TPP's "Cardiac Arrest": A Lesson for the Challenges of the Trump Years Ahead

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TPP's "Cardiac Arrest": A Lesson for the Challenges of the Trump Years Ahead

'Let the movement that stopped the TPP serve as a reminder to the powerful: we are many, and you are few'

An anti-TPP message is displayed in Seattle. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—the corporate-friendly trade deal between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations that sparked progressive outcry over its threats to everything from democracy to digital rights to climate goals —now appears to be "in full-blown cardiac arrest."

Not only is there the fact that President-elect Donald Trump campaigned against the deal that President Barack Obama vigorously pushed, multiple news sources reported Friday that the White House has now given up on its efforts to get approval during the "lame-duck" session of Congress.

The Wall Street Journal, for example, reported that the deal "effectively died Friday, as Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress told the White House they won't advance it in the election's aftermath, and Obama administration officials acknowledged it has no way forward now." Reuters reported that the administration said "Friday that the fate of the free trade pact was up to Trump and Republican lawmakers."

The Hill also reported:

"We have worked closely with Congress to resolve outstanding issues and are ready to move forward, but this is a legislative process and it's up to congressional leaders as to whether and when this moves forward," said Matt McAlvanah, a spokesman for the Office of the U.S. trade representative, in an email to The Hill.

A White House official acknowledged on Friday the difficultly of pressing Congress to pass the TPP because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this week that "it’s something that he’s going to work with the president-elect to figure out where they go in terms of trade agreements in the future," according to reports.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had already signaled in August that the U.S. Senate would not vote on TPP this year.

The political newspaper added a statement issued Friday by TPP foe Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who said that "a strong coalition of members of Congress and labor, environmental, faith, and human rights organizations and activists worked diligently to stop this agreement."

That's exactly what some advocacy groups are saying—that the deal's apparent death should not be chalked up to Trump's victory this week but to the grassroots' effort.

"Let's make one thing clear," said Evan Greer, campaign director for digital rights group Fight for the Future. "Donald Trump didn't kill the TPP. We did."

The deal, she continued, would have "globalized Internet censorship, undermined civil liberties, and devastated our economy and our planet."

Instead, "[a]n unprecedented grassroots movement of people and organizations from across the political spectrum came together to spark an uprising that stopped what would have been nothing less than an outright corporate takeover of our democratic process. Together we sounded the alarm, and made the TPP so politically toxic that no presidential candidate who wanted to be elected could support it."

"As we enter a new stage in history, let the movement that stopped the TPP serve as a reminder to the powerful: we are many, and you are few," she continued.

Offering a similar observation on Saturday, Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, said in statement: "The TPP is in full-blown cardiac arrest, thanks to years of international campaigning against this toxic deal, including turning Senate and House elections into contests over rejecting the TPP."

But, according to Barlow, as well as Arthur Stamoulis, executive director at Citizens Trade Campaign, continued vigilance is necessary.

Barlow said that her experience "from watching trade agreements is that free trade proponents always try to resuscitate these deals under different names—CETA, TiSA, and others. We need to put a 'do not resuscitate' order on these corporate deals once and for all."

Stamoulis also acknowledged the "the cross-border, cross-sector, progressive 'movement of movements'" that brought the deal to what could be its very end.

And with the Trump administration—with its "cabinet of horrors"—approaching, Stamoulis writes that "people need to be reminded of their power."

"This victory," he writes, "will be one of the biggest wins against concentrated corporate power in our lifetimes, and it holds lessons we should internalize as we steel ourselves for the many challenges we face heading into the Trump years."

"Trump's vision of internationalism is not one of human rights, worker rights, sustainability, and improving standards of living. The President-elect is a man who, among other things, thinks that workers are overpaid, is hostile to unions, denies climate science, and embraces authoritarian regimes."

"We've all got a lot of work to do," he concludes.

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