been vindicated in his opinion; expanded free trade has not been accompanied by an increase in jobs in the U.S. relative to the vast numbers of jobs created in the rest of the world as NAFTA became just a stepping stone on the pathway to global commerce.

    Just how much the giant vacuum has been collecting has been calculated at GEI Analysis. The results are shown in the following two graphs. The first shows manufacturing jobs lost each year starting with 1992 that are equivalent to the U.S. goods trade deficits over the past 19 years. The second shows the cumulative job loss, amounting to almost 29 million jobs by the end of 2010.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/looks-like-ross-perot-was-right-about-the-giant-sucking-sound-2011-2#ixzz2rtPHpRon

    • DeJay79

      if only an intelligent person was likeable enough to get elected and strong enough to hold true to what they believe.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        We had our chance with Ron Paul. Anti War, Anti Bankers. 2 biggest problems of our generation(s).

        But no, he wasn’t slick enough. And smearing him with the fringes of his past, to protect the status quo from his core messages, just to much fun.

        Perot… Strike one.

        Paul… Strike two.

    • TFRX

      Admitting you were wrong?

      I’m sorry, but you’re about the fourth person ever to do that on the internets.

    • Don_B1

      I understand your change of heart; certainly one of the big problems was the lack of adequate support for U.S. workers impacted by the new competition from other countries in the NAFTA accord. It is also true that it occurred at a time of technological change that further confounded and stressed workers’ position in the marketplace, and the successful campaign by business to cripple unions was probably the biggest force harming the U.S. worker.

      Note though, that andrewgarret couple (sub?)threads earlier makes the absolutely true statement that “free trade” has improved the lives of much of the world’s poor, and that will help the U.S. in the future as those in the world who have something to lose are much less likely to support radical actions, which can reduce the costs of our defence as well as provide new markets for our goods and services. But this transition period is certainly “a period to try men’s souls”!

      What is particularly distressing is the way the information that has “leaked” about its actions which again do not provide much protections for the American worker, or, if they do, those protections have not leaked (yet?). It would seem that the high-level business people and politicians are willing to continue taking 90% or more of the gains for the rich and give basically nothing to the middle- and lower-income workers of the U.S. (and probably all the other countries also).

  • Shag_Wevera

    For the average person, free trade SUCKS. Prove me wrong.

  • J__o__h__n

    We should only make trade deals with nations that pay comparable wages, have environmental regulation, and have safety standards. Our middle class isn’t being hollowed out by competing with Germany.

    • margbi

      You bet. Who was responsible for mitigating the building collapse in Pakistan which killed more than a thousand workers? Who would be responsible with these agreements? And I don’t mean by suing sovereign governments in order to get the laws changed.

    • Don_B1

      @margbi:disqus

      J_o_h_n: I agree that what you want has to be the objective of trade agreements, but some trade has to begin before those conditions can exist. The poor countries have to be generating money to put those regulations into effect.

      But that does not mean that the trade pact cannot put measures into the agreement to require improvements in all the environmental and working conditions you mention. Additionally, passage of this pact must be accompanied by much better (and costly) support for displaced workers here, and Republicans must be a big part of that support, demonstrating that they do understand the costs of such pacts.

      Measures need to be put in place to make the next (this) round work for all better than NAFTA and the other pacts that have followed it.

  • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

    Ultimately, it is how we shop – what we buy and who we buy it from. It is not just government doing this, it is our culture of “lowest prices at any cost.” mentality. Those WalMart ads with the falling price numbers say it all. Those ads teach us greed above all else (not just for Wall Street, but for all of us).
    When we shop for the lowest prices, we’re ignoring all the other factors: Where did this come from? Who made (or mined or farmed) this? How much were they paid? What was done to the environment to make this? Where does most of the money I’m paying go? What happens if it breaks or wears out?
    Low prices are the pied piper of wealth inequality. Buying cheap goods would seem to make us richer. In fact, it’s counter intuitive. It actually makes us poorer, since most of what we pay enriches the rich, who reap their margins from big box stores and transportation & storage systems, and the things that really matter, the workers and the environment, get pennies.

    • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

      If we buy what’s made locally, even if the price is higher, we help circulate money in our own communities, instead of sending it away elsewhere. If we make goods that can be repaired or disassembled to be recycled more easily, then we keep jobs here (to repair or recycle).
      But if we just buy for the lowest price always, we are putting on blinders, and we are only hurting ourselves in the process.

      • TFRX

        And what happened to talk of the mulitplier effect? It should not be something that has to be reintroduced on NPR’s economics coverage from the ground up.

    • Don_B1

      I think what you are saying is that the “price” at the Walmart or Target store does not represent all of the external costs: the damage to the environment from manufacturing abroad where waste can just be dumped on the land or in the water, additional CO2 put in the atmosphere from electric power generation from inefficient (not all third world plants are state of the art) coal plants, etc.

      Economists (at least since Adam Smith) call these externalities, and they need to be considered when making purchases. A big problem there is that most people have no idea of how to determine them, which makes the “buy local” a reasonable response although it is not a panacea. On at least some things, it is quite likely that the imported item is the totally cheaper one.

      Part of what shoppers need to consider is the wages of the workers where they shop, since that is a big factor in their own local economies. Demos has performed a study which shows that Walmart workers could be paid much more while only raising the cost of a typical customer’s basket of purchases per trip by less than a dollar. It would seem to be a small price to pay for a better economy which would put more than a dollar in each person’s wallet.

  • George Potts

    We give poor people food stamps so that they can buy cheap crap from China.

    Instead, we should put in trade restrictions so that they have to spend $200 for a pair of pants.

  • Kara Kaufman

    Proponents of Fast Tracking the TPP claim the legislation will increase transparency of the so-far highly secretive agreement. Doesn’t the legislation just force Congress to tacitly approve the agreement before knowing what’s in it? Isn’t that extortion?

    • Coastghost

      Neither secrecy nor transparency forestalled Congress’s approval of the (Un)Affordable Care Tax Act, even though we still have not learned all the gory details about what lurks in the duly-passed legislation. (And the Democrats style themselves as the party of “transparency”.)

  • CS

    Why exactly is the TPP shrouded in so much secrecy? If its provisions are so controversial that the public–and even Congress–needs to be kept in the dark, doesn’t this effectively undermine our democracy and how could it possibly be good for people?

  • DeJay79

    Call me a selfish American but “free trade” of the past has done nothing but cost the American work our livelihood.

    However, if this new free trade deal is only with nations that currently have workers with higher rates of pay then us then this new deal could acutely benefit us.

    But if there is one country that has cheaper labor then America then this will only help the rich save more money in producing and purchasing their goods.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Take cheap oil out of the picture, and “free” trade will be a lot more costly.

    • northeaster17

      It used to be that a broken appliance, a washer an air conditioner, could be fixed. No more. When products are manufactored to be chucked instead of fixed it is a waste of escalating proportions.

      • TFRX

        Wasn’t Europe way out in front re some laws about manufacturing on that, making things easily dissembled and/or marked for recycling?

        (This is from memory, perhaps the pre-internet days.)

        • northeaster17

          Mayby but then again Germany does not seem to fit that mold.

          • TFRX

            Ugh. I can’t find a cite on it. Eleventy gazillion hits for “European law factory recycling” says something about the mindset there.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        The term I have learned for this is “designed for the dump”. It is cheaper to throw it away and buy a new one.

        But *where *is “away”?

        • margbi

          Alas, there is no away, away. As was said about someplace in California “There is no there, there.”

    • tbphkm33

      Yep, rising oil prices do favor domestic manufacturing. Also the quality aspect is critical to retaining and building US production. Too many US companies try to compete on price, when they should be competing on quality.

  • Minor Heretic

    Can we just acknowledge that the term “free trade” is a lie? The trade in question is trade across national borders. Borders are restraints; intrinsically not free. Part of the very definition of a nation is control of its borders. “Free trade” means corporate sovereignty. It’s not about improving our lives. It’s about changing the rules to benefit large international corporations.

    Likewise “free market.” A market is a set of rules – intrinsically not free. When a business flack says “free market” he means “change the rules to benefit me.”

  • joseph makela

    get ready to drink French milk folks. This is another pusch from Big Biz to eliminate any sense of community/Nationhood.

  • joseph makela

    i am waiting for legal action to claim our most important natural resource – water.

    • TFRX

      Part of me wants to say “ixnay on the aterway” lest Canada remember that they have so much of it and might not just let the US take it so willy-nilly.

  • northeaster17

    As far as the new agreemant goes. How can we know the assesments are incorrect. So much secrecy

  • PithHelmut

    Since the treaty is shrouded in secrecy, there’s a reason for that. We are a democracy! The people are to know what our public servants do in our name. The president is a public servant too. The excuse that it is difficult to negotiate is not an excuse. There is no excuse for secrecy in trade agreements!

  • DeJay79

    THE American worker does not live in Mexico….. So why Look at how nice things might be (not that I believe that they are) but why look at them JIM??

  • J__o__h__n

    Why does he think that jobs coming back to Mexico from China is relevant?

  • Zack Smith

    These “free trade” deals are far from free. Rather, they are typically mercantislism in disguise, with special carve-outs and privileges that favor big busines business interests. http://archive.mises.org/7889/free-trade-versus-free-trade-agreements/

  • Erma Sidelines

    Please ask Mr Weisbrot to be explicit about the way in which a ratified TPP moots local regulatory activity whenever it is in conflict with a corporate partner’s expectation for profit.

    • BMiller600

      Indeed.

  • BMiller600

    Tom–I love you dearly, but you and we all should really listen to what Mark Weisbrot is trying to get across about the quite serious dangers of the TPP. You keep interrupting him–mid-sentence!

  • J__o__h__n

    I thought David Brooks was sounding too reasonable for it to be him.

  • jefe68

    The Obama administration is reportedly preparing to undermine strong environmental safeguards in trade talks with 11 other Pacific Rim countries. New documents released by WikiLeaks show the White House is ready to backtrack on a series of critical regulations in order to secure a deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These include legally binding requirements for pollution limits, logging standards, and a ban on the harvesting of shark fins.

    Source: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/15/headlines/report_us_prepared_to_scrap_environmental_rules_to_win_tpp_deal

    • northeaster17

      Hence the secrecy.

  • TFRX

    Which guest said the magic word “protectionist” to describe people who don’t want this TPP?

    I’m surprised it took 40 minutes.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      As if working for $13/month actually helps anybody in some other country.

  • tbphkm33

    I work on a daily basis with SME’s (small- and medium-size) manufacturers who benefit from trade deals. Not just through NAFTA, but through trade deals amongst other blocks where they might do partial or final assembly in exchange for a larger market share – and at the end of the day, more work at home. There are millions of jobs that are dependent upon trade and are bolstered by trade deals.

    Having said that, two “problems”: a) trade deals often benefit the large corporations the most, b) state and federal government fails in helping SME’s take advantage of foreign markets. Federal government international business assistance (Commerce Dept) is focused on large corporations, and states tend to cherry pick industries and regions they favor, without any regard to a companies individual product are targeted markets.

    By and large, US manufacturing is recognized as second to Germany in terms of quality. SME’s have have great opportunities overseas, but government efforts could be restructured to better assist companies to compete in foreign markets.

    • BMiller600

      Most of the issues people have with the TPP revolve around the large majority of chapters that go beyond the trade issues you discuss. There are items added by the hundreds of industry reps who have been involved in the largely secret negotiations that will benefit them at the expense of others, which is why so many are rising up, here and abroad.

      There are the tribunals that would allow foreign corporations to sue other governments that enact regulations and laws that hurt their bottom line, even those which protect the health of citizens and the environment.

      The language in the environment chapter includes no specific or binding commitments regarding climate change–no agreements or stated consequences for damages done. It is full of phrases like, “we recognize that climate change is…” and “we will make every effort to…” If issues go into arbitration, “they will be discussed”. In a world where we are all spewing carbon and methane, one clause states that countries can’t go after others for doing what they are also doing. We should not be entering into contracts and agreements that in any way limit our ability to decide and change our minds about what endeavors we or other countries want to pursue or align ourselves with.

      Also, look into the patents issue. Our drug costs have been some of the highest on the planet, but our pharmaceutical companies at this table seek to expand our drug patent system in poorer countries, decreasing their access to generics–and general access to the formulas needed to make generics in a timely way. .

      It’s disappointing that the President would go along with so many aspects of this, but asking Congress to “fast-track”an agreement that only business interests have weighed in on and helped write is hard to fathom. I get that he’s been undermined by Congress at every turn and is looking for ways to by-pass them, but that’s simply not appropriate in this case.

  • spiral007

    Tom, I hate to do this to you, but Diane Rehm had a great guest on Dec 17, who did a much better job at describing the non trade aspects of TPP. her name is: Lori Wallach director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. Your listeners need to read the transcript of that show.

  • jefe68

    I really wish Tom would stop interrupting the guest in mid sentence. Please let them finish their thought.

    • tbphkm33

      Hey quiet… I’m trying to hear what he said… :)

  • LostInSight

    1) The point of “Free Trade” is “efficiency”, and the benefits of efficiency go the wealthy, not to the people, not to the health of the planet.
    2) These trade deals seem to be doing an end run around constitutional, democratic process by creating a law – through treaty – which is superior even to the constitution!
    3) The problem with the economy isn;t that we need to “grow”. The problem is that we are dependent on the consumption of stuff for our economic vitality. Better we spend our energies figuring out how to live on the planet without more efficiency.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      You are right, liberty and democratic constitutional self-governance is not designed with efficiency as its number one goal.

      That is why so many self-righteous people who are convinced they have the “best” answers, (technocrats, nanny state proponents) hate it, and pine for the opportunity for benevolent dictatorial powers.

      To use the pen, so to speak.

      This issue is just more command and control power grabbing in the name of efficiency or knowing better.

      But if Dems want to play with such command and control, we know best, don’t worry about the views of the 49%, they shouldn’t be surprised when those “means justify the ends” tactics come back and bite them.

      Not to mention the leveraging of corruption whenever power is centralized, let alone secret and unaccountable.

      Liberty is right not because it is necessarily efficient, although the free markets that spring out of free thought and free contractual relationships usually are, it is right because it the Means of a free people.

      Once we put the Ends above that, it all starts to rot.

      We really live in insane times, with people just rolling over to issues of secret NSA, secret non-sovereign trade deals, secret Wall St/Treasury bailouts.

      All for our own good. Right.

      The sad truth is most people just don’t care. The appreciation of the connection between our form of PARTICIPATORY Constitutional Self-Government, and the prevention of the tyrannical use of Power, is gone. People deride the Constitution and the word liberty today, with no clue of how horribly they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

      • LostInSight

        Your comment is interesting to me because some of your rhetoric sounds tea-party-ish, while mine is likely to sound left-ish, and yet it would seem we agree on significant points. The left doesn’t use the word “liberty” because it is essentially owned by the right. But we do talk about human rights, civil rights and personal dignity. I would be interested in a conversation about how and where we agree, even if we are divided by language. I think there are differences in our world view, but the root desire, for the right to self-determination, to pursue self-care, are common to us. The differences are in strategy and iconography, and these may be obstacles, but it might advance our shared aspirations if we could talk to each other.

        • Government_Banking_Serf

          Its the Ron Paul/Ralph Nader overlap that so many around here like to scoff at. Did you follow much of that in previous years?

          To me the big problem is the power elite. Their use of State Capitalism/Corporatism/Crony Capitalism to game the system and cycle the DNC/RNC status quo stooges around to placate our quaint idealogical swings. while in reality they keep power much further from the People than the Founder and Constitution framers ever envisioned, or that Constitutionally-limited, Self-Government and separation of powers as a check agains tyranny promises.

          I think the fact that so many have abandoned the concept of Liberty, because they are afraid of being tainted by some hyperbolic image of a right wing lunatic, is a very damaging trend. In that regard, the anti-liberty, anti-people vs establishment forces are way ahead.

          To me this makes building bridges between the Pauls and Widens, the Lees and Kucinichs, much more important than remaining pure to our knee-jerk partisan corners.

          Take the issues of overlap between Paul and Nader, and imagine a society where even just those things were implemented or followed, and imagine how much better off we could be than the 2 party, Washington/Wall St cabal that plays us for fools while skimming all that free Fed money off the top, leaving us with the chaos that will follow.

          In that regard, we are Government Banking Serfs.

  • Jengliu

    If congress is fanatic enough to force Obama’s administration to fend off influx of non-documented immigrants, they should be even more vigilant against job-takers under the disguise of “free trade”.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    So lets see…… we can’t see what our government is negotiating in regards to our sovereignty and granting power to unaccountably entities, but….. they can read our emai!?

  • Marvin Westen

    1. The so-called Free Trade agreements may be a free pass for businesses, but the regular guys caught holding the bag pay the price in terms of reduced ‘competitive’ wages.

    2. Fast Track authority cuts the Peoples’ branch of government out of the discussion.

    3. I have supported President Obama on everything he has done — but not this mess.

  • jimino

    How much more coverage of actions like this by the Obama administration (along with such things as a free pass for Wall St. fraud, mandatory health insurer profiteering in the name of health care reform, big pharma give aways) will the irrational right need to hear before they comprehend that he is the antithesis of a Marxist-socialist-etc. and that they are being totally played by the big business/financial sector corporatocracy no less than those on the other side of the spectrum are being similarly played?

  • Shakingmyhead01

    Canada built a vibrant middle class in the years before and after World War II by adopting a high tariff policy. To get around those tariffs many foreign companies, largely American, set up special operations north of the border to sell to the Canadian marketplace. Once the duties were phased out under the original Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and then NAFTA, corporation after corporation closed their branch plants and simply shipped their products up from their U.S. facilities. Worse, under Section 11 of NAFTA that allows foreign corporations to sue partner countries for actions that might infringe on their right to maximize profits, Canada has had to compensate several American companies, often over sensible health and safety legislative action. The first high-profile case saw Virginia-based Ethyl Corporation awarded upward of $250 million after Ottawa banned a gasoline additive called MMT that it produced.
    Close to 15 years ago the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) was scuttled after the proposed corporate agenda leaked out and political opposition grew.
    Increased awareness and public opposition to the TPP might be the only hope to water down or even kill such a deal this time.

  • PARAGONofVIRTUE

    THE SO-CALLED “TRADE” DEALSUPERSEDES OUR CONSTITUTION. THAT’S REASON ENOUGH TO SAY FERGIT ABOUT IT.
    WE COULD BE SUED FOR PASSING LAWS TO PROTECT OUR LOCALLY GROWN ORGANIC FOOD.
    THESE GUYS ARE LYING SUNNUVVABEECHTREES WHO ARE SAYING THIS WOULD WORK.TO BENEFIT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE – - THIS IS CORPORATE BRIGANDAGE.
    WE AMERICANS CANNOT SEE THIS LAW – - BUT LAWYERS FROM 600 CORPORATIONS ARE WRITING THE DAMN THING…
    CATCH A CLUE – - THIS IS THE BIGGEST SELLOUT THE CORPORATISTS COULD DREAM FOR?????
    QUIT PRETENDING THERE’S JOBS TO BE INCREASED WHEN STACKED UP AGAINST WORKERS THEY CAN PAY TWO DOLLARS A DAY!
    YOUR NAMBY-PAMBY PRETENSE THAT THERE’S A GAIN FOR AMERICAN WORKERS IS SO MEALY MOUTHED IT IS WSICKENING.

    • nj_v2

      Look toward the left end of your keyboard. See the key, “caps lock”? Press it before your type next time.

      • PARAGONofVIRTUE

        WHY DO YOU THINK I GIVE A FLAT FRYING FARMP WHAT YOU MEWL ABOUT?
        GOT ANYTHING RELEVANT TO THE TPP ON YOUR LITTLE NIT-PICK-FLAVORED BRAINPAN?

        OR DO YOU JUST LIKE TO DRIBBLE AND WHINE?

        MY VISION IS SUCH THAT I FIND IT EASIER TO READ LARGER TYPE.

        IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, GO EAT ERASERS…

  • PARAGONofVIRTUE

    “what’s up with this?” – - Did you not notice NO prosecutions for ruinous illegal banksterism? Bags of cash for Insurance companies instead of giving us HEALTH CARE!!??? What’s up is Obama is a TOTAL TOOL FOR CORPORATISM.- – wake up.

  • andic_epipedon

    After skimming the first few sections of the Wikileaks leaked environmental chapter I am appalled. We are going to be reduced to cheap Walmart garbage that breaks after a few uses causing undue harm to the environment.

    By my reading of this new trade agreement the environmental laws that protect me and my fellow beings are going to be handed over to our corporate overlords. It takes away my right to buy sustainably caught fish, high quality boots or have any market place say in how workers are treated.

  • Joe KomaGawa

    I am also opposed. I live in Japan. I am working here and looking at the global situation. We are going in the direction of a global society. However the way the TPP is being shaped, it is filled with inequality and concentration of the levers of power within that tiiny minority. This is the reason of my opposition.

  • Joe KomaGawa

    My high level English students have asked about the TPP because it is a big deal here. The US agribusinesses want to crack the tariff protection of the farmers (who were created by the US at the end of WWII and are very smpathetic to US interests). the people in the big cities pay an unfair price for agricultural products, esp. rice. TPP is being presented by the Abe government as a solution because it will benefit the consumers. The farmers are not supporting the TPP, and they are a a major political support (even the city people have grandparents on the farms. The US corporations will create some benefits but they will rule, and they are not Japanese (or any particular country’s loyalty)

  • Joe KomaGawa

    Of course the secrecy is created for efficiency’s sake. Just like a small working committee is appointed from a larger organization to investigate, research, and make a report to the larger organization. However with the TPP structure there is no answering to a larger organization until , what 3 years after it is signed by this small group of people? No one outside this group has any direct input until 3 years later????????
    of course the consultation, or open debate is a messy process, look at the UN General assembly meetings. BUT this is the only way forward. To bring everyone on the bus. It is the only fair way to create consensus. TPP is a top-down traditional way of making decisions. Like my father saying, “Don’t ask questions, I am doing this for your benefit. You will thank me when this is all over. I know what is best.” My father didn’t care about anyone outside his family, esp. minorities.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    “Steve argues that the rise of “kludgeocracy” is a blight that both progressives and libertarians have a shared interest in resisting. “We have arrived at a form of government,” he contends, “with no ideological justification whatsoever.””

    http://www.cato.org/blog/perils-assuming-can-opener

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    We really live in insane times, with people just rolling over to issues of secret NSA, secret non-sovereign trade deals, secret Wall St/Treasury bailouts.

    All for our own good. Right.

    The sad truth is most people just don’t care. The appreciation of the connection between our form of PARTICIPATORY Constitutional Self-Government, and the prevention of the tyrannical use of Power, is gone. People deride the Constitution and the word liberty today, with no clue of how horribly they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    Rule of Law, Not Men (Secret Trade deals and technocratic rule)

    The Ends don’t Justify the Means (NSA)

    No such thing as a Free Lunch (Fed printing presses)

    FDR decrying public sector unions as a laughable logical absurdity (justifiable entitlements gone wild)

    Eisenhower’s Military Industrial Complex (Iraq)

    But we’re too cool or busy for such quaint truisms now. We have iPods, derivatives, public-private partnerships, those other ideas are so…….1700s!

  • Sasha Patino

    World Bank tariff data
    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/TM.TAX.MRCH.WM.AR.ZS

    I agree with Mr. Weisbrot. This agreement is not about free trade. Tariffs are at their lowest points ever. Trade barriers are at their lowest. Anyone in these nations can set up an import/export firm with minimal paperwork. And the best estimates show that trade might increase $500 B worldwide – or less than 1% of global GDP. As Mr. Ashbrook stated, a rounding error.

    The TPP and the TTIP are end runs around the democratic processes in the participating nations. It creates dispute mechanisms that highly favor corporate lawyers and litigation above already overworked government agencies. (For example, New Zealand has about 1400 people in its entire foreign service – compare that to the size of the average corporate legal department, and how many lawyers they can hire for specific disputes.) It extends IP protections far beyond what is necessary. It promotes a race to the bottom, not aspirations to be the best.

    “For trade negotiations to work and succeed, you need a certain degree
    of confidentiality, otherwise it would be like showing the other player
    one’s cards in a card game.” From http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/questions-and-answers/

    That is a great policy for capitalists. It should never be the standard for democratic policy. Civic organizations are given puppet shows, while Fortune 500 companies sit at the table.
    A global economy for everyone, not the 1-10% at the top, all cards should be on the table, and everyone should be able to seat. But that is not what is being attempted here, regardless of the rhetoric.

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