«

»

May 13 2015

Democratic Rebellion Over Bad Trade Agreements

In an unprecedented break with the White House, Democrats in the Senate refuse to back fast-track authority for the president. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Nobel laureate in Economics Joseph E. Stiglitz joins”All In” host Chris Hayes after he called the president’s criticism “disrespectful.

The 10 biggest lies you’ve been told about the Trans-Pacific Partnership

David Dayen, Salon

You can call it “misleading” or “offering half-truths,” but when push comes to a shove, these are lies

It’s beneath the dignity of the Presidency to so aggressively paint opponents as not just wrong on the facts, but hiding the truth on purpose. Warren has responded without using the same indecorous tactics. Unfortunately, I don’t have the same self-control. So by way of response, here are ten moments where the President or his subordinates have lied – call it “misled” or “offered half-truths” or whatever; but I’m in an ornery mood so let’s just say lied – about his trade agenda:

1. 40 PERCENT: The President and his team have repeatedly described TPP as a deal involving nearly 40 percent of global GDPThis tells only part of the story. [..

The point is that saying TPP is about “40 percent of GDP” intimates that it would massively change the ability to export without tariffs. In reality it would have virtually no significance in opening new markets. To the extent that there’s a barrier in global trade today, it comes from currency manipulation by countries wanting to keep their exports cheap. The TPP has no currency provisions.

2. JOB CREATION: Saying, as the White House has, that the deal would support “an additional 650,000 jobs” is not true. This figure came from a hypothetical calculation of a report by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, which the Institute itself said was an incorrect way to use their data. [..]

The deal is actually more about building up barriers than taking them down. Much of TPP is devoted to increasing copyright and patent protections for prescription drugs and Hollywood media content. As economist Dean Baker notes, this is protectionist, and will raise prices for drugs, movies and music here and abroad.

3. EXPORTS ONLY: The Administration constantly discusses trade as solely a question of U.S. exports. A recent Council of Economic Advisors report (pdf) touts: Exporters pay higher wages, and export industry growth translates into higher average earnings. But the Economic Policy Institute points out that this ignores imports, and therefore the ballooning trade deficit, which weighs down economic growth and wages.

4. MOST PROGRESSIVE: Obama has called TPP “the most progressive trade deal in history.” First of all, so did ill Clinton and Al Gore, when talking about NAFTA in 1993. Second, there’s reason to believe TPP doesn’t even clear a low bar for progressive trade deals. [..]

Labor groups can only ask the White House to enforce labor rights violations, and for the past several years, the Administration simply hasn’t. So when Obama says violators of TPP will face “meaningful consequences,” based on the Administration’s prior enforcement, he’s lying.

5. CHANGING LAWS: On the controversial topic of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), where corporations can sue sovereign governments for monetary damages for violating trade agreements that hurt the company’s “expected future profits,” the White House has engaged in a shell game. [..]

Even third-party countries have curtailed regulations in reaction to ISDS rulings, as New Zealand did with their cigarette packaging law, awaiting the outcome of a dispute between the tobacco industry and Australia (a suit that continues despite an initial victory for Australia).

6. NEVER LOST: The White House assumes that the only thing America cares about with ISDS is the upsetting of our own laws. [..]

This is irrelevant. What ISDS does is offer bailout insurance policy to multinational corporations. If they run into discrimination or regulatory squeezing by a foreign government, they can use an extra-judicial process to recoup their investment. Workers screwed over by trade agreements have no ability to sue governments; only corporations get this privilege.

7. WEAKENING DODD-FRANK: Obama reacted strongly to Senator Warren’s charge that a future President could overturn financial regulations or other rules through trade deals. [..]

A future President might find it acceptable, and today’s vote on “fast-track” authority would give trade deals an expedited process, with no amendments or filibusters by Congress, for six years, outlasting the current Administration. Scott Walker or Jeb Bush may decide it’s perfectly appropriate to undermine regulations in trade deals.

8. STOPPING CHINA: President Obama frequently casts TPP as a way to “contain” China. [..]

This is so facile as to be totally meaningless. China is a major Pacific Rim economy, and will have a presence regardless of our actions. As former Clinton Defense Department official Chas Freeman writes, “China has been and will remain an inseparable part of China’s success story.” [..]

9. SECRET DEAL: Obama has angrily dismissed the notion that TPP is a “secret” deal, saying that everyone will have public access to the TPP text for at least 60 days before a final vote. This is not the point opponents are making. The vote on fast track would severely limit Congressional input into the deal. And right now, members of Congress can only see the text in a secure room, without being able to bring staffers or take notes, or even talk about specifics in public. That makes the deal effectively secret during the fast track vote. [..]

10. JUST A POLITICIAN: This idea from Obama that everybody opposing fast-track is acting like a mere “politician,” aside from demonizing the concept of representing constituents, neglects the fact that he’s a politician too. [..]

Since Obama has a large platform and will not publicly debate any opponent on trade, he can float above it all, acting like a principled soul only wanting to better the country rather than a transactional ward heeler. This may be the biggest lie, that Obama’s somehow superior to everyone else in this debate.

 

1 ping

Comments have been disabled.