Election 2016

Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution Launch Campaign to Topple the TPP

A barrage of phone calls, e-mails, webcasts have just begun.

Photo Credit: https://berniesanders.com

Bernie Sanders’ new organization, Our Revolution, is taking to the internet and phone lines on Wednesday to launch its highest-profile issue campaign yet—pushing Congress to not approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. Our Revolution is hoping to generate 50,000 calls to the U.S. House, where they say they have a better change of getting a no vote than in the Senate. Sanders will be holding a webcast at 6pm EST on Wednesday to talk about the issue.

“If TPP passes Congress, that's it. It can't be changed. TPP can't be canceled unless all 12 nations pull out. We must defeat it before it's too late,” said Larry Cohen, the group’s chairman, urging people to call 1-844-311-2016 to be connected to their representative in the capitol. 

The TPP is supported by President Obama, who is expected to ask Congress to vote on it before his term of office ends. The agreement is opposed by Americans across the political spectrum, from Donald Trump supporters who dislike its impact on domestic jobs to Hillary Clinton supporters who dislike its corporate-friendly secret tribunals that can overrule national laws protecting the public and the environment.

Our Revolution listed five problem areas with the trade agreement:

1. Outsourcing more jobs overseas. If adopted, the Economic Policy Institute estimates that the U.S. “will lose more than 130,000 jobs to Vietnam and Japan alone,” with many of the jobs in the service sector and manufacturing. “TPP includes rules that will make it even easier for corporate America to outsource call centers; computer programming; engineering; accounting; and medical diagnostic jobs,” Our Revolution said. It added that previous trade agreements gutted manufacturing. “As a result of NAFTA, the U.S. lost nearly 700,000 jobs. As a result of Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, the U.S. lost over 2.7 million jobs. As a result of the Korea Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. has lost 70,000 jobs.”

2. U.S. courts will be overruled. The TPP has the same clause as many past trade agreements, in which the private sector can go before an international tribunal to sue nations for future lost profits—which is what TransCanada is now doing after the U.S. government rejected the Keystone XL pipeline. “The TPP creates a special dispute resolution process that allows corporations to challenge any domestic laws that could adversely impact their ‘expected future profits,” the website said. “These challenges would be heard before U.N. and World Bank tribunals which could require taxpayer compensation to corporations.

3. Prescription drug prices will go up. This is a lesser-known area, because under international trade agreements pharmaceutical companies can extend their patents and monopolies on drugs, the cost of medicine and future earnings. “This would expand the profits of big drug companies, keep drug prices artificially high, and leave millions of people around the world without access to life saving drugs,” the website said. “Doctors without Borders stated that ‘the TPP agreement is on track to become the most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines in developing countries.’”

4. Environmental protection will be set back. The legal provisions that allow companies to sue nations over lost future earnings tend to focus on environmental regulations, especially the effort to mitigate climate change. “Pending claims worth over $14 billion have been filed based on similar language in other trade agreements,” the website said. “Most of these claims deal with challenges to environmental laws in a number of countries.”

5. The trade agreement cannot be repealed. This is another little understood area. “Once TPP is agreed to, it has no sunset date and could only be altered by a consensus of all of the countries that agreed to it,” the Our Revolution website said. “Other countries, like China, could be allowed to join in the future. For example, Canada and Mexico joined TPP negotiations in 2012 and Japan joined last year.”

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Steven Rosenfeld is a senior writing fellow of the Independent Media Institute, where he covers national political issues. He is the author of several books on elections, most recently Democracy Betrayed: How Superdelegates, Redistricting, Party Insiders, and the Electoral College Rigged the 2016 Election (March 2018, Hot Books).