The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the evil inevitability that nobody’s talking about. It’s the next big thing in the global economic stratification meltdown. It’s the heat-seeking dagger in the hand of multi-national corporate interests, aimed squarely at the heart of workers’ rights.
Unless, of course, it falls apart.
We have sounded the alarm about the secret trade talks the U.S. is engaging in to fast-track the TPP. Union presidents have spoken out against it. The workers of the world have spoken out against it. Elizabeth Warren has publicly bucked Obama over it. It really pisses people off.
But according to The New York Times this morning, the U.S. House of Representatives might actually have the wherewithal to upend this thing:
…the White House is now facing new hurdles closer to home, with nearly half of the members of the House signing letters or otherwise signaling their opposition to granting so-called fast-track authority that would make any agreement immune to a Senate filibuster and not subject to amendment. No major trade pact has been approved by Congress in recent decades without such authority.
Two new House letters with about 170 signatories in total — the latest and strongest iteration of long-simmering opposition to fast-track authority and to the trade deal more broadly — have been disclosed just a week before international negotiators are to meet in Salt Lake City for another round of talks.
“Some of us have opposed past trade deals and some have supported them, but when it comes to fast track, members of Congress from across the political spectrum are united,” said Representative Walter B. Jones Jr. of North Carolina, who circulated the Republican letter.
United in opposition? This truly is news.
“This could be the end of T.P.P.,” said Lori Wallach of Public Citizen, a watchdog group that has opposed the deal, formally called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “All these other countries are like, ‘Wait, you have no trade authority and nothing you’ve promised us means anything? Why would we give you our best deal?’ Why would you be making concessions to the emperor who has no clothes?”
The clothing metaphor is offered without irony, despite the fact that the plague of working for pennies an hour to stitch and sew would be exacerbated if the TPP came to pass. Luckily, the secrecy of the administration’s approach — the very thing it hoped would enable the deal — has begun to get under Congress’ skin.
Many members have had a longstanding opposition to certain elements of the deal, arguing it might hurt American workers and disadvantage some American businesses. Those concerns are diverse, including worries about food safety, intellectual property, privacy and the health of the domestic auto industry.
Others say that they are upset that the Obama administration has, in their view, kept Congress in the dark about the negotiations, by not allowing congressional aides to observe the negotiations and declining to make certain full texts available.
“We remain deeply troubled by the continued lack of adequate congressional consultation in many areas of the proposed pact that deeply implicate Congress’ constitutional and domestic policy authorities,” said the House Democrats’ letter, circulated by Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and George Miller of California.
Has the micro-media revolt against TPP had an impact? Can we say tangibly that caring about the future workers of the world has made a difference? I think we can.