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Excerpt: "Many details of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) are still cloaked in mystery, but a trio of Senators have learned enough about them to raise concerns that the trade deal could precipitate another financial meltdown."

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin. (photo: AP)
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin. (photo: AP)


Senators Warn TPP Is a Trojan Horse for Wall Street Deregulation

By The District Sentinel

20 December 14

 

any details of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) are still cloaked in mystery, but a trio of Senators have learned enough about them to raise concerns that the trade deal could precipitate another financial meltdown.

On Tuesday, Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to US Trade Representative Michael Froman objecting to a number of such provisions being considered by his delegation.

Most notably, the trio singled out clauses that would establish an international court that serves primarily to further the interests of multinational corporations through a process known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

“The investor-state dispute settlement process permits foreign companies to bypass American courts and challenges US government policies before a panel of private attorneys that sits outside any domestic legal system,” Sens. Baldwin, Markey and Warren wrote. “And because the investor-state process is available only to investors, it gives investors a far greater ability to challenge state practices than it gives labor unions, environmental groups, or any other non-investor with an interest in a trade deal,” the three said.

ISDS provisions included in prior trade agreements like NAFTA have allowed corporations to extract large sums from governments, if these international courts deemed that a regulation violated the often opaque “minimum standard of treatment,” the senators pointed out.

According to the UN, these investor disputes are increasing. In 2012, there were nearly sixty cases brought by corporations against governments – the most ever recorded. The majority of these disputes were brought by American companies seeking to undo regulations in developing countries.

How this relates to Wall Street is that the senators fear the TPP could include “minimum standards” that would affect financial regulations in a trade deal for the first time. To justify the worries, they cited a 2006 example of an international trade court ordering the Czech Republic to pay an international bank more than $200 million, after its government declined to bailout the failing institution.

“[ISDS] provisions in the TPP would be troubling enough because they would expose a broad array of critical American financial regulations to challenge by many additional foreign companies,” the Senators wrote. They added that such measures would “strip our regulators of the tools they need to prevent the next crisis.”

Other possible TPP clauses causing the Senators heartburn were provisions regarding market access and capital controls. The Senators said such rules could “prohibit basic, non-discriminatory restrictions on predatory to toxic financial products” and “curtail certain limitations on the size or the operations of financial firms.” They may also forbid lawmakers from passing a financial transaction tax in the future – a revenue-raising volatility-controlling measure that came to prominence during the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Last month, President Obama said that the trade deal is “moving forward” and suggested it could be finalized “sometime soon,” but its ultimate fate is still uncertain. The real test comes next year when the new Congress will have to decide whether or not to grant the White House “fast-track authority” to pass TPP. If it does, lawmakers would be unable to offer amendments to change any deal finalized by the administration. But with discussions over the multilateral Pacific Rim trade deal having taken place behind closed-doors, many lawmakers appear reluctant approve either the deal, the process or both.

The Senators asked Froman to respond to their concerns by Jan. 6 of next year.

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+31 # Walter J Smith 2014-12-20 09:31
It is a trojan horse with which the neoliberal Ds conspire with the neocon Rs to continue their four or five decades long efforts to make the military industrial techno-gizmo spy on everybody while enjoying repulsive power wealth and glory cults donating untold millions to those very neocons & neolibs in campaign cash - yes, these cults are the crown princes and princesses for the post-imperial (economic & political & ecological collapse) era. And every one of them is innocent of any guilt because not one of them is intelligent enough to see what they are doing. They do not connect the acts that reveal patterns of results; much less do they see how all the patterns connect into the traditional collapsing empire path down which they - with the help of 90% of the channel surfing voters - lead us.
 
 
+14 # cmp 2014-12-20 11:04
May I humbly suggest that if you are not already supporting 'Public Citizen' and/or the 'Council of Canadians,' etc., then please do consider it for this upcoming year.

I' am in no way affiliated with either of these groups myself, but, I have been a supporter for quite some time now. This is mainly because they are some of our last Organized Institutional Power who will focus on just this issue; as well as, many other issues.

And,
If, anyone has another Organized Group that they would recommend to me because they are fighting against these "Crime Against Humanity - Monopoly Trade Practice's" , then please let me know. And, I will gladly look into giving what I can.
 
 
+12 # thekidde 2014-12-20 11:24
Interesting what governments do that foments armed rebellion. Tea, anyone???
 
 
+21 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-12-20 12:13
Wake up America. The corporations are running "our" government. Greed never sleeps and ignorance never wakes up.
 
 
+12 # OldLady 2014-12-20 13:21
I hope these Senators are reaching out to the Tea Party members of both houses, who may like the restrictions liberals object to, but who would not like giving over American autonomy to a secretive international entity, if they understood that that's what the TPP would do.
 
 
+7 # Radscal 2014-12-20 14:34
When the seminal GATT "free trade" treaty that foisted the WTO on the world was up for vote in Congress, Ralph Nader offered to donate $10,000 to the favorite charity of any Congress Person who could take and pass a 10 question quiz about what was in it.

None tried.

Then, during a break, one CongressPerson actually read the treaty, took and passed the quiz.

He also changed his vote from yea to nay.

Ralph has been so right for so long. How I wish that Bill Clinton, Al Gore and the Democratic partisans had not stolen from Ralph the 1996 and 2000 elections. Who can doubt that our country and our world would be better places had we elected Nader?

BTW: That one Congressperson who voted against GATT after reading it was a Republican.
 
 
+11 # angelfish 2014-12-20 14:47
Sadly, MOST of their Colleagues Don't give a Big Rat's Patoot! As long as THEIR palms (agendae) are greased the American people will continue to get Fleeced!
 
 
+3 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-12-20 22:10
‘2006 example of an international trade court ordering the Czech Republic to pay an international bank more than $200 million, after its government declined to bailout the failing institution.’
Huh? Where’s the legal equity in that? Corporate Socialism at its near-ugliest.
 
 
+2 # randrjwr 2014-12-21 01:34
Quoting from the article:

“The investor-state dispute settlement process permits foreign companies to bypass American courts and challenges US government policies before a panel of private attorneys that sits outside any domestic legal system,”

What I don't understand is how this panel of private attorneys can have any power to enforce their rulings against a (supposedly) sovereign nation. How could any Government in its right (collective) mind ever agree to submit to such power? I do realize that in the case of the U.S Government, the term "in its right mind" may not apply.

I would welcome any answers anyone has to this question.
 
 
0 # RLF 2014-12-22 09:34
The great thing here is that the wages slave of america are going to lose everything when s#^t drops...no retirement left, no savings left, no money in the bank...and nobody with money to pay your wages! Business insists and the pols do whatever they are told...so it will happen. better have you money in gold buried somewhere.
 
 
0 # Buddha 2014-12-22 12:06
"The investor-state dispute settlement process permits foreign companies to bypass American courts and challenges US government policies before a panel of private attorneys that sits outside any domestic legal system"

Well, that's basically what neo-liberalism is all about, tear down national laws and sovereignty (and the ability of citizens to control their country's economic and trade policies through the ballot box) such that Global Multinational Corporations are supreme, untouchable and above the law.
 

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