A left-right coalition to sink the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

TPP Leesburg Rally

While I often rail against conservatism and the obstructionism of the Republican-led Congress, ultimately I am a believer that politics is still the art of what’s possible. So now that we are beginning to see conservative voices emerge in opposition to the Obama administration’s quest to pass the TPP trade deal; I’m intrigued about the possibility of a coalition of groups from both the left and right getting together.

If “Obamatrade” catches on as a right-wing rallying cry against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a trade agreement covering the Pacific Rim economies of Australia, Japan, Malaysia, among others—it will probably have something to do with a sparsely attended press conference on Tuesday in the House Science Committee hearing room. That’s where the American Jobs Alliance and the United States Business and Industry Council —pro-business groups wary of trade’s impact on America’s national interests—joined with Tea Party Nation and the socially conservative Eagle Forum to rail against the TPP and President Obama’s support for “fast-tracking” the measure. The legislative procedure would prevent Congress from amending the agreement once it’s completed by international negotiators.Without fast-track, Congress is considered unlikely to approve the deal in its current form.

While the right side of the argument against the TPP trade deal harbors a lot anti-Obama sentiment and angst against other progressive causes, their other reasons for opposition to this trade deal can be similar to those on the liberal/progressive side of the ideological spectrum. One of those reasons would be ceding power to the executive branch over negotiating this trade agreement.

An Obama and ALEC alliance?

TPP Leesburg Rally

When Bill Clinton sought to pass NAFTA, he did it by ramming it down the throats of everyone who helped get him elected. His allies in labor and congressional Democrats were thrown aside as the president cozied up to the likes of Henry Kissinger and even an ailing Richard Nixon to ramp up support for the trade deal’s passage among Republicans.

Now another president may seek to walk in Clinton’s shoes and pass a trade deal that will be worse than NAFTA by walking all over his base.

John Nichols writing in The Nation. says:

In fact, if Obama decides to ramp up his advocacy for a free-trade strategy that progressive Americans tend to see as a threat to workers, farmers, the environment, human rights and democracy, he won’t be able to count on many traditional allies to stir up grassroots support in the states. That’s one of the reasons there remains considerable uncertainty about whether the president really will—in a speech that is expected to focus on income equality—spend substantial time talking up a trade agenda that has drawn broad opposition from House and Senate Democrats and so much of his base.

If the president does go all in for the TPP, he will find himself in strange company—with groups that promote policies that critics argue are responsible for the growing gap between a wealthy few and an increasingly impoverished many.

It just so happens that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It’s really sad that history will once again repeat itself if Senate Democrats aren’t able to railroad giving the White House “fast track” authority to screw American workers again.

Comparing trade agreements to the East India Company

By: Billie Greenwood - CC BY 2.0

This is such a fascinating comparison, the author of this essay compares trade agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA and the TPP to the old British East India Company.

Under NAFTA, TPP and TTIP, global corporations who are unhappy with some court decision — even one from our Supreme Court — can take that issue to a sympathetic corporate-dominated trade tribunal.

Consider an example from history: The East India Company administered a century of corporate rule in India during an earlier age of globalization. The East India Company ran its own courts under its own authority, for its own interests. This was great for British colonialists. Not so good for India.