Right Opinion

The TPP Will Destroy America's National Sovereignty

Arnold Ahlert · Jun. 9, 2015

Last week, during a radio interview, I was asked to describe the mood of the nation in one word. That’s a tall order, but the host of the show inadvertently provided me with the answer: powerless. And nothing contributes to that sense of powerlessness more than a Washington, DC-based ruling class seemingly determined to undermine our national sovereignty. That’s why members of both parties are foisting the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal on a beleaguered public.

I’d like to give you the details of the TPP, but a contemptuous Obama administration has decided to keep such information top secret. So secret that, even if you’re a member of Congress and want information, you have two choices: You can attend a classified briefing that requires you to leave your staff members and cell phone at the door, or you can amble down to the basement of Capitol Visitor Center for a read. Again, one’s cellphone must be surrendered. And only one section at a time is provided, with someone watching over you as you read. If you take any notes they must be surrendered prior to leaving. After you leave, you are forbidden to discuss any aspects of the bill in public.

On the other hand, here’s a list of 605 “cleared” corporate insiders who have been granted access for some period of the nearly 10 years negotiations on this pact have been taking place. Insiders who represent pharmaceutical companies, Hollywood studios, Wall Street, car and oil companies, and other corporate interests.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, currently holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, explains what some of those interests are — even as he reveals that only five of the 29 TPP chapters are about foreign trade. “The others are about regulating the internet, and what information internet service providers have to collect, they have to hand it over to companies under certain circumstances, the regulation of labor conditions, regulating the way you can favor local industry, regulating the hospital, health care system, privatization of hospitals, so essentially every aspect of a modern economy, even banking services are in the TPP,” he explains. And then, the capper. “So that is erecting and embedding new ultramodern neoliberal structure over U.S. law and the laws of other countries. And putting it in treaty form.”

In other words, the largest economic treaty in history, one including the 12 member states of Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand, Brunei and the United States — and representing more than 40 per cent of the world´s total GDP — sounds far more like a pact for global governance than global trade.

Prior to passing the TPP, Congress must first pass the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that would “fast track” the passage of the TPP. Fast track authority gives the president the power to negotiate international agreements that Congress may only vote for or against, not amend or filibuster. The Senate has already given the TPA a 62 to 37 thumbs up. It faces a less certain future in the House, where Democrats, not Republicans, are likely to represent the major stumbling block.

In short, despite Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution granting Congress, not the president, the power to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations,” it is mostly Republicans who are willing to roll over and cede more power to an already power-hungry president.

Former Congressman Allen West explains the implications. “If this goes through Obama will be able to sign commercial trade agreements before Congress votes on them, ” he writes. “Congress would not even be able to amend the agreements in any way — it would only have an up-or-down vote when the president says so, before members could even read it.”

Which bring us to another salient — and highly insulting point. As Breitbart News reports, failing to read the TPP is apparently no impediment for several high-profile Republicans like Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who didn’t bother to do so before voting in favor of the TPA. Ditto for GOP House members such as House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Rules Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) and and Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) who have been whipping votes for “Obamatrade” without knowing what’s in it. Apparently the utter fiasco of Democrats passing a mostly unread healthcare bill was an insufficient cautionary tale for equally duplicitous and contemptuous Republicans. Republicans who are once again making a complete mockery of the 2014 election that was all about stopping Obama’s “transformational” agenda, not abetting it.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), one of the few members of the ruling class who remembers that he represents the entire American public, rather than the well-connected few, wrote a letter to Obama asking for transparency “before Congress even contemplates fast-tracking its creation and pre-surrendering its power to apply the constitutional two-thirds treaty vote,” Sessions stated. “In effect, to adopt fast-track is to agree to remove the constitutional protections against the creation of global governance structures before those structures are even made public.” Sessions also wanted Obama to provide him with “the legal and constitutional basis for keeping this information from the public and explain why I cannot share the details of what I have read with the American people.”

That was the second letter Sessions sent to Obama. His first letter, sent May 6, was completely ignored.

Perhaps the most onerous part of the bill was revealed by the New York Times, which notes the chapter obtained by Wikileaks “would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment ‘expectations’ and hurt their business,” the paper reports. As the Times further explains, “companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.” Adding insult to injury, Assage explains what investment “expectations” are all about, as in “the loss in expected future profits. This is an expected future loss, this is not an actual loss that has been sustained, this is a claim about the future,” he reveals. According to Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, about 9,000 foreign-owned firms with operations in America would be empowered to bring cases against governments here.

Challenging American legislation, before one of two transnational tribunals, reeks of an unprecedented contempt for national sovereignty.

And not just contempt for American sovereignty. American workers as well, a reality best explained in two sentences by Curtis Ellis, executive director of the American Jobs Alliance. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership includes an entire chapter on immigration,” he reveals. “It is a Trojan horse for Obama’s immigration agenda.”

Ellis cites a document emanating from the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Under the heading “Temporary Entry” it notes the nations involved in the agreement “have substantially concluded the general provisions of the chapter, which are designed to promote transparency and efficiency in the processing of applications for temporary entry…” Ellis explains that such “‘21st-century trade agreements’ are written by the same corporate interests and negotiators, and all have the same goal: more visas for foreign workers. If TPP goes into effect, they will be beyond the reach of any future Congress.”

As if on cue, a New York Times report published last week revealed the truth of Ellis’s assertion, noting that 250 Disney workers were pink-slipped in October, replaced by foreign workers who they were required to train, prior to getting the axe. “I just couldn’t believe they could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly,” said one former worker, who remains unemployed since getting laid off in January. "It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it.“

Disney is not alone. Southern California Edison and Northeast Utilities laid off 540 technology workers and 350 tech workers, respectively, in the last two years, and are either replacing them with H1-B visa foreign workers, or hiring Indian outsourcing firms to provide replacements. The standard excuse for such an outrage is that there is an insufficient supply of skilled American workers to take their place. That narrative is an abject lie. Ronil Hira, a professor of public policy at Howard University explains what’s really going on. In testimony before Congress the professor explained that H-1B immigrants work for less pay than American tech workers, citing company savings of 25 percent to 49 percent in recent cases.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The Partnership for a New American Economy is another elitist-driven organization pushing for "comprehensive immigration reform” that includes a path to legal status for the millions of illegals currently residing in our nation, and an increase in the number of foreign visas. “Join America’s mayors and business leaders in making the case for sensible immigration reform as a way to boost economic growth and create jobs for Americans,” their website states.

Apparently the reality that a whopping 75 percent of all jobs created since December of 2007 have gone to foreign-born workers both legal and illegal, can be conspicuously ignored. Legal foreign workers willing to work for less than their American counterparts, and illegal foreign workers willing to work for virtually anything — which may go a long way towards explaining why wage growth over the past 8 years has been virtually non-existent.

Is it any wonder why Americans feel powerless?

It’s time for people on both sides of the ideological divide to fight back, because this is not a fight between left and right. This is a fight between those who believe in the exceptionalism of our nation and the sovereignty that engenders it, and those who view America as just another “market” like any other, one to be ruled by a cabal of transnational elitists with utter contempt for that exceptionalism, our workers and our Constitution. That they must effect their changes in complete secrecy should tell Americans everything they need to know about the TPP — and the despicable desires of those who support it.

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