Submitted by: Veronica Coffin
By: Brent Parrish
Once again, Bill Still has really knocked it out of the park in the video above, if you ask me. Bill cogently deconstructs the diabolical nature of the entire Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. And I’m right on-board with just about everything Bill Still says in this video. Mr. Still succinctly expresses many of the major issues I have concerning TPP, and why I oppose the so-called “free trade” deal that has come to be called “ObamaTrade.”
If you’re wondering, who is Bill Still? He won the Best Documentary of 2010 at the Beloit International Film Festival for his work “The Secret of Oz,” a compelling and fascinating exposé on the debt-based monetary system and fractional reserve banking. After I watched his documentary several years ago, I’ve been following his work ever since.
The TPP has been a cornerstone of Obama’s “pivot toward Asia.” The proposed trade agreement hopes to establish a free trade zone that includes 12 nations: Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Chile, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States—representing forty percent of the world’s GDP. Taiwan and South Korea have also expressed interest in joining.
Last week, the House narrowly passed Trade-Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as “fast-track,” by a vote of 219 to 210. Fast-track gives the executive branch many of the powers usually reserved for Congress, allowing the president to negotiate international trade deals. Under TPA, Congress can approve or disapprove, but not amend or filibuster any proposed trade deals. Fast-track authority was first granted to President Gerald Ford in 1974. It expired in 2007 … leading Bill Still to ask, “If it was such a great thing, why was it allowed to expire?”
The only reason TPA was prevented from becoming law is due to the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) measure being voted down. The purpose of TAA is to provide enhanced unemployment payments to Americans who will lose their jobs as a direct result of passing TPP!
Let that sink in for a moment. The whole TPP scheme is being sold to the American people as something that will benefit the U.S. economy and spur job growth. And yet the TPP bill includes a measure (i.e. TAA) providing assistance for Americans who will lose their jobs as a result of passing the trade deal. You can’t make this stuff up, folks; nor would I have any desire to do so. Furthermore, the reason Democrats like Nancy Pelosi voted down TAA because it didn’t spend enough money and the unions weren’t happy about it. The Democrats still want TAA.
The TAA measure was slated for a second vote today. But, now, the TAA do-over vote has been postponed until July 30, giving the president and the pro-TPP crowd in Congress seven weeks to rally their minions. The delay also pushes the do-over vote right up to the very last possible moment before the month-long August recess.
Similar to what Bill Still expressed on the whole ObamaTrade scheme, I, too, feel like I’m being transported back to 1993 when NAFTA was passed. It was the same rhetoric being used then that we are being served now concerning TPP. Americans were promised it would be a big boon to the economy that result in more good-paying jobs. But, instead, we experienced significant job loss. Some 700,000 jobs were lost to Mexico due to NAFTA, according to the AFL-CIO.
As Bill Still points out, NAFTA didn’t just hurt Americans. It also adversely affected corn farmers in Mexico on small communal farms run by indigenous Indians, jeopardizing Mexico’s self-sufficiency—victims of giant, subsidized, corporate farming in the U.S. The same subsidized corporate farming giants also hurt American farmers as well. The bottomline is that it’s not only Americans who are concerned and opposed to so-called “free trade” deals like NAFTA and TPP.
Lately, there has been a push by pro-TPP individuals and organizations to try and woo the American public in supporting ObamaTrade by playing the us versus them meme.
Don Lee wrote at the Los Angeles Times:
In recent weeks, one Obama official after another has hammered away at the same line of argument: It’s crucial that Congress supports the TPP — including passing a related trade-promotion bill that would strengthen the president’s negotiating hand — because the alternative is that China, not the U.S., will write the rules of global trade.
Interestingly, this is the same pro-TPP propaganda the Chamber of Commerce is selling. Postcards have been sent out, and radio ads have been playing, stating if the U.S. doesn’t get on-board with ObamaTrade, China will “write the rules for global trade.” This is simply fear-mongering.
China has been trying to cobble together a competing sixteen-nation trade pact called the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), which encompasses an even bigger zone than the TPP, including Red China and Putin’s Russia. One of the original sponsors of the FTAAP was the United States.
A senior Chinese diplomat, Li Shengjiao, wrote in an article at the Huffington Post (emphasis added):
The initiative was first formally proposed by the APEC at its Hanoi Summit as early as in 2006 and endorsed by all the 21 APEC leaders, including then-U.S. President George W. Bush. Noted American economist C. Fred Bergsten, then-director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, even made a strong statement in favor of the FTAAP, arguing that it would represent the largest single liberalization in history. Interestingly, the FTAAP concept was in fact first developed by the Americans.
The FTAAP is seen by many as a rival to the U.S.-led TPP, which is currently under negotiation with Japan and 10 other Asia-Pacific countries, with the exclusion of the world’s second-largest economy. The truth is, the FTAAP is neither necessarily a contradiction nor a challenge to the TPP; the two trade arrangements could be compatible and complement each other.
The FTAAP does not cast aside TPP or any of the on-going regional undertakings; on the contrary, it can be the aggregation of existing free trade arrangements, including the TPP. The FTAAP, which includes both China and the U.S., could be built on the basis of the TPP and other regional talks. Hence, an acceleration and smooth conclusion of the TPP could contribute to the formation of the FTAAP, and this in turn, could also amplify the TPP results to an even wider area, with necessary adaptation.
Susan Schwab, U.S. trade representative under the George W. Bush Administration, said, “FTAAP is a visionary proposal that APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] is well-suited to take on.”
The TPP has been in the works for the past ten years under a cloak of total secrecy. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) took to the House floor last week and described his experience with the veil of secrecy surrounding the TPP text. Rep. Massie is one of the few lawmakers in Congress who has made the effort to read the TPP bill. He explained how he was required to read the TPP text in a private room where his congressional staff was not allowed access. He was not allowed access to the internet, either; nor was he allowed to take notes out of the room.
Rep. Massie said the first thing that struck him was the enormity of the trade bill text. He described the proposed TPP trade deal as a very thick document in two bound-volumes. He also mentioned there was an additional binder that he described as a “sort of guide” that goes along with it. The document references other bound documents. Rep. Massie expressed his frustration at the how difficult it is to have to review such a massive piece of legislation that references other resources he does not have access to.
Another GOP lawmaker who has troubled himself to read the entire TPP text is Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who wrote in an open letter to President Obama:
“There is a ‘living agreement’ provision in TPP that allows the agreement to be changed after adoption—in effect, vesting TPP countries with a sweeping new form of global governance authority. TPP calls this new global authority the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission.’ These measures are unprecedented. While I and other lawmakers have been able to view this provision in secret, I believe it must be made public before any vote is scheduled on TPA, due to the extraordinary implications. I call on you today to make that section of TPP public for the American people to see and review.”
Bill Still pointed out a very important point regarding the constitutionality of so-called “free trade.” Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states:
“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States …”
These are part of the “general welfare clauses”—enumerated powers granted to Congress for the general welfare of the nation. The purpose of “taxes, duties, imposts and excises” is to protect the economy, not harm it.
- Excise: a tax on internally-manufactured goods
- Duty: a tax on certain items purchased abroad
- Tariff: a tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of imports or export
- Impost: money collected under a tariff
Unfortunately, many believe the “protectionist” rhetoric that’s been fed to them for so many years that they no longer understand why “taxes, duties, imposts and excises” were included in the U.S. Constitution in the first place. Of course, that is by design. But I digress.
The bottomline is the TPP is not simply about trade. From what I’ve read from various sources, only about five chapters of the 29 draft chapters deal solely with traditional trade issues. The rest of the draft deals with issues like immigration, environment, wages, and other governmental policies.
No, this is not about trade, in as much as it is about “economic integration” (a term used verbatim in previous White House emails). I’m all for trade. And I’m all for freedom in business. But not if it usurps the U.S. Constitution and sidelines U.S. law in favor of multi-nationals. The TPP is all about a political and economic union more akin to something resembling the European Union. That should be a big red flag (no pun intended) for every American who values the Constitution and our national sovereignty … not to mention our jobs!