Don’t Be Fooled. TPP Is Still Very Much Alive. Help Kill It For Good

Dave Johnson

There are lots of stories in the media claiming that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead for now.

And why wouldn’t TPP be dead? Both presidential candidates say they are opposed to TPP. Various Congressional leaders have said that it is unlikely to come up. Nancy Pelosi has spoken out against it. Harry Reid says he opposes it. All labor and environmental organizations along with most consumer, health, human rights and other progressive-aligned groups oppose TPP. Six Republican members of Congress who voted for the “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) have sent a letter opposing TPP. Even the Tea Party opposes TPP, calling it “Obamatrade.” Under these circumstances, the very idea that it could come up for a vote at all, never mind that it might even pass, is an insult to democracy.

But here’s the thing: Wall Street wants TPP and the giant multinational corporations want TPP. And what Wall Street and giant multinational corporations want from Congress, Wall Street and giant multinational corporations usually get from Congress. It’s not like insulting democracy is a big no-no to that crowd. So did you really think TPP would just go away?

Does This Sound Like TPP Is Dead?

Monday, The Hill, President Obama optimistic Congress will pass TPP this year, (emphasis added, for emphasis)

President Obama said Monday that he remains optimistic Congress will pass an expansive Pacific Rim trade agreement before he leaves office amid anti-trade election year rhetoric from Democrats and Republicans.

… On Friday, deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters that the president is “acutely aware of the politics around this.”

“But that’s not going to stop him from getting this done,” Schultz said.

Schultz said that the president “absolutely believes this deal should pass this year.”

Monday, Washington Post, With time running out, Obama to make final push on Asia trade deal that Clinton opposes, (emphasis added, for emphasis)

Administration officials said Obama intends to reassure Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong during a White House meeting that Congress will ratify the TPP before the president leaves office in January.

… The White House is eyeing what is expected to be a brief lame-duck session of Congress after the Nov. 8 elections as the final window, and even then the politics will be fraught.

… Obama’s campaign for the TPP over the next few months, including making the case on a trip to Asia in September, will put him squarely at odds with Clinton.

Monday, Politico, TPP supporters counterattack, (emphasis added, for emphasis)

…[D]espite the boisterous politics and candidates’ dead-on-arrival declarations, business groups have launched a well-funded, national effort to lobby their way to TPP approval.

[. . .] For many, the current fury directed at the agreement only increases the incentive to get it approved before Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump becomes president and the agreement is either junked or put into a deep freeze for years. They are hoping the issue could make it onto the crowded legislative agenda during the lame-duck period after the election.

[. . .] Lobbying groups are quick to talk up all the ways they plan to connect with lawmakers, a seemingly endless to-do list of penning op-eds, attending town halls and flooding congressional offices with handwritten letters from company employees.

“From my experience, it always looks so bleak,” said John Michael Gonzalez, a Democratic lobbyist and strategist who works on trade. “But it always prevails. At the end of the day, our government and our elected officials move forward, not backwards.”

Monday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan received cheers and a standing ovation at a Koch Brothers fundraising retreat for a speech in which he “touted the importance of free trade”

Friday, Politico’s Morning Trade, (emphasis added, for emphasis)

Congressional Democrats who supported President Barack Obama on trade promotion authority aren’t running scared despite a hurricane of anti-TPP sentiment swirling in Philadelphia, said a House Democratic aide.

“Members that are inclined to be supportive aren’t going to move,” the aide said. “It’s not like they showed up in Philadelphia and said, ‘Holy crap, there’s a lot of people against TPP.’”

… But labor’s efforts to unseat those members in primary elections have fallen short and TPP opponents’ leverage seems to be diminishing going into the general, the aide said.

“We’re going to get past the election and there’s going to be a decision to move it very quickly if everything is lined up,” the aide said.

Summary: Everyone in the country could oppose TPP but what difference would that make if Wall Street and the giant corporations want it? The strategy is to “move it very quickly” after the election, before democracy and We the People can get in the way and meddle and interfere and regulate and the rest of the pesky things governments do. TPP is designed to push that crap out of the way so corporations can go about their business. All they need to do to get that is push those things out of the way long enough to pass it. Great.

We Can Win This

So no, TPP is not dead. Not at all. The effort to push sovereignty and democracy and self-government out of the way because it can interfere with corporate profits is still very much alive.

The bottom line is that we all need to stay aware, we need to stay organized and we need to understand that TPP isn’t dead until it’s actually dead. But we can win this. If we can keep TPP from coming up for a vote in the unaccountable lame-duck session of Congress that follows the election, it is unlikely to survive.

The key is to get House Democrats on record before the election as opposing TPP, and then getting them to lobby the 28 Democrats who supported the “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to oppose a vote after the election. These 28 are: Terri Sewell (AL-07); Susan Davis (CA-53); Sam Farr (CA-20); Jim Costa (CA-16); Ami Bera (CA-07); Scott Peters (CA-52); Jared Polis (CO-02); James Himes (CT-04); Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23); Mike Quigley (IL-05); John Delaney (MD-06); Brad Ashford (NE-02); Gregory Meeks (NY-05); Kathleen Rice (NY-04); Earl Blumenauer (OR-03); Kurt Schrader (OR-05); Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01); Jim Cooper (TN-05); Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15); Eddie Johnson (TX-30); Henry Cuellar (TX-28); Beto O’Rourke (TX-16); Gerald Connolly (VA-11); Donald Beyer (VA-08); Rick Larsen (WA-02); Suzan DelBene (WA-01); Derek Kilmer (WA-06); Ron Kind (WI-03).

Hillary Clinton could help kill TPP by demanding the President Obama withdraw TPP from any possibility of consideration in the “lame duck” session of Congress.

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