Is TPP (“NAFTA on steroids”) Obama’s Bain Capital?

More about the super-secret (and genuinely scary) Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) trade agreement, courtesy of Public Citizen.

The TPP pact is a world-wide “corporate coup d’état”

A characterization of the super-secret TPP from Lori Wallach, writing in The Nation (my emphasis and paragraphing throughout):

The TPP has been cleverly misbranded as a trade agreement (yawn) by its corporate boosters. As a result, since George W. Bush initiated negotiations in 2008, it has cruised along under the radar.

The Obama administration initially paused the talks, ostensibly to develop a new approach compatible with candidate Obama’s pledges to replace the old NAFTA-based trade model. But by late 2009, talks restarted just where Bush had left off. [Note this; I have a separate point to make on this below.]

Since then, US negotiators have proposed new rights for Big Pharma and pushed into the text aspects of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would limit Internet freedom, despite the derailing of SOPA in Congress earlier this year thanks to public activism.

In June a text of the TPP investment chapter was leaked, revealing that US negotiators are even pushing to expand NAFTA’s notorious corporate tribunals, which have been used to attack domestic public interest laws. [Our coverage of those sovereignty-killing trade courts here.]

Think of the TPP as a stealthy delivery mechanism for policies that could not survive public scrutiny. Indeed, only two of the twenty-six chapters of this corporate Trojan horse cover traditional trade matters.

The rest embody the most florid dreams of the 1 percent—grandiose new rights and privileges for corporations and permanent constraints on government regulation.

They include new investor safeguards to ease job offshoring and assert control over natural resources, and severely limit the regulation of financial services, land use, food safety, natural resources, energy, tobacco, healthcare and more.

“The most florid dreams of the 1 percent—grandiose new rights and privileges for corporations and permanent constraints on government regulation.” Like them apples? Obama does. That’s why he’s negotiating for them.

Ms. Wallach makes the same point we did earlier, that TPP is a world-wide “corporate coup d’état”:

The stakes are extremely high, because the TPP may well be the last “trade” agreement Washington negotiates. This is because if it’s completed, the TPP would remain open for any other country to join. …

Countries would be obliged to conform all their domestic laws and regulations to the TPP’s rules—in effect, a corporate coup d’état[.]

This means, as we said earlier:

Because treaties like NAFTA are folded into national constitutions, international corporations have found a way to establish a new international system of dispute resolution that trumps national governments. … “NAFTA” Bill Clinton has much to answer for.

Like them apples? Obama does.

Does TPP undercut Obama’s “enemy of vulture capital” pose?

As you know (I hope) a presidential election is just an ad campaign — “these hub caps are shinier” or “this candidate is nicer to dogs.” Like with all ad campaigns, the campaigners are primarily concerned with the manipulation of appearances.

As in 2008, Barack Obama has reverted from the “here’s how I roll” reality to his “think of me this way” self-presentation. (See here for a Tale of Two Baracks.)

So President Obama is back in the closet, and Candidate Obama is back on the stump, saying nice things about himself.

This year’s version of “Candidate Obama” is selling himself as the Bane of Bain, the enemy of offshoring predator capitalism.

You’re not the first to have noticed that Obama, Bane of Bain is the enemy of Obama, Friend of the Corporate Coup. Will voters notice? They will if this keep up. From a Public Citizen press release:

Growing congressional, state legislator and activist protests of closed-door negotiations on the Obama administration’s first trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), threatened to undermine the Obama campaign’s attack on Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital U.S. job offshoring activities.

The latest round of TPP talks wrapped up today in San Diego following a week of protests outside the venue, growing concern about TPP in Congress, a letter warning of opposition from state legislators representing all 50 states and delivery of two different petitions with nearly 100,000 signatories each.

A text of the TPP’s investment chapter that leaked last month shows that it includes an expanded version of the rules in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that incentivize investment and job offshoring by eliminating the risks of relocating to lower-wage countries and guaranteeing preferential treatment for relocated firms.

“U.S. negotiators have tried to keep TPP negotiations totally below the radar, but even so opposition to the current “NAFTA-on-steroids-with-Asia” approach is escalating, which is good news for the public but a serious complication for the Obama campaign’s attack on Romney as a U.S. job offshorer,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

Ms. Wallach is the author of the Nation article quoted above, and well-versed in this subject.

Will Obama’s high-pressure support for TPP undercut the Obama campaign’s primary selling point? Stay tuned.

A post-2012 note to Progressives: We need a plan

NeoLiberal Robert Rubin–acolyte Barack Obama is pushing TPP as hard — and as secretly — as he can. What does that make Barack Obama?

In my view, it might make Barack Obama the second most dangerous enemy of progressive and anti-corporate causes in the country. The first most dangerous is anyone bankrolled by Movement Conservative billionaires, because those guys don’t even have to pretend.

This doesn’t mean I’m telling you how to vote in November. In my opinion, that election is over, and I have no interest in inciting Left-on-Left violence over a done deal. People can do what they like till November; I’m good with all of it.

But I am saying that Movement Progressives better get ready, starting now if possible. Because of all possible outcomes post-November, one of them is a full-on assault on progressive values by a completely unfettered 2nd-term friend-of-the-corporate-coup.

It’s up to you to decide what an unfettered Obama will do. I don’t have a crystal ball. But whatever it is he really really wants, I guarantee that’s what he’ll shoot for.

We could spend a long time on that list. I haven’t even touched Israel and the war with Iran.

My point? Hope is not a plan. If Progressives want to be a player in the Battle of the Next Four Years, we need to do better than hope for the best. We need a plan for a worst-case Obama second term. It’s called hugging the monster.

I’m serious. It’s a good thing to act. It’s better to act with a plan. Mes centimes (French for “word”).

Our previous TPP coverage

For reference, a short list of our previous coverage:

Why are the Trans Pacific free trade negotiations secret? — May 11, 2012

Obama trade document leaked, reveals new corporate powers and broken promises — June 14, 2012

Thanks for your attention to this subject. In my opinion, this pales next to the global warming catastrophe, but not by much, since it will structurally change the government of the world. And this catastrophe will happen first, unless we put ourselves in the way of it.

Mes centimes,

GP

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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