Skip to content

Trade talk

A diarist at Kos asks what the fact that Trump is “running to the left” of Hillary on the TPP means. I found this post interesting for a number of reasons.

First, opposition to the TPP is not necessarily a “left” position. If it is, it is a position in which the left and right meet. Trump’s fans have been against the TPP from the start, and they are not leftists.

I was also interested in the fact that the diarist really was quite ignorant about what the TPP actually does:

Among its many, many provisions, its primary goal is to reduce tariffs and promote more trade among its members.

It reducing tariffs were in fact the primary goal, the TPP might (I say “might”) be more defensible. But that is not its primary goal. It’s primary goal is to provide increased protection for corporate profits. For my first and only witness, I call Dean Baker:

The TPP actually does very little to advance free and open trade, primarily because the trade barriers between the countries in the pact are already low. This is why the International Trade Commission (ITC) found that removal of these barriers would add just over 0.01 percentage point to annual growth over the next 16 years.

In fact, because it increases barriers in the form of longer and stronger patent and copyright protection, the TPP may on net actually increase protectionism among the countries in the pact. (The ITC did not factor in the impact of higher prices for prescription drugs and other protected products in its analysis.)

In addition to these protectionist measures, the TPP may also restrict labor mobility through its clause on industrial secrets. This could require states to enforce non-compete agreements that prevent workers from moving from one company to another or starting their own business.

The TPP also effectively brings in through the backdoor, the far right-wing legal doctrine of regulatory takings. Under the rules in the TPP, foreign investors would have to be compensated for any regulatory action that reduced their profits. This is a major issue for many opponents of the deal.

via Beat the Press

It’s hard to believe that anyone who regularly reads the Daily Kos would be unaware of the clear and present danger the TPP poses to national sovereignty, not to mention the environment. Consider that right now, the US is being sued by TransCanada for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline. Our government is being sued in a kangaroo court set up under the NAFTA agreement. The “judges” hearing the case will be corporate lawyers. This is the primary reason why the Obama administration made it so difficult for anyone to actually read the text of the agreement.

Perhaps the most disheartening thing about this post was the comments. I started looking through the 401 comments that had been posted as of the time I reviewed them, to see if anyone made the obvious point that the TPP is not really about reducing tariffs. Maybe someone did, but I didn’t see it. Instead, the conversation degenerated into a ridiculous argument between Hillary fans and not so Hillary fans about her “opposition” to the TPP. We Democrats are supposed to be realists. Whatever your opinion of Hillary, you are deluding yourself if you actually believe that her “opposition” to the TPP is anything other than campaign rhetoric, something that has been laden with escape clauses from the start. Our best hope, should she get elected (and assuming it isn’t snuck through in the pre-inauguration period), is that the Republicans will be so anxious to prevent her getting her way that enough of them will combine with progressive Democrats to reject the treaty. If that happens, it will be the first time in years that the term “bi-partisan” will be applied to something that actually benefits the country.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.