The progressive community in Rhode Island has been noting with increasing concern the secrecy surrounding negotiations for the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” or the TPP, a proposed new trade agreement with countries all over the world.
According to this Alternet article, the pact would be “so intrusive that it would even limit how governments can spend tax dollar” is near completion and likely to be passed without members of the U.S. Congress and Senate knowing what it contains?
It is a case of “truly unprecedented secrecy.”
Therefore, it was with great relief that we read Senator Elizabeth Warren’s letter to the prospective U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman, on the lack of transparency of those negotiations. At last, a legislator was courageous enough to bring this enormous elephant into the room of public discourse!
From leaked information over the last three years it has become clearer and clearer that, as it stands, TPP will be a giveaway to corporate interests on an unprecedented scale and will undermine any remaining power the federal government retains in regulating issues of labor and food/pharmaceutical/water safety as well as oversight of the financial industry. Senator Warren puts the situation succinctly:
“If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.”
We in the progressive community implore Rhode Island’s congressional delegation to take this matter seriously and join with Senator Warren in calling for transparency from the Obama administration on an issue that will profoundly affect the global economy for decades to come.
To: The Honorable Senators Reed & Whitehouse; Representatives Langevin & Cicilline
From: Constituents of Rhode Island
September 18, 2013:
We are writing about a matter vital to the interests of the work you are doing to bring jobs and prosperity back to the state of RI.
In June we outlined for you the danger we saw in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—the new “free trade” agreement. The negotiations for the TPP have been conducted for the last 3 years without congressional or public input or participation.
In that letter we referred to the extreme secrecy in which negotiations were being held; secrecy even from members of congress. We quoted Senator Elizabeth Warren in her open letter to prospective U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman,
“ If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States”
She wrote this letter after she and Alan Grayson asked to read the treaty. (Of the two, only Rep. Grayson was allowed to read it, because he agreed to sign a statement promising not to talk about what he had read. One wonders whether Sen. Warren’s letter was due to her refusal to sign such a promise)?
Today we are even more concerned because this week the Obama Administration is expecting the Congress to grant the President “Fast Track” authority on the TPP. As you are well aware, with fast tracking, the President, not Congress, would control the legislative process for the TPP. Study time would be severely limited and “Debate” would last a few hours. No amendments–only an up or down vote–would be allowed.
According to Lori Wallach of Tradewatch.org, trade officials have revealed that, as currently negotiated, the TPP would give foreign and multinational corporations wide and unprecedented power, (essentially nullifying the power of the U.S. congress), in any number of areas by filing claims against us before an international corporate tribunal, over any national or state regulations and laws they claim might infringe on profitability–attacking protections for the environment, employees, and consumers in areas such as food and water safety, access to medicines and human rights and internet freedom as well as financial ovewrsight. This should be totally unacceptable to you, as it is to us. TPP would ban buy American and completely reverse all of your recent hard work in bringing jobs home to RI.
All such international partnerships should be open to full debate, committee review, and public input. Therefore we strongly urge you to vote against fast tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well as voting against this so-called treaty that goes far beyond trade issues. Thank you.
Lisa Roseman Beade