Saturday, August 27, 2016

258.8 - TPP headed for lame-duck showdown

TPP headed for lame-duck showdown

I have talked a number of times about this proposed, massive, 12-nation trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP for short.

There's a great deal to dislike about it, from further empowering and entrenching transnational corporations to weak environmental and food safety rules, not to mention that, like NAFTA before it, it likely would cost the US hundreds of thousands of well-paying manufacturing jobs, replacing them with a roughly equal number of low-paying, benefit-poor, service jobs.

It's unpopular enough not only that Bernie Sanders was able to make it a centerpiece of his campaign to a degree that ultimately forced Hillary Clinton to come out in opposition to it but that grassroots Dems are making life difficult for the relatively small number of Congressional Dems who still try to defend it.

So why do I bring this up again, now?

Because Barack Obama is all-out for it, regarding it as a major part of his legacy. And so he has put Congress on notice that he will be sending lawmakers a bill to implement the agreement. The action establishes a 30-day minimum before the bill can be presented, but that's irrelevant because there is no way the White House is going to introduce it in the middle of a campaign where both major party candidates along with Jill Stein of the Green Party oppose it and few Dems will aggressively support it.

What this means instead is that he has in this way telegraphed his intention to try to jam the pact through Congress during the lame-duck session after the election, when political pressure from the public is at its lowest because it is the furthest point from an election and public attention will be distracted by the shiny penny of the transition to a new president.

Now, Clinton, the likely winner in the fall, has declared she is against the TPP and against voting on it both before the election and during the lame-duck session, and liberal and progressive groups are gearing up for a lame-duck fight. So there is a good chance, at least a decent chance, that a move to pass TPP then will fail, particularly since a good number of GOPpers in the House are pledged against it if only to block something just because Obama wants to pass it. A clear case of right thing, wrong reason.

But that doesn't mean the fight will be over, even then. There remain troubling questions about Hillary Clinton's true stand on TPP.

There was, for example, the statement back in January by Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue that once elected, Clinton would flip back to supporting the TPP.

More recently, there was the statement last month from Clinton bestie Terry McAuliffe that once in office, a few tweaks would enable Clinton to support the pact, a position also taken by some academic experts on international trade.

Her VP pick, Tim Kaine, is a "free trade" zealot who has been the Senate's most fanatical supporter of the TPP.

And most recently, she has picked former Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a big fan of both the TPP and fracking, to be the chair of her presidential transition team.

So gear up, folks, we are in this for the long haul. Even given Clinton every benefit of the doubt, even assuming the absolute sincerity of her current statements, the corporations and their allies, those with the inside track for access, will not stop pushing. Neither can we.

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