When the going got tough, Barack got in a huff, and then he got gruff.
President Obama has worked himself into such a tizzy over the TPP that he’s lashing out at his progressive friends in Congress. He’s mad because they refuse to be stereotypical lemmings, following him over this political cliff called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It masquerades as a “free trade agreement,” but such savvy and feisty progressive senators as Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren have ripped off the mask, revealing that TPP is not free, not about trade, and not anything that the American people would ever agree to.
It is a stealth power grab, written in top-secret negotiations by and for multinational corporations from the U.S. and 11 other nations. This raw deal effectively empowers these profiteering corporate giants to overrule actions by the governments of any of these countries — including ours — that protect consumers, workers, the environment, and other interests from corporate abuse.
This gift to the Trans-Pacific titans is going to expand the rules of trade deals of the past such as NAFTA, WTO, and Korea FTA. A few examples of what we have to look forward to with this turd of a deal the president is trying to polish and force onto the American people are: more off-shoring of American jobs, which in turn leads to greater income inequality; higher costs for lifesaving and sustaining medicines; our environmental protections will be under threat of corporate attack; food and product safety regulations will be undermined; net neutrality will once again be challenged; Wall Street reform will be nothing but a memory; and say so long to Buy American initiatives.
Why an American president — especially a Democrat — would embrace this private usurpation of our people’s sovereignty is a mystery, but the great majority of congressional Democrats are not going along. So he’s been publicly scolding them (as though they’re disobedient children), huffily whining that they’re playing politics, “whupping on me,” and making up “stuff” about how this deal allows corporations to challenge and even change American laws.
Yet, rather than offer any evidence that they’re making up stuff, Obama gruffly made up stuff about them. By opposing the TPP, he prevaricated in a recent speech, the Democrats are anti-trade and want to “pull up the drawbridge and build a moat around ourselves.”
The president is on such thin ice with this ponderous giveaway to global corporate giants that his appeals for support have turned desperate, including this recent claim that TPP “is the most progressive trade deal in history.”
Wow, that’s a low bar! Does he mean more progressive than the thoroughly regressive NAFTA? Or maybe he’s comparing TPP to King George III’s East India Trading Company, which was such a bully that it sparked the American Revolution.
Indeed, Obama is doing some bullying of his own. He’s pushing the lie that such Democrats as Warren are lying when they point out that TPP would let foreign corporations sue the USA in corporate-run international tribunals to force our officials to weaken or kill laws that might pinch a corporation’s profits. “There is no chance, zero chance” of that happening, the president barked.
But, as he knows, it already has happened!
In April, under another trade agreement, his own administration was directed by a WTO tribunal to change — and essentially gut — a U.S. food-labeling law that dramatically reduced the killing of dolphins by commercial tuna-fishing fleets. Responding to public outrage over the mass slaughtering of the mammals, our Congress passed an effective dolphin-free law. But some tuna operations in Mexico complained that using dolphin-free nets hurt their profits, and the WTO ordered our sovereign nation to surrender our law to the dolphin-killing Mexican profiteers.
And just this past Monday, the WTO ordered the USofA to change its country-of-origin labeling laws, effectively saying our consumers do not have a right to know where the meat they eat is coming from.
By claiming that “no trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws,” Obama is either lying, or he doesn’t know what’s in his own agreement.
What a pathetic show of presidential petulance! It’s time for Obama to question himself — not his friends.
To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
AFP Photo/Jim Watson