Who is writing the TPP?
By Elizabeth Warren and Rosa DeLauro, The Boston Globe
May 11, 2015
Investor-State Dispute Settlement (are) where big companies get the right to challenge laws they don’t like in front of industry-friendly arbitration panels that sit outside of any court system. Those panels can force taxpayers to write huge checks to big corporations – with no appeals. Workers, environmentalists, and human rights advocates don’t get that special right.
Most Americans don’t think of the minimum wage or antismoking regulations as trade barriers. But a foreign corporation has used ISDS to sue Egypt because Egypt raised its minimum wage. Phillip Morris has gone after Australia and Uruguay to stop them from implementing rules to cut smoking rates. Under the TPP, companies could use ISDS to challenge these kinds of government policy decisions – including food safety rules.
The president dismisses these concerns, but some of the nation’s top experts in law and economics are pushing to drop ISDS provisions from future trade agreements. Economist Joe Stiglitz, Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, and others recently noted that “the threat and expense of ISDS proceedings have forced nations to abandon important public policies” and that “laws and regulations enacted by democratically elected officials are put at risk in a process insulated from democratic input.” That was exactly what Germany did in 2011 when it cut back on environmental protections after an ISDS lawsuit.
Clinton has called for trade agreements to “avoid some of the provisions sought by business interests, including our own,” such as ISDS. By definition, massive trade deals like the TPP override domestic laws written, debated, and passed by Congress. If fast-track passes, Congress will have given up its power to strip out any backroom arrangements and special favors like ISDS without tanking the whole deal that contains those giveaways.
We will have also given up our right to strip out whatever other special favors industry can bury in new trade agreements – not just in the TPP, but in potential trade deals for the next six years. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has testified before Congress that trade negotiations involve “pressure to lower standards” on financial regulations and other public interest laws, and that President Obama has resisted that pressure. But Obama will soon leave office, and he cannot bind a future president. We hope he is succeeded by a Democrat, but if not, this legislation risks giving a future president a powerful tool to undermine public interest regulations under the guise of promoting commerce.
Powerful corporate interests have spent a lot of time and money trying to bend Washington’s rules to benefit themselves, and now they want Congress to grease the skids for a TPP deal that corporations have helped write but the public can’t see – and for six years of future agreements that haven’t even been written. Congress should refuse to vote for any expedited procedures to approve the TPP before the trade agreement is made public. And Congress certainly shouldn’t vote for expedited procedures to enact trade deals that don’t yet even exist.
Elizabeth Warren at the Roosevelt Institute (TPP and More)
by Bud Meyers, The Economic Populist
May 12, 2015 – 3:51pm
Elizabeth Warren and Rosa DeLauro could have also mentioned Coke in their article. When the government of Australia’s Northern Territory considered creating a 10-cent refund on recycling plastic bottles, Coca-Cola poured millions of dollars into a misleading campaign to oppose the plan. But after the people Down Under had decided, the plan had passed — but then Coke sued the government to stop the program. Coca-Cola runs similar campaigns all over the world. Of course, this is only one of many other examples.
In other words, President Obama and others who are pushing hard for the TPP trade agreement are really advocating to forfeit our national sovereignty to a group of “multi-national” corporations.