It is my opinion that there have only been three true scandals during the Obama administration. The first was his refusal to arrest and try white-collar criminals during the financial crisis. The second, his gutting of NASA and privatizing space exploration at the behest of a focus group filled with aerospace industry executives
The third is his trade agenda.
rade and I
artnership, also known as "TAFTA"
, is a proposed free trade agreement between the United States of America and the European Union.
artnership is a proposed trade regulation agreement between 11 countries on the Pacific Rim- Canada, Mexico, the U.S., Chile, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Australia, and New Zealand.
The Trade Promotion Authority is a proposed renewal of a former power of the United States President. It grants him the ability to present trade agreements to the United States Congress as solely an up-or-down vote, with no filibuster or amendments allowed.
Anyone who has read the text of the [TPP] agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents ... So-called “cleared advisors” like me
are prohibited from sharing publicly the criticisms we’ve lodged about specific proposals and approaches ... The law prohibits us from talking about the specifics of what we’ve seen ... Only portions of the text have been provided, to be read under the watchful eye of a USTR official ... We have to travel to certain government facilities and sign in to read the materials. Even then, the administration determines what we can and cannot review and, often, they provide carefully edited summaries rather than the actual underlying text.
The two trade agreements above are secret. Journalists are not allowed at the negotiations. There are no outlines of the proposed deals. U.S. congressmen complain that they are denied access to even the barest details of the agreements while lobbyists for Haliburton, Chevron, and the MPAA (did I mention there's rules on intellectual property in both agreements?) are routinely consulted and were even allowed to write parts of the treaties. What little we the people know of the agreements has only been the result of leaks, not transparency.
The agreements themselves are laundry lists of horrors:
a. European agribusiness has called for the repeal of the U.S. Grade A standard for milk, acknowledging that it was put in place to prevent foodborne disease [turberculosis can be gotten from milk] but stating that the standard is an "obstacle" because complying with it is "cumbersome and highly expensive".
b. European oil corporations have said "U.S. (alternative) fuel credits should become impossible in the future".
c. European pharmaceutical manufacturers want the FDA to relinquish its authority to independently approve whether medicines sold in the U.S. are safe for U.S. consumers, instead relying on a European determination of safety.
d. The E.U. has targeted U.S. states' and cities' "Buy Local" procurement policies for banning, as well as the ban of "Buy American" Federal contracts.
e. The agreement includes the odious secret tribunals of previous free trade agreements, which allow foreign corporations to challenge U.S. health, safety, and environmental laws before unelected judges and be awarded billions in your taxpayer dollars if they win.
f. Did I mention that it's a free trade agreement? Free trade with Canada and Mexico alone cost the U.S. 55,000 factories and over 3.5 million manufacturing jobs, with countless more jobs created overseas instead of at home.
g. Wall Street has teamed up with The City on this one. Volcker Rule? Gone. Glass-Steagal? Never coming back.
h. It includes SOPA, because why the heck not
a. It also includes SOPA! And the secret courts, and the banning of Buy American policies, etc etc. It's almost exactly the same
as TAFTA, but for Asia instead of Europe.
b. It also forces the U.S. to allow food imports if the exporting country claims its food safety laws are "equivalent" to our own, even if the imports violate our food safety laws. Food safety rules on pesticides? Gone. On illegal additives? Gone. Country of origin labels so you can try to avoid tainted new imports? Gone.
Nothing secret about it.
Who is responsible for these abominations? An unknown, unelected official named Michael Froman
. Froman first started out in the Department of the Treasury in the 90s, where he helped out with the "shock therapy" of the former Soviet Union by way of extreme liberal economic policies. After helping his mentor, Robert Rubin, compose NAFTA he ditched government work for a cushy, 10-million-a-year job at Citigroup. When his former Harvard classmate (and compadre at the Harvard Law Review) Barack Obama was elected Senator in 2004, Froman took it upon himself to advise the young Congressman on economic issues. A grateful President awarded him numerous positions, with the cherry on top being the U.S. Trade Representative in 2013, a powerful posting that grants full authority to negotiate and recommend trade agreements.
In the last month or so the Trade Promotion Authority was up for a vote, and was narrowly defeated by House Democrats. The labor unions had threatened to support their opponents in elections if they voted Aye, even going so far as to support a Republican candidate if that meant defeating the incumbent. The Republicans themselves (with the exception of those shoved out of mainstream conservatism like Pat Buchanan) are full-on free trade and Speaker of the House John Boehner has promised a rematch on the TPA next week. The President himself is also pushing full-steam ahead on these agreements, and I'm surprised that he isn't wondering why the GOP (which has hated him for his entire administration) is cheerfully working with him on this. Maybe he doesn't care- he'll certainly lying
if and when he says that the U.S. worker gets a seat at the table.
I know I can be a little John Birch-y at times, but this thing really is as bad as you think. The bit about circumventing food safety laws with no country of origin labels? That's terrifying, considering that imported seafood is already unsafe
. Not to mention that the PRC busted factory owners for making soy sauce out of human hair back in 2004.