TPP – Obama Punches Democracy in the Gut

Obama is in big trouble. Progressives already are not thrilled with Obama. NDAA authorizes defense spending and indefinite detention of American citizens without charge, there’s his wishy washy defense of the environment (BP oil spill, fracking, pipelines),  his use of drones, his continued engagement in war, and his bail out of banks. But hey, Progressives leave room to grow and he talks a good game, plus he had a much more typically American upbringing than his privileged opponent in that he struggled with a single mom and worked his way up. Obama talked about empathy, his wife is into growing organic gardens, the family is much more “of the people” and can speak to the people better than the Romneys, for a while it seemed like Obama would win easily.

Now it doesn’t.

With all of the compromises that Obama has made (and the fact that his “opponents” while in office made so few), he is already a hard sell to the base that put him in office, but this last story about TPP, one that had to be “leaked” because it was so secretive, is a game changer.

TPP stands for Trans Pacific Partnership. It is like NAFTA for the Pacific and involves Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. What seems different about this trade agreement are the usurption of many of our sovereign laws. Obama seems to be happy to hand over many of our hard won environmental, socially just, and economically fair ideas to the whims of multinational corporations. Just like with NAFTA before it, this agreement can only bring down the wages of employers and suck even more power from our democracy (I wrote about NAFTA here).

Via CommonDreams and Public Citizen, here are some “lowlights” of what to expect:

  • Limit how U.S. federal and state officials could regulate foreign firms operating within U.S. boundaries, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms;
  • Extend the incentives for U.S. firms to offshore investment and jobs to lower-wage countries;
  • Establish a two-track legal system that gives foreign firms new rights to skirt U.S. courts and laws, directly sue the U.S. government before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for financial, health, environmental, land use and other laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges; and
  • Allow foreign firms to demand compensation for the costs of complying with U.S. financial or environmental regulations that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms.

“The airing of this one TPP chapter,” said Wallach, “which greatly favors foreign corporations over domestic businesses and the public interest and exposes us to significant financial liabilities, shows that the whole draft text must be released immediately so it can be reviewed and debated. Absent that, these negotiations must be ended now.”

It is noted in the same article, polls have consistently shown that that NO ONE – not Democrats, or Independents, or Republicans – want or like NAFTA style trade agreements. What’s in it for us? We can all see what it’s done for our earning power. Our earning power has gone down or is unchanged since NAFTA became reality.

If Mitt Romney could get in on the TPP negotiations, it sounds like something he would love too. The thing is, I expect that from Romney, we all do. If it isn’t apparent to a potential voter by now that Romney will do whatever it takes to make a buck or get a vote, then you haven’t been paying attention. With Obama though, he talks the talk but does not walk the walk. Apparently he likes talking the talk in private only it is totally different from the talk he gives us.

When given a choice of two people screwing me over, I will always take the guy that is transparently screwing me over instead of the guy who’s telling me he’s empowering me while screwing me over. It’s an additional insult to be lied to on top of being screwed over.

Obama has some ‘splainin’ to do.

If he is truly spearheading these TPP negotiations (or allowing them on his watch), and is so ready to surrender American values of democracy, hard work, fair wages, safe workplaces, sane hours, healthy environment – he has been lying to those that support him. It appears as if he is willing to waive many of our democratically achieved gains for the benefit of multinational corporations.

When it comes to persuasion and talking politics, values are all that counts, it’s been proven again and again. However, even before values can be discussed, a baseline of trust must be established. Authenticity and trust are the foundation of real communication – it’s why anything our Grandma has to say is inherently more true than what a random used car salesman would say. Both might say they love you, but you know the salesman has an ulterior motive and is not trustworthy.

If Obama is serious about getting re-elected, he needs to spend less time on fanciful techno rallies and more on the substance of his record. He must realize that making a new trade agreement will be extremely unpopular and deactivate his base. His base gets excited about empathy – the underlying value of progressive politics, the TPP agreement is about the struggle between classes and the working class trying to get a leg up once again. Wisconsin has helped pave the way to a nation that no longer has the security of labor laws and if you’d like those securities, it just may cost you your job.


Here is the general page/blog about TPP from the US Trade Representative. Here is a government provided FAQ about the TPP. Here is a page where you can supposedly post questions or comments (some sections say that comments are no longer allowed). I encourage all of us to learn more about how the TPP will affect us.


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4 thoughts on “TPP – Obama Punches Democracy in the Gut

  1. lokywoky says:

    I listened to a podcast recently where one of the speakers from the Black Agenda organization was commenting on the topic of “voting for the lesser of two evils”. He said that Obama is not the lesser of two evils – he is the “effective evil”. He went on to explain that Obama is everything that Bush/Cheney was, only more highly effective. Bush/Cheney sneaked policies in through the back door, Obama has brought them into the light and codified them into law. So much for our ‘constitutional law professor’ president. Ha!

    This speaker and the others on the panel discussion however did NOT advocate voting for Romney. They DID advise that the only way that things in this country ever changed was when masses of people mobilized in the streets – and yes it almost always happened when we had Democratic presidents. We must remember that Obama challenged us to make him do the right thing – much as FDR did. So we really really need to get out there with Occupy and get busy and challenge him.

    First we have to re-elect him, much as that creates a horrid taste in our mouths because the alternative is even more horrid to contemplate. Then we need to make him do the right thing. But we cannot wait until after the election. We need to start now. After the election will be too late.

    • Amy Meier says:

      Again, you hit the nail on the head on all counts.

      I am truly distressed about the disappoinment the “Constitutional Expertise” we have gotten.

      While, I would agree with the panelists that Romney is definitely NOT the answer. The Obama camp had better realize that folks thinking this way are less and less motivated to even bother to vote.

  2. Robert Malt says:

    I am not surprised that Obama is worse than Bush/Cheney on Constitutionally-guaranteed civil liberties. Why didn’t anyone in the Democrat Party stand up and challenge him in the primary?

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