Jim Hightower: Obama's Terrible Trade Pact Is a Scam That Must Be Stopped
Ed, please call home! Edward Snowden, that is: Come quickly; your country needs you.
Once again, the American people are being victimized by a hush-hush blanket of official secrecy, rhetorical dodges and outright lies. This time it's not about wholesale spying on us by our own government, but a wholesale assault on our jobs, environment, health and even our people's sovereignty. The assaulters are a cabal of global corporations and the Obama administration.
Their weapon is a scheme hidden inside a scam. Called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the scam is their claim that TPP is nothing but another free trade deal -- albeit a whopper of a deal -- one that ties our economy to Brunei, Vietnam, and nine other nations around the Pacific Rim. But of the 29 chapters in this deal, only five are about tariffs and other trade matters.
The real deal is in the 24 other chapters that create a supranational scheme of secretive, private tribunals that corporations from any TPP nation can use to challenge and overturn our local, state and national laws. All a corporate power has to do to win in these closed proceedings is to show that a particular law or regulation might reduce its future profits.
This is big stuff, amounting to the enthronement of a global corporate oligarchy over us. Yet it's been negotiated among trade officials of the 12 countries in strict secrecy. Even members of Congress have been shut out -- but some 500 corporate executives have been allowed inside to shape the "partnership."
Now that President Obama and his corporate team intend to spring it on us and start ramming TPP through Congress. He recently arranged a briefing to woo House Democrats to support it -- but he even classified the briefing as a secret session, meaning the lawmakers are not allowed to tell you, me or anyone else anything about what they were told.
A gag order on Congress? Holy Thomas Paine! The only reason Obama is desperate to hide his oligarchic scheme from us is because he knows the people would overwhelmingly oppose it. So he's resorting to government by sucker punch. It's cowardly ... and disgraceful.
The wonkish, gibberishistic jargon used by the Powers That Be to write these corporate boondoggles they call "trade deals" is toothachingly boring and incomprehensible. Could that be on purpose? Of course! If they wrote these wage-destroying, environment-killing, sovereignty-sucking scams in plain English so we commoners could understand what they're doing to us, they couldn't get away with it.
So the TPP, by far the largest trade flim-flam in history, is written in legalistic gobbledygook and was negotiated by corporate lobbyists and government lawyers. Even Congress doesn't know what's in it -- yet the plan is to hustle TPP into law through a super-rushed, rubber-stamp process called "fast-track."
No need to worry about the content, though, for an upstanding new group called Progressive Coalition for American Jobs now assures us that this global deal "will support hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the United States." Hello -- do we have sucker wrappers around our heads? That's the exact same claim that Bill Clinton and the corporate elite made in 1993 for NAFTA, which siphoned hundreds of thousands of jobs and entire industries out of the U.S.
By the way, who are the members of this "coalition"? Every progressive group I know of is adamantly against the TPP, and no progressive has stepped forward to claim ownership of this PR push for corporatizing the people's democratic rights. Is there a coalition? Who's in it? Who funds it? Nobody's talking because nobody's there. The coalition is a fraud, just like TPP.
Reps. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, wrote in an op-ed for the Guardian that, "Good trade agreements can only be negotiated in the open. ... The US must stop using trade agreements as investment deals for the world's wealthiest corporations and instead prioritize higher wages, safer work and environmental standards and a healthier world economy. Trade agreements should improve the bottom lines of all Americans, not just of American corporations -- or else we shouldn't enter into them at all." Now that's progressive. To join the real coalition of progressives like them who're standing tall against the whole TPP fraud, go to www.StopFastTrack.com.