Obama and Romney Share Bed With a Monster
By Martin Berg
How’d you like your own private court, tilted in your favor, where you could take your complaints against the government?
Pretty sweet deal, huh?
That’s exactly what a bunch of corporate lobbyists are setting up in secret right now, under the guise of negotiating a massive new trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
And this slimy secret deal is being pushed by the Obama administration.
It’s a complete betrayal by President Obama, who as a candidate campaigned strongly against previous secret trade agreements, like NAFTA, that cripple government’s ability to enforce their own worker safety, environmental, public health or financial regulation. In an effort to distinguish himself from his primary opponent, now Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, the president said: “Ten years after NAFTA passed, Senator Clinton said it was good for America…Well, I don’t think NAFTA has been good for America — and I never have.”
As a candidate in 2008, President Obama also said: “We can’t keep passing unfair trade deals like NAFTA that put special interests over workers’ interests…”
Since he became president, he’s signed trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. But the TPP, which includes along with the U.S, Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Peru and Vietnam, and Malaysia, is the first trade deal created solely on President Obama’s watch. And it’s being concocted just like previous trade negotiations: with the corporate lobbyists firmly on the inside and the rest of us, as well as our elected representatives, shut completely out.
If you’re waiting for the Republicans to raise a stink, don’t hold your breath.
Mitt Romney has already said the Trans-Pacific agreement should be pushed through as quickly as possible. The Republican presidential candidate’s support for TPP is also a foul betrayal – of all the free market principles he supposedly holds so dear.
Last week, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch ripped the cloak of secrecy that surrounds the TPP when it got hold of a document that detailed the secret court and leaked it.
I wrote about the dangers of the TPP back in April, calling it a “free trade Frankenstein,” a monster that in fact is not free and has nothing to do with trade. It should be called a “corporate bill of rights” that grants big business all kinds of special privileges to stomp on the rights enjoyed by the rest of us.
Lori Wallach, Global Trade Watch’s executive director, compared the TPP to another monster, one that also flourishes in the dark.
Wallach told Democracy Now that “these agreement are a little bit like Dracula. You drag them in the sunshine, and they do not fare well. But all of us, and also across all of the countries involved, there are citizen movements that are basically saying, `This is not in our name. We don’t need global enforceable corporate rights. We need more democracy. We need more accountability.’ ”
Wallach pointed out that under similar provisions in NAFTA, special “trade courts” have forced governments have paid out $350 million to corporations which claimed to have been wronged by a variety of zoning laws, bans on toxic materials and logging regulations.
Shame on President Obama for reversing himself and hatching this monster in the dark. Shame on Governor Romney for slithering into bed with it so cozily as if it was a beauty queen he couldn’t resist.
The time to stop it is now.
The way these trade deals work is that the administration jams it through Congress with no debate allowed on its various provisions, only an up or down vote.
Does this sound anything like democracy?
Ironically, the TPP “negotiations” resume the 4th of July weekend at the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego.
If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and suggest that the “negotiators” should do their patriotic duty and deliver the wretched mess where it belongs – to the nearest toxic waste dump.
If you’re elsewhere, let your congressional representative know you won’t be fooled by “free trade” anymore, and neither should they.
We know a monster when we see one.
Martin Berg, WheresOurMoney.org editor, a veteran journalist, is former editor and columnist for the Daily Journal in California, the nation's largest and oldest newspaper for lawyers.