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A group of demonstrators protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership gather at the Federal Buileing in San Francisco, California June 9, 2015. The proposed regional regulatory and investment treaty would include 12 nations throughout the Asia Pacific region that have participated in negotiations. (Photo: Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

The TPP “Lame Duck” Push Insults Democracy

In the United States “We the People” are supposed to have a say in how we are governed, right? So shouldn’t we have a say in how we are governed?

President Obama, Wall Street and the giant, multinational corporations are pushing – and pushing hard – for a vote in Congress in the “lame duck” congressional session after the election to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The most recent pitch by Obama was on Monday at a summit of business leaders in Washington, where he said the TPP “will do even more to lower the cost of exporting, eliminating taxes and custom duties, and raising intellectual property standards that protect data and ideas and jobs.”

Here is why the push is on. The so-called “lame duck” session of Congress is particularly unaccountable. Those who might have been tossed in the November elections are still able to vote. Newly elected and reelected legislators are not yet sworn in, so they can’t vote. And reelected legislators have the opportunity to pay back the big donors who funded their campaigns, knowing voters have two long years to forget what they did.

For example, Rep. Randy Forbes, a Republican representing Virginia’s 4th congressional district who is a proponent of TPP, lost his primary to Scott Taylor, a TPP opponent who called the deal “Obamatrade” in the Republican primary. The TPP, and Forbes’ earlier vote for “fast track” trade authority to grease the skids for TPP, was a major issue in the primary.

But even though Forbes was tossed out by his constituents because of his support for fast track and TPP, he will still be able to vote if TPP comes up in the lame duck session of Congress. Forbes will be looking for a job – probably from the very corporations that support TPP.

See if you can guess which way he will vote on TPP, after being tossed out for supporting “free trade.”

Send Obama a message with this petition: Don’t undermine our presidential nominee. No lame-duck vote on the TPP!.

Meanwhile, Obama Makes His Pitch

Reuters reported Monday that when President Obama was out pitching the TPP, it was not simply as a “trade” deal.

“So let me just remind you that this is not just about jobs and trade, it’s not just about hard, cold cash. It’s also about building relationships across borders. When your companies come together, you help bring countries and cultures together.”

That is all well and good, but shouldn’t the President be selling a “trade” deal on the merits of the “trade” and jobs it will bring? The problem is this is not about “trade” at all; it’s about elevating corporations above governments so corporations can seek the cheapest labor and fewest regulations – and governments can’t stop them. The president is talking about non-trade aspects of the agreement because he can’t promote the economic benefits to Americans. There aren’t any.

The president is not focusing here on the issues the public cares about: the economy and jobs. And, by the way, the president’s TPP push undermines the Democratic Party’s candidate for president against Republican Donald Trump.

Insult To Democracy

The president, Wall Street and the big corporations are pushing for this vote to occur at this time because they know this is the last time to push it through before the will of the public can take hold. This vote will occur with a lame-duck Congress, a lame-duck president, and a lame-duck “free-trade” policy that is finally being shown the door by the voters.

The corporate/Wall Street elites know the public has figured out how “free trade” has cost us so much. The middle class is being wiped out. Entire regions of the country are being wiped out. Our manufacturing ecosystem is being wiped out. Inequality is soaring and democracy is being replaced by plutocracy.

Opinion polls show that the public is fed up with corporate-dominated trade agreement that enrich a few Wall Street investors and corporate executives at the expense of the rest of the people in the world. Elites know the public wants a new trade paradigm that takes into account the interests – from labor to consumers, from environmental to human rights – of all “stakeholders” in the world’s economy.

Elites know the new Congress won’t pass it. Elites know that in this election candidates supporting “free trade” are facing obstacles and opponents, even losing their primaries. They know that candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump oppose it. This means that the next president will stop TPP from coming to a vote.

The economic elites want this vote to occur after the election because the new president will oppose it, and the public and the next Congress will stop it.

Leaders should care deeply about the will of the public, not scheme to subvert it. This push for a vote on TPP after the election is an insult to democracy. It is an insult to our economy. It is an insult to the candidates. It is an insult to voters. Don’t do it.

What Can You Do?

First, vote. Second, prepare to come to Washington after the election if they try to hold a TPP vote. A million people in the streets might be able to block it.

Sign this petition to “Ask Leader Pelosi to Help Stop a Lame Duck TPP Vote.”

Thanks to massive public opposition, there’s little chance that the job-killing, planet-destroying Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be voted on before the November election. As a result of millions of people like you speaking out, being pro-TPP has become a huge political liability for any elected official.

So what are the corporations behind the TPP trying to do? They want to schedule a TPP vote immediately after the election.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson is a former Senior Fellow for the Campaign for America's Future & Renew California.

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