“The president’s done everything except let me fly Air Force One”
June 12, 2015 6:57 PM   Subscribe

The day before House Democrats defeated President Barack Obama's request for fast-track authority on trade agreements, The New Yorker's William Finnegan examines the strange bedfellows the Trans-Pacific Partnership has led to and asks Why Does Obama Want This Trade Deal So Badly?
posted by Pope Guilty (68 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Obama's not the only one.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 7:01 PM on June 12, 2015


Because he's a middle of the road-"business first" Democrat in the style of Clinton?
posted by drezdn at 7:05 PM on June 12, 2015 [14 favorites]


It will be interesting to see how many dissenters will have received the "You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE!" phone call.

Or how many times Obama's heard it.
posted by delfin at 7:06 PM on June 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


House Democrats dealt President Obama a humiliating defeat on his free-trade initiative Friday...

Yes, because the important thing isn't who benefits from the TPP not being fast-tracked, it's which sports teams political figures come out on top.

We shouldn't be encouraging people to form opinions about bills based on whether they personally side with the legislators or the President.
posted by Rangi at 7:06 PM on June 12, 2015 [25 favorites]


Of course us Kiwis just want open access to sell you our home grown food on a level playing field.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 7:08 PM on June 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


"Free-trade agreement" is some brilliant newspeak, for sure.
posted by odinsdream at 7:08 PM on June 12, 2015 [16 favorites]


Has anyone involved with this at a high level even attempted to justify why the provisions of the TPP are being kept largely secret, or is it pretty much just a "fuck you, because we say so"-type situation?
posted by invitapriore at 7:09 PM on June 12, 2015 [24 favorites]


Let's ask China, India, and Russia!





Hello?
posted by clavdivs at 7:14 PM on June 12, 2015 [2 favorites]




I am not a trade expert, and I do not play one on the internet machine,but I was really uncomfortable with the public secrecy, congressional restrictions on viewing the agreement, and wide open door to 600 lobbyists, so I, as a voter who tries to stay on top of what the government is doing, am pleased that this was defeated. I'm not suggesting that agreements should be negotiated in public, but I am saying that as a person these negotiators are supposed to duly serve, we should have the right to see it, read it, and discuss it when it is ready for congressional approval.
posted by dejah420 at 7:23 PM on June 12, 2015 [47 favorites]


I'm with the New Yorker, I'm completely puzzled by the Obama administration's obsession with passing the TPP. Is it something as conventional and boring as just a desire for some massive payback (in the form of speaking fees, book deals, etc) after he leaves office?

If he genuinely believes it to the best policy for America as a whole, as opposed to just the 1%, he's done a lousy job of articulating why he thinks that, and given Obama's skill at public speaking I really doubt he's somehow got an inability to explain his position here. I mean, yeah, he's got empty platitudes about it being good for American workers, but when it comes to the specifics he fails. Especially when he fails to explain exactly why a "free trade" agreement would need to include internet censorship, an incredibly oppressive copyright regime, etc.

For a man working so hard behind the scenes to get what he wants (and, again, I can't help but notice the contrast between Obama's amazing effort here and his total limp lack of effort for a public option or anything else good in the ACA), he seems to be taking the position that it is the behind the scenes stuff that's important and that us mere citizens are simply chumps who deserve no explanation, no effort to sell us on the deal.

@invitapriorte: I've heard various talking heads claim that the secrecy is absolutely necessary for negotiations and that without it negotiations would be impossible. They've never explained exactly why the negotiations would be impossible without the ironclad secrecy, but that's the weak sauce justification I've heard pushed.
posted by sotonohito at 7:25 PM on June 12, 2015 [45 favorites]


I was hoping the article would explain why Obama is so desperate for this deal but it doesn't. Every description of it is so sickening it sounds like a parody out of a comic book and yet it's real. I'm really curious to know what Obama wants out of it.
posted by bleep at 7:26 PM on June 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


Maybe it's so secretive because it actually destroys the corporation disease that's infected the earth so he can't let them find out about it. The leaked stuff is part of the plan.
posted by bleep at 7:33 PM on June 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


We shouldn't be encouraging people to form opinions about bills based on whether they personally side with the legislators or the President.

they might as well decide it on that, because they sure as hell aren't going to be able to decide it on the facts

i say "no" - if we can't know what's in this trade agreement than we shouldn't support it
posted by pyramid termite at 7:50 PM on June 12, 2015 [17 favorites]


I'm completely puzzled by the Obama administration's obsession with passing the TPP.

The constitutional scholar championing extrajudicial murder, the promised "most transparent administration"waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, and that's what puzzles you?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:18 PM on June 12, 2015 [28 favorites]


Obama titled his memoir Dreams from My Father, and his Kenyan father was an economist who believed very much in free -- in the sense of unrestrained -- trade.

But some dreams are nightmares, President Obama; please keep that in mind.
posted by jamjam at 8:20 PM on June 12, 2015


The constitutional scholar championing extrajudicial murder, the promised "most transparent administration"waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, and that's what puzzles you?

Hey now. Nobody said that's the only puzzling thing.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:24 PM on June 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also, fwiw: "championing extrajudicial murder, the promised "most transparent administration"waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers" -- and as it turned out, my girlfriend quite explicitly did not get to keep her doctor. So, hooray for some health care reform and all, but I'm way past accepting "Just trust me, okay?" as an argument from this president.

And on that note: the New Yorker article talks about almost every recent president having fast-track authority. Is this particular go-round something that would only last for the Obama Administration, or would this potentially extend to the next? 'cause that's a whole 'nother big warning sign for me.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:29 PM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


The TPP would hand over our government to a cabal of alien lizard-people.

I mean, I have seen no proof to the contrary.
posted by univac at 8:38 PM on June 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


And yet, we've also seen no proof that it'll do anything good. We've only seen the bad stuff. You'd think that if there was stuff the American public would like, it would be publicized.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:40 PM on June 12, 2015 [15 favorites]


"Free-trade agreement" is some brilliant newspeak, for sure.

It used to be called "reciprocity" a century ago. Free trade is nothing new. Canada has had a free trade agreement with the US for 25 years. Unfortunately, with Buy American, Obama and the Democrats don't respect the agreement the US has with Canada.

If I were an American, I wouldn't really worry about TPP too much, because Americans always change the rules while expecting other countries to abide by them. TPP is imperialism, pure and simple.
posted by Nevin at 8:57 PM on June 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


Worth pulling out from the link that ChurchHatesTucker posted above: an Economix comic strip on the TPP.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:00 PM on June 12, 2015 [29 favorites]


In his last two years Obama has finally felt free to do what he has wanted to all along -- on immigration, Cuba, Iran, climate, and possibly Guantanamo. Many of these things have been on the left, where he is now free to pursue his policies without all the "pragmatism" that usually hinders things. But he is not a left-wing liberal, he's a technocratic liberal. He appears to genuinely believe in the war on terror, drones, surveillance, etc, as well as the benevolent technocracy of the ACA or Sunstein's "nudge"-based work at OIRA. While on the first set he long ago developed deep frustrations with the intransigence of the right, and is now happy to kick sand in their faces when he gets the chance, with the second set he has similarly developed deep frustrations with the left, and is at least as annoyed at this point with their purist overreaction to drones, NSA, the sequester, the ACA, or Syria (which incidentally was the last major vote we had in the House where it was Obama + Republicans vs the Democrats). People like Warren genuinely piss him off because their simplistic, short-term populism threatens what should be easy, bipartisan, lift-all-boats bills like the TPP. The fact that it also involves stripping him of a power all previous presidents have had adds insult to injury -- particularly since he deeply believes in the power of the presidency, and (like most past presidents) is already frustrated with Congress for years of obstruction. The corporatism of the TPP isn't really influencing Obama through anything as crass as direct donations or even worrying about future party fundraising. It's more that he truly believes in the same technocratic, top-down, economist-led, too-complex-for-ordinary-folks decision-making that global capitalism believes in. Watching dummies from his own team wreck it is clearly maddening.

I personally deeply disagree with this view, but it's my best guess as to why he cares so much. He cares because he believes it. Almost more perplexing to me is why the New Yorker left has such trouble believing he believes in it.

[Incidentally, for a great narrative of the Congressional wrangling in the days prior to today's vote, see this article here (starting in particular at "Why Is the Vote So Close?"). It's really a great illustration of the modern Congress in action, and how baroque it has to get when it actually wants to pass anything. Like the Syria authorization vote a half-year ago, this is a truly bipartisan bill, uniting the centrists again both outer wings -- although in this case, the left wing is 90% of the president's own party.]
posted by chortly at 9:02 PM on June 12, 2015 [45 favorites]


Anything we can't read and amend should be out of the question. The deal could give us all unicorns and gold doubloons for all I care, it should still be opposed if we can't know what we're getting into. The unwillingness of the White House to understand why people might have a problem with that is strange to me. They just seem so bluntly tone deaf to people's legitimate concerns.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:08 PM on June 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


From Wikipedia:


Article 4.1 provides that rights holders may “authorize or prohibit all reproductions of their works, performances, and phonograms, in any manner or form, permanent or temporary (including temporary storage in electronic form).”

... TPP includes a requirement that patents be made available for “plants and animals”[92] and “diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical methods for the treatment of humans or animals.”

... the TPP could change US copyright law in several areas. For example, the TPP extends rights to copyright holders over temporary copies,[164] whereas US law specifies that copies must be “fixed”;[165] this may also impact the ISP safe harbor for cached copies of infringing works.[165] The TPP also contains language that would “resolve” court splits in favor of copyright holders on the issues of: parallel imports,[166] whether circumvention liability requires an underlying copyright infringement,[167] and whether authors have a “making available” right.[168] The TPP’s “standards” for preliminary injunctions are quite different from US law, including a 10-day window in which a court must grant the injunction,[169] and no requirement that the right holder show likely irreparable harm. The TPP patent provision has been criticized primarily for its impacts on pharmaceuticals and medical devices,[170] but will likely also impact software and other technology. In particular, the TPP removes the requirement that an inventor disclose the “best mode” of the invention,[171] thus creating the possibility of inventors “retaining the best for [themselves].”
posted by landis at 9:14 PM on June 12, 2015 [14 favorites]


ChurchHatesTucker: "I'm completely puzzled by the Obama administration's obsession with passing the TPP.

The constitutional scholar championing extrajudicial murder, the promised "most transparent administration"waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, and that's what puzzles you?
"

Yeah, folks, thanks for reminding what an epic failure I committed with my vote for Obama first term largely based on the transparency plank in his platform. I had hoped for something new and better, not the same fetid froth of lies and untruth and backroom deals.

I suppose I forgot he was an Illinois politician.
posted by Samizdata at 9:37 PM on June 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Unfortunately, with Buy American, Obama and the Democrats don't respect the agreement the US has with Canada."

From 1933? Surely it didn't come as a shock.

Or Buy America (no N) from 1982?

Or the ARRA provisions of 2009 designed to stimulate US infrastructure spending from which Canada was exempted?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:43 PM on June 12, 2015


"even attempted to justify why the provisions of the TPP are being kept largely secret"

The justification is basically that it's next to impossible to negotiate a multilateral trade agreement when literally EVERYONE IN THE WORLD is bickering about it. True! But also, Democracy: notorious pain in the ass.

It's also particularly difficult for the US to negotiate foreign treaties/deals right now because Congress is so fucking dysfunctional that a foreign deal with the President isn't guaranteed passage in the Senate, and a lot of foreign countries would really prefer not to expose their compromise positions without any security that the US will accept the deal so compromised upon.

I get why the process is this way, but its still a bad process, and a bad treaty.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:53 PM on June 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


There are also people throwing sand in the gears.
posted by sneebler at 9:56 PM on June 12, 2015


EbMcG, I think this "Buy America*" episode is related to recent US government procurement policies, along with some longer-simmering WTO-level disputes.
posted by sneebler at 10:01 PM on June 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's sort of magical how Capital must be allowed to know no borders and yet Labour must be closely confined into specific markets. Sauce, goose, gander and all. I mean, I probably wouldn't like unfettered flow of labour across the planet much either but let's be consistent with this stuff.
posted by Rumple at 10:04 PM on June 12, 2015 [28 favorites]


I've been wondering if the urgency around TPP is due to a belief that China will eventually have to join. Not so much an anti-Chinese policy but a policy that tries to integrate China into the existing economic world order preemptively, on non-Chinese terms.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:46 PM on June 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or the ARRA provisions of 2009 designed to stimulate US infrastructure spending from which Canada was exempted?

Exempted. Exempted?
posted by furtive at 10:56 PM on June 12, 2015


is it pretty much just a "fuck you, because we say so"-type situation?

I haven't been following the politics closely, but I can plausibly understand it as a means of preventing selective leaks causing public outcry favorable to specific sectors. For example, we might want to end the chicken tax in exchange for elimination of trade barriers like rice import bans in Japan.

Such a policy would help US rice growers, and probably cost some of the 800k auto manufacturing employees . It would also generally make trucks better and cheaper for the 8.7 million US based buyers of light trucks. If we expect the benefits of the deal to outweigh the costs, society should approve the deal. However, if the the auto workers have more to lose per person than the buyers, the special interest theory suggests they will lobby harder to stop it than truck owners would lobby for it, having more at stake riding on the outcome.

Ideally, those who lose out in the deal can be compensated with financial aid -- tax the winners a bit to compensate the losers, and you still end up with a net positive deal. Which the Democrats voted down.
posted by pwnguin at 11:17 PM on June 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Whoops, forgot the bit on secrecy. Keeping it secret may prevent the lobbyists from gearing up a lobby campaign to help themselves first, at the nation's expense.
posted by pwnguin at 11:18 PM on June 12, 2015


pwnguin: Actually, aren't the lobbyists in on the negotiations?

No one here is demanding selective leaks, the people (including congress, this time) want to see the entire thing. When we do see leaks, there are often very troubling provisions (see IP provisions).

Obama wants the country to 'trust his judgment'. Neither the left, nor the right trusts his judgement.
posted by el io at 12:11 AM on June 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Even Obama knows you don't fuck with Mickey Mouse.

The most pollyannaish view of the TPP is that it is ditching subsidies in bulk, and must therefore be negotiated in secret by benevolent economists to avoid pissing off rice farmers and lazy unions.

I don't buy this, since there is plenty of evidence that corporate representatives are heavily involved with the bill, if not writing parts of it. Having corporate lawyers as the final arbiters of disputes ensures that no judgement will go against multinational interests (free flow of capital across borders, keeping legal costs high to thwart small competitors, and the ability to shop countries for low taxes and no worker rights).
posted by benzenedream at 12:50 AM on June 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Obama wants the country to 'trust his judgment'. Neither the left, nor the right trusts his judgement.

What dimension is he up to in the multidimensional chess game he's playing, I wonder? It must be in the low thousands by now.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:52 AM on June 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Technocratic liberal? I'll be avoiding that Orwellian term like the plague- the technocratic consensus is fundamentally illiberal. You might as well try to explain Obama's legislative agenda as motivated by populist elitism.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 3:56 AM on June 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you believe that free trade benefits nations, and if you value developing country jobs as much as American jobs, you're going to be much more sympathetic to trade in general. I am, in general, in favor of trade treaties; as a Vietnamese person, it's my extremely poor extended family who will be one of the "winners." But trade does come with a cost to American workers, and without a way to compensate them for that cost, I can't support this deal. You want free trade? Fine. But acknowledge that the U.S. cannot compete with cheap labor, that jobs will be lost, and implement basic income or some other way to shift the financial burden onto the companies who will be benefiting.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:05 AM on June 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


If you believe that free trade benefits nations, and if you value developing country jobs as much as American jobs, you're going to be much more sympathetic to trade in general. I am, in general, in favor of trade treaties; as a Vietnamese person, it's my extremely poor extended family who will be one of the "winners."

If there's anybody who'll work cheaper and in worse conditions than Vietnamese labor will, snickerdoodle, the agreement's going to screw you and yours, too. If you're not fantastically wealthy there is zero reason to support any trade agreement that the filth who negotiate and create these treaties will ever put forth.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:43 AM on June 13, 2015


But trade does come with a cost to American workers, and without a way to compensate them for that cost, I can't support this deal.

While I support the basic income in general, I don't see why Americans should be "compensated" for the loss of American privilege any more than White people should receive such "compensation" for the loss of White privilege.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:54 AM on June 13, 2015




One thing you can't accuse Obama of is not wanting freer markets in labor.

First, most people don't want to move. The way you create a free market for their labor is by facilitating the export of the goods and services they produce -- which is what trade agreements do.

Second, Obama's policy initiatives -- including the immigration portions of TPP as well as the expansion in work visas and amnesties for illegal aliens -- will all open up significant numbers of US jobs to people who are now ineligible for them.

Interestingly, the TPP is one of the first big policy initiatives that will expand the rights of Americans to work abroad which at present are represented by a patchwork of limited bilateral deals and in many countries just the revocable suffrance of their politicians. While very few Americans are focused on this issue, an increased ability to work abroad will dramatically increase the market value of American professional labor and increase the opportunities for American skilled professionals.
posted by MattD at 5:35 AM on June 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's sort of magical how Capital must be allowed to know no borders and yet Labour must be closely confined into specific markets. Sauce, goose, gander and all. I mean, I probably wouldn't like unfettered flow of labour across the planet much either but let's be consistent with this stuff.

You can see it in the UK with the EU. The treaties that make up the EU mandate the free flow of workers as well as capital. The solution? Demonise immigrants. That way states don't have to compete over the level of quality of life they provide to their citizens - which would lead them to press for more redistribution of production.

Obama, sadly, increasingly seems like a more benevolent, competent Tony Blair: he took over a Left that had been previously stomped and eviscerated by the Right and, while he was acceptable because he could win, he could win at least partly because he was acceptable to the Murdoch empire and other strong right-wing groups. Obama probably feels, perhaps even rightly, that he has done the best he could in an impossible situation - and even if you see him as essentially a soft-right business-oriented technocrat, which I do, his achievements are inspiring - but his function has been to keep the same structures and most of the same people in power, just with a somewhat less crazy front-man.
posted by lucien_reeve at 5:38 AM on June 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


we should have the right to see it, read it, and discuss it when it is ready for congressional approval

While I don't approve of the negotiations taking place largely in secret, I thought it was pretty obvious that one of the reasons it was being handled that way was because those aren't necessarily "rights" in all of party nations to the trade deal.

For the purposes of this comment, I'm willing to pretend that they actually are here in the States.
posted by JaredSeth at 5:44 AM on June 13, 2015


Every time I hear a politician say something will be "good for american workers", I always know it will turn out to be pretty bad for american workers.
posted by freakazoid at 6:05 AM on June 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Puppet meet strings.
posted by adamvasco at 6:22 AM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, labor leaders in Vietnam are opposed to the deal.
posted by burden at 6:25 AM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


NYT front page headline: Business Leaders react with dismay. Which tells me that The TPP's defeat is probably an unalloyed win for the rest of us. I'm sorry the President's angry about that; maybe he can go drone-murder a few more American citizens to feel better about himself...
posted by Chrischris at 6:59 AM on June 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


> Every time I hear a politician say something will be "good for american workers",

"In order to serve you better." You hear that a lot these days. "Why are you doing this?" "In order to serve you better."

When I was a boy on the farm we took the cow to be served by the bull. I can't help thinking of that whenever somebody wants to serve me better.
- Will Rogers

posted by jfuller at 8:13 AM on June 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


A suggestion here that this is at least partly related to US access to the Straight of Malacca.
posted by bowline at 8:39 AM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Krugman quoting Daniel Davies:
"Good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance."

This was said in reference to the selling of the Iraq War and is equally true regarding the TPP. The number of outright lies the Obama administration has used to sell the deal is a tip off that it's going to be very bad. You don't need lies to sell a good idea.
posted by JackFlash at 9:17 AM on June 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


If there's anybody who'll work cheaper and in worse conditions than Vietnamese labor will, snickerdoodle, the agreement's going to screw you and yours, too.

There are specific Vietnamese tariffs that will be resolved with TPP. These are largely a legacy of the tension between the U.S. and Vietnam, and serve to make the latter poorer. And if Vietnam develops to the point where labor prices aren't the cheapest (and I would argue that we are already there), that would be a good thing.

I don't see why Americans should be "compensated" for the loss of American privilege any more than White people should receive such "compensation" for the loss of White privilege.

Except the bulk of the "privilege" shift is from American workers to American corporations. Corporations that have bought and paid for American trade policy. Why should liberals accede to this, while receiving nothing in return? It's bad politics, even if you believe that the treaty itself is a net good.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:40 AM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Except the bulk of the "privilege" shift is from American workers to American corporations.

Yes, net gain is meaningless if most of the net gain accrues to the 1%. Why would the other 99% agree to that sort of deal?

And net gain is not even certain. The extension of patent and copyright rules could very well make the deal a net loss for poorer countries like Vietnam. Patents and copyrights are not free trade. They are the opposite of free trade.
posted by JackFlash at 10:01 AM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's been a lot of good discussion of the TPP on the Lawyers, Guns, Money blog. Not sure if they tag things properly, but here is one on why the Vietnamese labour industry was against it.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:26 AM on June 13, 2015


You might as well try to explain Obama's legislative agenda as motivated by populist elitism.

Isn't that a good descriptor of the Progressive Era and other movements, insofar they were championed by educated upper crust statesmen and reformers on behalf of the common man? FDR, who came later, was a blueblood patrician, after all.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:58 PM on June 13, 2015


Not really, TR advocated and rationalized American expansionism and military use to...protect...national...interests...advocating...something/something common...man.

Oh my.
posted by clavdivs at 1:27 PM on June 13, 2015


Interestingly, the TPP is one of the first big policy initiatives that will expand the rights of Americans to work abroad which at present are represented by a patchwork of limited bilateral deals and in many countries just the revocable suffrance of their politicians.

Really, MattD? Care to point out those provisions in the treaty?
posted by MikeKD at 6:25 PM on June 13, 2015


(or even in the leaked drafts)
posted by MikeKD at 6:26 PM on June 13, 2015






Interestingly, the TPP is one of the first big policy initiatives that will expand the rights of Americans to work abroad which at present are represented by a patchwork of limited bilateral deals and in many countries just the revocable suffrance of their politicians.

Right -- because the one thing holding back millions of underemployed debt-ridden U.S. college graduates are restrictions on leaving their own country to find a living wage. /sarcasm

Actually the real problem is in the other direction, restrictions on professionals like doctors, lawyers and accountants from foreign countries to practice in the U.S. I'm guessing not one word on that in the TPP, yet that would make the biggest difference to income inequality in the U.S. by reducing the excess income of professionals and providing lower cost services to the 99%. Lots of stuff about making domestic laborers compete with low cost foreign workers but not much about the making the professional class compete with foreign workers.
posted by JackFlash at 8:44 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not really, TR advocated and rationalized American expansionism and military use to...protect...national...interests...advocating...something/something common...man.

First, I mentioned FDR as the example, second, TR was hardly the only major member of the Progressive movement (Woodrow Wilson could have been considered as part of the movement, despite being a Democrat), third, TR did espouse policies that directly benefited the common man.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:50 AM on June 14, 2015


We shouldn't be encouraging people to form opinions about bills based on whether they personally side with the legislators or the President.

Having not been able to read the bill, or have my elected representative read the bill, or having any industry experts I trust head the bill, I'm not sure what metric I should use to judge it.

I agree with Sanders. The best reason to vote against it is because it's being hidden.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:56 AM on June 15, 2015


My best guess would be that the TPP, rather than opening the door to unrestrained outflow of US manufacturing jobs (which has already happened), is meant to counter the surging influence of China/India on the world economic stage. It's essentially a declaration of economic warfare against China/India and a hedge against their increased power and we've enlisted the support of corporations both domestic and along the pacific rim to help fight this war.

Of course, that's no great shakes for a middle class already largely gutted by unrestrained free trade, but I don't think that they are thinking on that level. They're looking to maintain the US hegemony in the economic world.

The TPP is secret because to broadcast that platform would incite decisive action from China/India/Russia, at least two of whom are already rather inflamed at the US presently.

Just my thoughts from the sideline. I could be way off.
posted by jgooden at 1:13 PM on June 15, 2015


My main argument about the TPP was referenced in the article and is discussed in detail in Naomi Klein's latest book, This Changes Everything. Recent trade agreements have been used as a trump card against environmental treaties such as the Kyoto protocol, and the TPP had language reversing this trend removed from it at the behest of the US Government.

Case in point from the excerpt above: a Canadian program to move one of their provinces to solar power was stopped by a WTO lawsuit from Japan and the EU, claiming that the program's requirement that 60% of the solar components be sourced from within the province discriminated against them. This is bonkers, and needs to be changed. Environmental concerns have to trump those of trade, lest we continue to destroy the planet as we have done.

I'm reminded of an oil company goon on Diane Rehm a few weeks back, during a discussion about Texas and Oklahoma preventing municipalities from banning fracking on their land. The goon said that the cities were within the right to insist upon safe regulations within limits, so long as the regulations didn't discriminate against their industry. Bullshit. We've got to do everything we can now to discriminate against fossil fuel extraction and put our money in renewables if we've any chance to turn things around, and if the TPP is going to continue to allow corporations and other countries to stop progress in this area, then we should do everything we can to prevent it.
posted by daHIFI at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Environmental concerns have to trump those of trade, lest we continue to destroy the planet as we have done.

This is reasonable; but you stop at an odd place. Implicitly, the political priorities you're promoting are, in order: local industry > environment > free trade. Nothing in that WTO suit would Canada from continuing their renewable energy policy by dropping the 60 percent requirement. In fact, it stands to reason the only reason that policy is in place is because Canadian lawmakers believe one could get more solar energy per dollar via imports.

Moreover, allowing local industry to trump free trade results in less investment in exportable renewable energy. Why invest in more production capacity for your solar factory if your market is going to be capped to Denmark? Manufacturing generally follows an efficiency of scale pattern, meaning larger concentrations of manufacturing are more efficient. In this case, more efficient solar production means producing more panels faster to market. Getting "more panels faster to market" sounds like a great win for the environment.

So it seems to me like local capital and labor is holding the environment hostage. Do I have it right that you agree they should?
posted by pwnguin at 11:40 AM on June 19, 2015


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