Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Best Thing I've Read So Far on TPA/TPP

It is important to note that right now Congress is debating Trade Promotion Authority (TPA - otherwise known as "fast track') and not the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. With that in mind, this article by Jerry Wyatt is the best thing I've read on that topic so far. Wyatt is writing in support of TPA while holding off judgement on TPP.

The case Wyatt makes for his support of TPA is that it is the same process that was used to give us the U.S. Constitution. The big argument Sen. Warren seems to have settled on in her opposition (in addition to her disagreement with the Investor State Dispute Settlement provision in TPP) is that the negotiations are currently secret. Wyatt points out that this is the same process adopted by the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
Each state and each region had its own interests to protect. These interests often conflicted, and negotiations became tense. Some delegates walked out. But negotiations went on...

We all know now that the Constitutional Convention was successful. But at the time, it was a long shot. The only way to discuss all options and successfully deal with conflicting interests was to keep all negotiations a secret. Every piece of the puzzle had to be considered in the context of the entire package. There simply was no way for the Convention to end successfully unless each conflicting interest was taken into account. The written Constitution emerging from the Convention had to balance all of these interests. Once that was done, then any subsequent amendments on behalf of any of these interests would undermine the entire negotiated outcome.

The process simply had to be done in secret. The Constitution had to be presented for ratification in its final form, with no subsequent amendments possible. If it had been anything less, we would not have had a United States Constitution.
Wyatt then makes the case for why the same kind of process is necessary for negotiations on TPP.
President Obama wants fast track authorization in order to proceed with the negotiations from a position of power – in order to receive the best possible set of concessions from nations with interests which conflict with our interests. The only way to know if he succeeds or not is to look at the final negotiated deal – and then judge it on its entire impact – not on some leaked, out-of-context pieces of the puzzle. After a final deal is reached, there will be an opportunity for public debate. Fast track authority doesn’t mean that Congress is going to support whatever deal is reached. It just means that politics won’t undermine a deal before it can be reached.
Finally, when it comes to TPP itself, I stand in total agreement with what Wyatt wrote.
I haven’t made up my mind whether to support TPP or not. I will decide when an agreement is finalized and not before. I tend to distrust deals which are based on some concept of “free trade” which I know only exists in theory. But I won’t make up my mind on any specific trade deal until I see the details – the final details, not a few leaked pieces of information. I will still have time to voice my concerns before Congress decides whether to ratify it or not.


  1. That Elizabeth Warren doesn't understand this is extremely troubling to me. That she doesn't care to understand it is even more troubling.

    Imagine if she had approached the President to be an asset to this issue instead of apparently playing out every fevered transgression she imagines for all the public to see (and apparently ignite the emoprogs). Imagine if she had taken her job as Senator seriously enough to try to get the best deal possible, and understand that this "trade" deal is about so much more than trade, but how we are positioned to thrive in the 21st century. Just imagine......

    And yet damage has been done. My husband listens to progressive radio, Elizabeth Warren and the others and will not accept that just because NAFTA was bad doesn't mean this deal will make all of the same mistakes with the same outcomes.

    Let's also contemplate that "saving American manufacturing jobs" requires a commitment and political will that does not exist in America today. The government would be supporting labor, looking to extend our markets, building our infrastructure, educating our children for a better next generation. Instead, are we to let China make the rules of trade and currency, thereby leaving America with no jobs to protect? The GOP is happy to send the wealth to the top and out of the country. Eliminating trade agreements entirely just lets some other country become the United States of the 21st century. That seems incredibly dumb to me.

    That Elizabeth Warren doesn't get this either is also deeply troubling. She has many talents, a truly progressive heart and an honest passion for working people. If she didn't have Presidential ambitions, then her childish tantrums of TPA and TPP are a mystery to me.

  2. Excellent essay, Nancy. Excellent comment, 57andfemale - thank you both.