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Excerpt: "Modern 'trade' agreements are often less about trade and more about giant multinational corporations finding new ways to rig the economic system to benefit themselves."

Senator Elizabeth Warren. (photo:
Senator Elizabeth Warren. (photo:

Who Is Writing the TPP?

By Elizabeth Warren and Rosa DeLauro, The Boston Globe

23 May 15


ALSO SEE: TPP Is in Trouble, Thanks to Public Interest

ongress is in an intense debate over trade bills that will shape the course of the US economy for decades. Much of this debate has been characterized as a fight over whether international trade itself creates or destroys American jobs. There is, however, another major concern — that modern “trade” agreements are often less about trade and more about giant multinational corporations finding new ways to rig the economic system to benefit themselves. Hillary Clinton has said that the “United States should be advocating a level and fair playing field, not special favors” for big business, in our trade deals. We agree with this blunt assessment – and believe every member of Congress should consider this carefully before voting to help advance these agreements.

Advocates of the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive 12-country agreement, sell this proposal as a free trade deal — but the United States already has free trade agreements with half of the countries at the negotiating table, and only five of the treaty’s 29 draft chapters reportedly deal with traditional trade issues. While reducing traditional barriers to trade with countries like Japan will facilitate some international commerce, the TPP is about more than reducing tariffs.

The president argues that the TPP is about who will “write the rules” for 40 percent of the world’s economy — the United States or China. But who is writing the TPP? The text has been classified and the public isn’t permitted to see it, but 28 trade advisory committees have been intimately involved in the negotiations. Of the 566 committee members, 480, or 85 percent, are senior corporate executives or representatives from industry lobbying groups. Many of the advisory committees are made up entirely of industry representatives.

A rigged process leads to a rigged outcome. For evidence of that tilt, look at a key TPP provision: Investor-State Dispute Settlement where big companies get the right to challenge laws they don’t like in front of industry-friendly arbitration panels that sit outside of any court system. Those panels can force taxpayers to write huge checks to big corporations — with no appeals. Workers, environmentalists, and human rights advocates don’t get that special right.

Most Americans don’t think of the minimum wage or antismoking regulations as trade barriers. But a foreign corporation has used ISDS to sue Egypt because Egypt raised its minimum wage. Phillip Morris has gone after Australia and Uruguay to stop them from implementing rules to cut smoking rates. Under the TPP, companies could use ISDS to challenge these kinds of government policy decisions — including food safety rules.

The president dismisses these concerns, but some of the nation’s top experts in law and economics are pushing to drop ISDS provisions from future trade agreements. Economist Joe Stiglitz, Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, and others recently noted that “the threat and expense of ISDS proceedings have forced nations to abandon important public policies” and that “laws and regulations enacted by democratically elected officials are put at risk in a process insulated from democratic input.” That was exactly what Germany did in 2011 when it cut back on environmental protections after an ISDS lawsuit.

Congress will soon vote on whether to enact “fast-track” authority to grease the skids for the approval of the TPP and other upcoming trade deals. Clinton has called for trade agreements to “avoid some of the provisions sought by business interests, including our own,” such as ISDS. By definition, massive trade deals like the TPP override domestic laws written, debated, and passed by Congress. If fast-track passes, Congress will have given up its power to strip out any backroom arrangements and special favors like ISDS without tanking the whole deal that contains those giveaways.

We will have also given up our right to strip out whatever other special favors industry can bury in new trade agreements – not just in the TPP, but in potential trade deals for the next six years. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has testified before Congress that trade negotiations involve “pressure to lower standards” on financial regulations and other public interest laws, and that President Obama has resisted that pressure. But Obama will soon leave office, and he cannot bind a future president. We hope he is succeeded by a Democrat, but if not, this legislation risks giving a future president a powerful tool to undermine public interest regulations under the guise of promoting commerce.

Powerful corporate interests have spent a lot of time and money trying to bend Washington’s rules to benefit themselves, and now they want Congress to grease the skids for a TPP deal that corporations have helped write but the public can’t see — and for six years of future agreements that haven’t even been written. Congress should refuse to vote for any expedited procedures to approve the TPP before the trade agreement is made public. And Congress certainly shouldn’t vote for expedited procedures to enact trade deals that don’t yet even exist. your social media marketing partner


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Founder, Reader Supported News

+36 # PeacefulGarden 2015-05-23 17:41
Ah, the Investor-State! The state that dominates all other states with fancy laws written in fancy legal rhetoric that a fancy judge in a fancy building can make a big fancy decision that basically treats me and others like shit. Yes, when rich people unite they talk and write things down that must be obeyed; all fancied-up legal talk; like a witch doctor.

This basically doesn't matter; with or without the agreement the Investor-State is eventually going to shit on the "others" who are not in the Investor-State. Obama knows this. Seal us up in border lines and then do the remote worker thing, to sell products for more and more to remote consumers. Do what China does.

Or, me thinks this is about fracking natural gas, the best get-away card if the Investor-State really fucks up a large swath of land.

Honestly, is this stoppable? No. The only way it will stop is when the Investor-State begins to smell its own shit.
+22 # RGV.REG 2015-05-24 10:20
I wholeheartedly agree.
Isn't it called Fascism when corporations take over a country... so isn't the TPP really Global Fascism ? !!!
+1 # Depressionborn 2015-05-25 22:13
Quoting bob_vogelsang:
I wholeheartedly agree.
Isn't it called Fascism when corporations take over a country... so isn't the TPP really Global Fascism ? !!!

+59 # Walter J Smith 2015-05-23 20:13
I also agree with this. " Hillary Clinton has said that the “United States should be advocating a level and fair playing field, not special favors” for big business, in our trade deals. We agree with this blunt assessment – and believe every member of Congress should consider this carefully before voting to help advance these agreements."

The question is why Hillary Clinton only mouths it and sits out the trade dispute.

Obviously she wants it both ways. We can have our ideals if she can have the trade deal.

Just like Obama and Bill.

They do not care that they are undermining the US Constitution. Any more than Bill Clinton cared that with his repeal of Glass-Steagall he was destroying the economy. He gets to belong to the top 0.01% of the wealthiest Americans. America doesn't matter to him because his wealth puts him above mere national integrity.
+43 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-05-23 21:59
This whole thing is such an attack on the working people all over the world that I can't believe that our 'Representative s' will vote for it---not just vote for it but vote for it on a yes or no vote with NO DISCUSSION.

But they will. And where does that leave you? You know it's rotten don't you? You know it will be bad for you and your family. It will pass and what will you do? I fear that we will just talk about some entertainment we enjoyed---you know. lots of sex and violence. That's real entertainment for the people in this nation. Doesn't any one have the capacity to stand up and say, "OH NO! I will not stand for this!!" ? I fear that no one will do that. We will just go on to the next important thing -- like who won the basketball game.
+1 # Dongi 2015-05-25 11:58
wantrealdemocra cy---will you stand up and be counted? How about leading by example?
+39 # rradiof 2015-05-23 22:00
Forget all the blather. Whatever happened to civil disobedience? Why does not one member of the U.S. Congress do a "Snowden", iin the spirit of Thoreau, Gandhi, Debs, King, Ellsberg, Sterling, and too many others to mention, and call a press conference and expose this corporate coup d'etat? Remember Nathan Hale, mes freres, each of us has only one life to give to our forebears and our Republic. Over and out.
+12 # turtleislander 2015-05-24 06:02
We have been cowed by police brutality, black lists, arrests for "suspicion" of this or that. The most terrifying provision of the NDA which hopefully will be stopped in court...and ultimately the puppet masters have us disunited and fighting each other.
+21 # tedrey 2015-05-24 06:04
It's been exposed. We're not allowed to read it. The Congress is not allowed to change it. Despicable details have been leaked. Elizabeth Warren and others who have seen it tell us it could not be worse for the country. What more do we need to know?
+6 # Eliza D 2015-05-24 13:31
Ms. Warren has written articles and gotten into a public disagreement with the President about TPP. He publicly denounced her, saying "Elizabeth is a politician, just like many others" after his attempt to fast-track the TPP bill in the Senate failed. (Evidence of Obama's disdain for Ms. Warren is seen in his referring to her as "Elizabeth". How dare he?) It was called a humiliating defeat by the media, but Obama got right back in the fight and the bill was passed yesterday. Our congress is hopelessly corrupt, in the pay of the corporations who got them elected. We have to throw them ALL out, with about five or six exceptions of honorable ones that I can think of. BTW, none of the people you mentioned were politicians. Politicians, in general, are not noted for courage.
+1 # Dongi 2015-05-25 12:00
You lead,rradiof, and I will follow.
+56 # PABLO DIABLO 2015-05-23 22:27
Bill Clinton passed NAFTA and now we are to believe Hillary is for the workers and not the corporations. Then, why was she on the board of WALMART? No more Clintons AND no more Bushes. AND no more TPP.
+15 # Bruinwaterjongen 2015-05-24 00:10
The 50'000 year history of this 'Human Experiment' on Planet Earth is now in its final phase. This TPP will (most unfortunately) pass, and when it does, every progressive issue that humankind has worked for from magna Charter, to gay marriage will collapse! the sustainable environment (biosphere) will become polluted that life will come very soon to the point of unsustainabilit y -- uh... that means EXTINCTION!

better enjoy your blessings for now, as from secular non-religious perspective it is very simple in two unwanted words: We're doomed! TPP is the pact with the Devil, and will with no doubt become the death knell of humanity -- seriously.

Unless seven billion people can mobilise instantaneously into the First World Civil War, it is hopeless and now too late! TPP unfortunately shall pass despite all protest on this planet. Nuclear war will undoubtedly break out not in Middle-East but in eastern part of Ukraine in Crimea. The writing is on the wall -- again: we're doomed!

It was a nice human experiment, but that ole human element of insatiable greed and avarice (with hubris thrown in as well) is the demise of human existence. So enjoy what you have got as very soon (sooner than expected) its is that Big Sayonara!

So sad.
+1 # CL38 2015-05-25 13:11
gop plans for the environment, air, food and water permit corporations to poison most of the 'people' while the 1% live underground. How could they live underground for the time it would take for earth to recover and still survive?

I don't understand this kind of non-thinking about consequences. What am I missing?
+2 # Bruinwaterjongen 2015-05-24 00:22
(Magna Charta correction)
+3 # Misterioso 2015-05-24 11:15
Magna Carta
-14 # FDRva 2015-05-24 00:29
The polling is clear.

Most Americans would rather have China write trade rules than the Wall Street friends of Pres. Obama and Jeb Bush. Duh?

If Hillary really wants the job, she will back Obama's impeachment and removal.

Riding Obama's coattails is a losing strategy for her.

No matter the size of the campaign budget.

If Hill really wanted to be president--rema ining in the US Senate in 2008--makes more sense than what she has done since then.
+12 # jcdav 2015-05-24 05:26
What? Dontcha believe in the benevolent free market? I have yet to hear ANY explanation as to how this secret, black shrouded agreement is supposed to/will give us a leg up on China (who already own most of our debt.) Keep drinkin' the kool aide.
0 # CL38 2015-05-25 13:31
Do you back the impeachment and removal of all gop politicians who have decimated our Constitution, country and rights for FOUR DECADES????
-44 # FDRva 2015-05-24 00:39
Do not be surprised if Bush money flows to Bankers' Socialist candidate Sanders.
+23 # Farafalla 2015-05-24 00:58
Oh crikey! A troll!
+2 # CL38 2015-05-25 13:14
A southern troll from Leesburg, VA. what a shock!
+1 # CL38 2015-05-25 13:32
Do not be surprised at the number of well-deserved down votes that show up for YOU!
-52 # FDRva 2015-05-24 00:59
Sanders has never been known for his courage--only his malleability.

That dubious trait has been known to attract Bush money to Democrats.
+3 # CL38 2015-05-25 13:16
Oops....guess nobody believes you. Check out Bernie's decades-long support for all the right issues FOR the 99%!.

+6 # jdd 2015-05-24 04:59
It makes no sense to portray Hillary as an opponent of the TPP, as she has called it "the gold standard" of trade agreements. More important, while the opposition has focused on the effect on jobs, the real purpose is, as Obama admitted, an "anti-China" economic alliance. It is simply the economic corollary to Obama's "Asian Pivot," which is military side. What are the "trade rules" Obama fears? They are exemplified by AIIB, which most European nations have joined over Obama's threats and opposition. It's goal is to finance large scale development projects which it decribes as "win-win," for the participating nations as opposed to the TPP's plans to replace China as a source of chealp labor with with that of Vietnam and Malaysia.
+4 # WestWinds 2015-05-24 10:03

--- Vietnam, Malaysia and the USA.
+7 # ctcarole 2015-05-24 06:24
Elizabeth Warren may be just what the country needs and I will support her in every way possible if she decides to run for the Presidency. As long as she stays in the Senate and continues to espouse these great ideas to help the vast majority of people she will continue to get run over by the money powers and corporate powers. Now she remains as a lone (okay, maybe one or two more) voice shouting in the forest. As long as she refuses to run our choices will continue to be worse and worser - take your pick. Bernie has a good heart but hasn't the charisma or financing necessary to win the White House. Elizabeth does.
+8 # tedrey 2015-05-24 11:10
He's got the charisma, all right. And I'll bet Elizabeth WANTS him to win.
+1 # WestWinds 2015-05-24 12:40

--- Yah, and you guys keep forgetting that there is a very big Jewish voter block out there and I should think they would REALLY want to see one of their own become POTUS, and they've got the collective bucks to back him.
+4 # Henry 2015-05-24 08:53
But they would not allow Elizabeth Warren to win.
+4 # WestWinds 2015-05-24 10:05
Quoting Henry:
But they would not allow Elizabeth Warren to win.

--- And how, exactly, would they stop it?
I think if EW ran, she'd win by a landslide.
+8 # WestWinds 2015-05-24 09:25
The secrecy surrounding the TPP and the TTIP is vintage Obama. Way back at the beginning, he was having secret meetings with special interests in a diner across the street from the White House so that their meetings would not be a matter of public record. Sadly, this president is a sneak.

PS I took a copy of this article and sent it to my district House Representative. This way, I'm sure that if he votes in favor of Fast Track and the TPP, it was (1) an informed decision and (2) that his choice in voting to support the TPP, and future disastrous trade bills, was intentional. You might want to consider doing the same.
+3 # WestWinds 2015-05-24 12:37

Only ten members of the U.S. Senate opposed giving Obama the Fast Track:

Tammy Baldwin

Dick Blumenthal

Barbara Boxer

Al Franken

Mazie Hirono

Barbara Mikulski

Chris Murphy

Bernie Sanders

Chuck Schumer

Elizabeth Warren


Thirteen “Democratic” Senators who voted to rush the TPA bill:

Michael Bennet (Colo.),

Tom Carper (Del.),

Chris Coons (Del.),

Maria Cantwell (Wash.),

Dianne Feinstein (Calif.),

Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tim Kaine (Va.),

Claire McCaskill (Mo.),

Patty Murray (Wash.),

Bill Nelson (Fla.),

Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.),

Mark Warner (Va.), and

Ron Wyden (Ore.).
+4 # WestWinds 2015-05-24 12:46
Oh, PS:
I was reading an article on the WSJ online re the Fast Track vote and I went to comment but you have to sign in first. So, I signed in but when I went back to that article, the comment section had been removed and any further efforts to bring it up only resulted in pages full of other articles. You can't tell me they don't keep lists of who is what. Heaven help us if they manage to get these corporate courts in place, we will see the death camps yet and there won't be any allied forces to come bail us out, either!
+1 # Dongi 2015-05-25 12:16
The fight against TPP is now and the leaders of the opposition are Warren and Sanders. They must set the agenda and the strategy for us to follow. They must do whatever they deem best; we must put everything we have behind their program. As Tom Paine once said, "These are the times that try men's souls."

The welfare of the Republic is worth it. Whatever it takes!
-2 # Robbee 2015-05-25 14:42
re: Hillary Clinton has said that the “United States should be advocating a level and fair playing field, not special favors” for big business, in our trade deals.

The question is why Hillary Clinton only mouths it and sits out the trade dispute.

- no one forced hill to take a position opposing tpp - she could have ducked the issue as bernie has, so far, ducked her position favoring amnesty for immigrants, on a path to full citizenship

a former senator gets no vote on tpp - hill cannot be accused of sitting out the tpp debate - she announced a position contradicting the position of the sitting dem prez, that did as much to support warren's and sanders opposition as she can do

surely hill haters can find a better reason to hate hill than this

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