Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Why Elizabeth Warren And I Hate The TPP

Elizabeth Warren, Democratic senator from Massachusetts, was on NPR this morning making a good case against the TPP and I'm copying the transcript here so I can get some sleep.

To what she says I'd add that these panels of lawyers she's talking about are "tribunals" provided for in the treaty to settle disputes, and the decisions of these panels of corporate lawyers will take precedence over US law, because as you know, treaties, once approved by the senate, become part of the constitution, so if it says in the treaty that these panels take precedence over our laws, they will.

I'd also add that corporations will be able to sue governments not only to recover lost profits but to recover "expected future profits." So if a local government passes a law to protect their local environment, a corporation can claim that this denied them profits they would have received had the law not been there. Little Costa Rica is now involved in such a suit over a provision like this in another treaty brought by a huge Canadian mining company because Costa Rica decided they didn't want a big gold mine dug there after all. The company has backed off after getting bad publicity, and probably after learning how much money Costa Rica has, and is only suing now to recover their expenses, but at first they were suing for lost expected future profits.

Also, President Obama claims the TPP protects worker's rights. AFLCIO President Richard Trumka took issue with that in a Washington Post op-ed the other day.

Finally I'd point out that more than 500 corporate officials and lobbyists had security clearance to look over the drafts of the TPP and were able to submit suggestions along the way. We, and our elected officials, weren't allowed to do do the same. Who is the treaty going to be good for, and who not? And remember they are keeping the details a big secret. Why is that? They want to sneak it through before people find out what's in it, is why.

 Oh, one more thing. It's Obama and Republicans who are trying to ram this thing through. If today's Republicans like it it can have no benefit whatsoever for us. Obama should be horse whipped. Keeping me up like this.

From NPR (article here):

Sen. Warren On The 'Tilted Process' Of Asia Trade Bill

 The Senate could begin debate Tuesday on a bill that would give President Obama fast-track authority to complete a Pacific Rim trade agreement.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has become the president's signature trade initiative, but it is also very unpopular with Democrats.

TPP protestor in Malaysia, a signatory country
Leading the charge from the left against the deal in Congress is Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts. She says the TPP could result in the watering down of Wall Street regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act, after the 2008 financial crisis.

The president has called Warren's interpretation "absolutely wrong." He told Yahoo News recently it was "pure speculation. She and I taught law school, and one of the things you do as a law professor is spin out hypotheticals and this is all hypothetical. Speculative."

Sen. Warren spoke with NPR's Steve Inskeep about her objection to the deal, the secrecy she says it has been held in and why she said it's a "tilted process" that has yielded a "tilted result."

Interview Highlights

On her main objections to the bill

I don't think they are hypothetical, I think I've been out there just talking about the facts.
Look, I have three objections. The first is that the president is asking us to vote to grease the skids on a trade deal that has largely been negotiated, but that is still held in secret.

The second is that we know that corporations under this deal are going to get to sue countries for regulations they don't like and that the decisions are not going to be made by courts, they're going to be made by private lawyers.

And the third problem is that he wants us to vote on a six-year, grease-the-skids deal.

On the investor-state dispute mechanism that would help resolve disputes between countries

Keep in mind, if there's a labor violation, if somebody doesn't stick with the human rights promises they made, the consequence of that is not that they get to go to a private group, and get special enforcement. Nope, they gotta go to their own government and try to get it enforced.
So, what's happening with ISDS is that the world has changed. Those things were in place, gosh, for a long time dating back to the 1950s. But back in the beginning they were used very rarely, fewer than 100 times in more than 50 years, but the corporate lawyers figured out how to make these things very valuable for big corporations. ... What really happens here is that big, multi-national corporations can look around and say "I don't like those regulations. I could make more money if I could beat down new regulations."

On concerns about the secrecy of the deal

I have been able to go to a special, secured room. I can't take any electronic devices, no computer, no iPhone. I can't even walk out with paper notes. I can go and read about the agreement but I cannot come out in public and talk about any of the specifics. The press can't see it; the public can't see it.

But I will tell you this, there are some folks who have seen it. There are 28 working groups that have helped shape the trade deal and in those 28 working groups there are more than 500 people. It turns out that 85 percent of them are either corporate executives — senior corporate executives — or lobbyists for the industries that are being affected. The way I see this, that's a tilted process, and a tilted process yields a tilted result.

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