Saturday, May 09, 2015

Obama campaigns for the TPP corporate deregulation treaty

Digby says of Obama's speech Friday in support of the corporate-deregulation TPP treaty, "It was the ugliest, most condescending speech he's ever given." (Sherrod Brown says "Just (Don't) Do It" Hullabaloo 05/09/2015)

The text of Obama's speech is here, Remarks by the President on Trade [at] Nike, Inc. [i]n Beaverton, Oregon White House Press Office 05/08/2015.

His rhetoric was stock "free trade" hype, jobs for everybody, small bitnesses really benefit, blah, blah, blah. Presenting this treaty as though it mainly has to do with "trade" is part of the marketing spin. The key function of the treaty, so far as we know the terms of its still-secret text, seems to be the establishment of business-controlled tribunals that have the authority to overturn national legislation on wages, pensions, working conditions, safety regulations, environmental laws and probably anything else some corporation decides it dislikes. And as a ratified treaty, TPP would be the law of the land on a level with the Constitution, and overruling previous legislation or Constitutional provisions.

Obama denies this: "critics warn that parts of this deal would undermine American regulation -- food safety, worker safety, even financial regulations. They’re making this stuff up. (Applause.) This is just not true. No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws. This agreement would make sure our companies aren’t discriminated against in other countries."

Then what are those tribunals for? He promises to post the text of the finalized TPP before its's approved. So it's hard for anyone not privy to the currently classified documents to say for sure he's wrong on this. But I don't believe him.

This is probably one of the lines Digby had in mind, "Some folks think we should just withdraw and not even try to engage in trade with these countries. I disagree."

Of course, even the most hardcore Bircher-style rightwing isolationists want to "engage in trade" with foreign countries, no matter how much they may hate those countries and their people. That is a frivolous and condescending claim.

And there's the usual boilerplate claims for the neoliberal deregulation treaties that we've heward since NAFTA, claims that somehow never seem to come to pass in any substantial way: "It’s got strong, enforceable provisions for workers, preventing things like child labor. It's got strong, enforceable provisions on the environment, helping us to do things that haven’t been done before, to prevent wildlife trafficking, or deforestation, or dealing with our oceans. And these are enforceable in the agreement."

Here's another sneer:

So the fact is, some folks are just opposed to trade deals out of principle, a reflexive principle. And what I tell them is, you know what, if you're opposed to these smart, progressive trade deals, then that means you must be satisfied with the status quo. And the status quo hasn’t been working for our workers. It hasn’t been working for our businesses. And there are people here who will tell you why.
And as he enters his closing portion, he repeats his warning against the nonexistent isolationists: "So, yes, we should be mindful of the past, but we can’t ignore the realities of the new economy. We can’t stand on the beaches and stop the global economy at our shores. We’ve got to harness it on our terms. This century is built for us."

Digby comments, "I take Obama supporters at their word that he has finally been freed to do what he really wanted to do. This appears to be one of the things he really wanted to do."

No comments: