TPP is a secret Obama trade agreement that will trump national sovereignty

This continues our focus on Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, otherwise known as TPP.

I’ve been saying for a while that the three big battles with second-term Obama are to oppose:

▪ Social insurance benefit cuts (the “Grand Bargain”)
▪ Keystone tar-carrying pipeline
▪ The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the next big NAFTA-style “trade” agreement

What’s wrong with TPP and these “trade” agreements?

There are several problems with these “trade” agreements — one, the extreme secrecy, will be discussed in the video below — but I’ll detail just two others here.

First, they’re not trade agreements at all, but “unrestricted capital flow” agreements — “capital is king” agreements. Unrestricted trade is just a by-product, a secondary effect. From an earlier piece:

In its simplest terms, “free trade” means one thing only — the ability of people with capital to move that capital freely, anywhere in the world, seeking the highest profit. It’s been said of Bush II, for example, that “when Bush talks of ‘freedom’, he doesn’t mean human freedom, he means freedom to move money.” …

At its heart, free trade doesn’t mean the ability to trade freely per se; that’s just a byproduct. It means the ability to invest freely without governmental constraint. Free trade is why factories in China have American investors and partners — because you can’t bring down manufacturing wages in Michigan and Alabama if you can’t set up slave factories somewhere else and get your government to make that capital move cost-free, or even tax-incentivized, out of your supposed home country and into a place ripe for predation.

Can you see why both right-wing kings (Koch Bros, Walmart-heir dukes and earls, Reagan I, Bush I and II) and left-wing honchos (Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin, Barack Obama) make “free trade” the cornerstone of each of their economic policies? It’s the song of the rich, and they all sing it.

That’s the first thing that’s wrong with these agreements — they enable totally unrestricted capital flow, and anything that gets in the way of capital is cleared away. Environmental concerns? Doesn’t trump profit. Wage concerns? Doesn’t trump profit. Prosecution for murder of labor leaders in Colombia? Sorry; gotta make a “free-trade” buck.

TPP member heads of state (source: Chilean govt. flickr account)

TPP member heads of state (source: Chilean govt. flickr account)

Another by-product of unrestricted capital flow, by the way, is boom-and-bust economies. When hot banking money flowed like wine into places like Spain, the economy bloomed, wages rose, prices rose — and a giant bubble was created. When the crash occurred, all that (German, French, U.S., etc.) investment money raced out like water from a broken cup, and the Spanish economy crashed. Prices fell through the floor, as did wages, and the government went from a surplus to a deficit.

None of the crashed economies have recovered, since the E.U. kings and queens (EU central bank and the bankers who control it) are insisting all through Europe that every bond-holding investor be made whole before anything else is done.

TPP “trade” agreement courts trump national sovereignty

The second problem with these “trade” agreements is that they trump national sovereignty. This is very clever and literally true. I’ve written about this before, as have others, but here it is in a nutshell. From a different earlier piece, here’s how it works with NAFTA and the NAFTA court (slightly modified):

In general, the corporate-sovereignty story goes like this:

▪ Nations have national courts, including a Supreme Court, the top court in the country.

▪ National courts operate under the nation’s constitution, its “supreme law of the land.”

▪ In the U.S. and many other countries, treaties are folded into the constitution and become part of that “supreme law.” (If you think about it, this is the only way treaties can be enforced.)

▪ In the U.S. Constitution, the clause that does this is the Supremecy Clause:

Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, establishes the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and U.S. Treaties as “the supreme law of the land.”

▪ NAFTA and other “free trade” treaties have their own court system, operating by rules specific to that treaty. In NAFTA’s case, it’s the NAFTA court. In TPP’s case, it will be the TPP court.

▪ Corporations from any NAFTA nation can sue cross-border nations, states, and municipalities in NAFTA court for “lost profits” due to regulations (among a variety of other reasons).

▪ Courts that are structured like the NAFTA court have jurisdiction that is superior to the member nations’ court system. This jurisdiction is given to them by the language of the NAFTA treaty.

▪ 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.

▪ The U.S. Supreme Court can’t overturn a NAFTA court decision. Thus, in this new system, corps (and the billionaires who run them) rule.

Breath-taking, right? “NAFTA” Bill Clinton has much to answer for. This is the “one-world order” your grandpa warned you about. But he thought it would be “libruls” or the Trilateral Commission or the Bilderberg Group in charge. Nope; it’s our friends at GE, Walmart, Nestlé, and the gang at Mouse (sorry, the folks at Disney) that will soon have the nation’s nuts in their squirrel-like hands.

There are a number of other reasons to oppose these agreements; for example, they seem more interested in outlawing governmental regulations than in enabling trade. And as you’ll hear below, the “negotiators” are almost always feathering their nests for after they leave government and these treaties are in effect.

But let’s leave it at this for the moment. If you remember only two things about TPP-style “trade” agreements, remember this. They (a) make capital the king of the world, and (b) allow rule-by-the-rich to trump national sovereignty for any nation that signs on.

A primer on TPP from Dave Johnson and Stuart Zechman

Dave Johnson, of Campaign for America’s Future and Seeing the Forest, is one of our best writers on this subject. (For example, this piece on TPP and Deregulation is a must-read). Here he is in a short conversation with Stuart Zechman from a recent Virtually Speaking Sundays show.

The whole show is typically an hour, and this one is fascinating (click to hear it all). The first half dealt with how Apple uses corp-written tax policies to pay almost no taxes on its billions in profit. The clip below is the heart of their second-half discussion of TPP.

Both contributors add great ideas. Johnson speaks first. Listen:

Did you catch the “negotiators feathering their nest” part (1:06)? Clinton’s NAFTA “trade negotiator” Carla Hills loaded the NAFTA court with corp-enabling power, then quit and went to work representing corps … who wanted to take advantage of NAFTA court decisions. Ms. Hills now lives on Thank-You Street.

I’ll have much more on TPP — for example, I’ll take a closer look at the leaked parts of the treaty so far. Remember, as Johnson and Zechman say, it’s still under negotiation, it’s so secret that Congress can’t see it, it will be “fast-tracked” when it’s ready, and every corp who counts has a seat at the table right now.

To stop corp-rule, which is a proxy for international billionaire rule, we have to stop Obama’s push for TPP. Obama, of course, has other plans. After all, presidential libraries don’t fund themselves. But that’s his lookout; ours is the health of the actual country. Too bad we’re not on the same side on this.

Stay tuned.

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


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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  • http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=PerryLogan Perry Logan

    Except that, under Clinton, the economy was booming. And we were paying off the deficit. And poverty was down. And there wasn’t the secrecy. And we didn’t have this fascist-takeover thing going on.

  • emjayay

    Great observation Comrade.

  • clarenceswinney

    SLOW AND POOR
    The current GDP growth will take twenty years to get back to potential GDP.
    We have a 10 million jobs gap.
    Gairns from income went to top 1% or fewer.
    One percent got 121% increase in income between 2009 and 2011.
    Wages still low where is Minimum wage increase to offset top 1% gain.
    44 million earn minimum wage. 280,000 recent college grads get minimum wage.
    College grads hold large debt.
    Thirteen million homes still “under water”.
    54,000 foreclosed last month.
    Record trade deficit with China.
    Retirement crisis As Republicans talk about cutting elderly benefits.
    Scary! Anyone have answers?

  • Whitewitch

    You mistake me for someone that supports the President. I was simply stating my belief about why he might not be using the White House…not defending that fact. I am disappointed beyond saying about how this is working out and I hope that it turns around. Keep in mind that Romney would have been no better – so it would be nice if in 2016 we had someone we could actually vote for – like Bernie Sanders.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    LIKE

  • nicho

    It’s not a private estate. It’s an educational center.

  • Naja pallida

    Not just the loss of American jobs, but the loss of American everything. Sovereignty, money, jobs, homes, security, freedom… the list goes on and on and on.

  • JosephP

    I agree…it sends a bad message by meeting him in a private estate. It’s as if the business being transacted there is between Obama and the Chinese leader and does not involve the citizens that elected Obama and gave him this power. I’m suspicious that this message was sent intentionally.

  • JosephP

    No doubt Obama will “serve” on the boards of some international mega-corporations after he leaves office, and his daughters will marry the sons of rich investment bankers.

    Just like Clinton.

  • lynchie

    One thing you missed is this asshole supposedly works for us not the 1%. I am sick and tired of his drone wars, endless wiretapping, lack of transparency, lack of any effort on jobs (except TPP sounds like that will be made much worse) attacks on Medicare, attacks on SS, constant sucking the tit of big business and wall street. This smacks of his elitism and is in keeping with Michelle’s hissie fit when heckled by the lack of interest if his Obamaness. As president the millions we spend on the WH are done so as a show piece to the world. Bring the chinese ass hat to the seat of power and make him be the one who is subservient. An off site location shows cow towing to the chinese and I call bullshit to that. If he is afraid of someone listening well welcome to the USA. The land of tapped phones, of read emails where nothing we have is private. If it is good enough for me it is good enough of him.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Clinton Part II

  • Whitewitch

    Could be that he is not sure who is listening in the White House and feels safer/more at ease elsewhere – I know I would. Not defending him – I just am saying I understand why he might not dig the digs at the WH.

  • JayRandal

    I see no valid reasons for Obama to meet with Chinese leader in Palm Springs.
    Obama seems to think White House isn’t posh enough for meetings with dignitaries.
    Not big enough for state dinners so he had a one night dining structure built and another time a huge circus tent erected for dinner event. He acts like a king at times.

  • Indigo

    Yeah, the billionaire house-thing stinks. What’s wrong with Camp David? Not enough lace?

  • Indigo

    So while China buys us, our Lords & Masters can buy China. It sound strangely like the Byzantine Emperor buying off Attila the Hun who then does not invade Italy because the Roman Emperor also bought him off. Meanwhile, German bankers wearing EU blue jacket logos purchase Athens through the indirect processes of foreclosure and the dish runs away with the spoon.

    It’s an ugly scenario and, I fear, unstoppable.

  • JayRandal

    He should have met with him at the White House in Washington-DC. Obama is going
    rogue on just about everything now. Some Presidents become better in 2nd terms and some become worse like Nixon and now Obama.

  • nicho

    You’re saying he should have met him at a Starbucks for a coffee?

  • JayRandal

    When Obama made decision to meet China’s leader at a billionaire’s house in Palm Springs, CA, he revealed himself as a corporatist who works for global wealthy Elite. So-called free trade agreements
    result in loss of American jobs.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Far-right crazies organize entire legislatures around ‘stopping the UN’, it’s small arms treaty and ‘Agenda 21′. None of which will ever have any shred of effect on US laws.

    None of the same far-right crazies give a shit about the TPP and other such trade agreements that have immediate and irreversible effects on the nation’s sovereignty.

    It’s because the far-right crazies are controlled by the insanely wealthy, like the Koch Brothers. And the obscenely wealthy don’t want their TeaBircher puppets to DO anything about REAL threats to US Sovereignty, only fake ones.

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