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Press writes: "Opposition is led, in the Senate, by Democrats Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Harry Reid and Debbie Stabenow, as well as independent Sen. Bernie Sanders."

President Obama. (photo: Getty)
President Obama. (photo: Getty)

Obama Doing Republicans' Dirty Work for Them With TPP

By Bill Press, The Hill

29 April 15


he old adage “politics makes strange bedfellows” has never been proven so true as in today’s battle over the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, or TPP.

Opposition is led, in the Senate, by Democrats Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Harry Reid and Debbie Stabenow, as well as independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. They’re joined in the House by Democrats Rosa DeLauro, Barbara Lee, Keith Ellison, Donna Edwards and Sandy Levin.

And where’s President Obama? Instead of lining up with fellow Democrats, he’s siding with Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.

Strange bedfellows, indeed.

But it’s worse than that. Obama’s not just siding with Republicans, he’s doing their dirty work for them.

Unloading with both barrels last week, he accused Warren and other TPP critics of being “wrong,” not knowing what they’re talking about, simply playing to their “fundraising lists,” using “misinformation that stirs up the base but ultimately doesn’t serve them well” and being “dishonest” about secrecy surrounding the TPP process.

He even compared them to Sarah Palin and others who claimed that “death panels” were part of ObamaCare.

Personal attacks aside, who’s right? Who’s wrong? It’s time to check the facts.

Opponents argue the TPP’s a secret document. They’re right, Obama’s wrong.

Until Congress votes on whether to give the president fast-track authority on the deal, the public has no access to the draft TPP document, which would result in the largest trade deal in history, regulating trade among 12 Pacific Rim nations and 40 percent of the world’s economy.

Not even members of Congress have been given a copy of the document. All we know about the draft TPP is what was made public by WikiLeaks. As Brown and Warren argued in a letter to Obama: “The press and public should be allowed to examine the details that corporate executives and lobbyists have already been allowed to influence for years.”

Opponents also argue the TPP would give foreign corporations veto power over U.S. laws. They’re right, Obama’s wrong.

Again, thanks to WikiLeaks, we know the draft document would establish a special international tribunal of highly paid corporate attorneys where corporations could challenge what they believe to be unfair laws of any country. If any corporation won its case against an American law, for example, the ruling could not be challenged in U.S. courts, and the tribunal could force American taxpayers to cough up millions of dollars in fines.

Finally, opponents argue that fast-track authority cedes to the president unprecedented executive power. And once again, they’re right, Obama’s wrong.

Under fast-track, members of Congress would not even see the TPP until Obama had signed off on it. Even then, they would have no power to change or modify it in any way — they would only be able to vote thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the deal, making Congress little more than a rubber stamp.

Is a trade deal with Asian nations important? Absolutely. Obama’s right to argue that if we don’t make the rules, China will. But Congress should play a vital role in making sure those rules are fair and in protecting American jobs, wages, consumers and the environment.

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