Bad for Democracy
It's very beginnings were bad for democracy and democratic processes. In began in with secret negotiations. The negotiations involved 600 mostly-corporate lobbyists meeting in secret away from the public's view for 7 years. While there were a few representatives from environmental and labor groups, their participation was very restricted.
For much of those seven years, even our Representatives and Senators could not view the text; then when they were allowed, they were sworn to secrecy, unable to communicate with the public what they learned about the agreement.
Finally, President Obama asked Congress for Fast Track Authority. This undemocratic process was approved; the approval vote included just 13 Democrats. One of those was Rep. Earl Blumenauer. Fast Track Authority authorized the President to negotiate the agreement (of course, he had already been negotiating it for years and was almost done by that point); set out a time line for approval. That approval process requires the President to sign the agreement prior to its presentation to Congress (turning the typical process on its head - usually Congress approval legislation first and then the President signs it). Then the President holds the agreement in his pocket until he has wrested up enough support in Congress to pass it, and then presents it to Congress. Congress then has limited amount of time to debate, consider it and then vote on it (limited to 90 legislative days total). By the end of that time, both chambers of Congress must either vote Yes or vote No. Congress is not allowed to amend the agreement, unlike any other piece of legislation.
ISDS (Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement) process
Beginning is NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), all agreements signed by the United States have included ISDS clauses. The only exception was the agreement signed with Australia. Australia refused to sign an agreement which included the provision.
ISDS allows multi-national corporations to bring suit directly against host nations for change in the nation's laws/regulations which the corporation feels will decrease their future profits. Two recent suits will illustrate the dangers to democratic decision making represented by ISDS.
First, early this year, President Obama finally made the decision to not allow the construction of the XL Keystone Pipeline, which would have moved tar-sands oil from Canada to the US gulf states for refining and most export. Trans Canada sued the US for $15 billion because that is the sum they thought they could have made had the pipeline been built. This suit was a NAFTA suit.
Second, about a year ago Eli Lilly, an American company, sued Canada because the Canadian courts ruled that because Eli Lilly had not proven that two durgs for which they had applied for patents could not be issued patents because the company had not proven, as required by law, that the drugs actually did what the patents claimed. Eli Lilly sued for $500 million. This suit was brought under NAFTA.
What others are saying about the TPP
Stop Subsidizing Climate Change
Trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership don't cut off huge subsidies for oil and gas companies.
~US News and World Report
Op-ed: TransCanada lawsuit highlights need to scuttle TPP
07/16/16 09:13 AM
By Jeffrey D. Sachs, Brooke Güven and Lisa Sachs
"TransCanada is claiming damages for lost profits as if it had a right to proceed with the project in the first place — even though these profits would have come from an environmentally damaging project that the government had every reason to deny. Yet the ISDS process is so misguided and poorly conceived that TransCanada might well have a strong legal case under ISDS despite having no policy or ethical case."
Why pursue the TPP When We Know If Will Not Work? May 23, 2016, Congress Blog
"Will this 12-nation agreement really help U.S. manufacturers boost exports and serve millions of new customers? Unfortunately, the anwers is a very quiet "No". Good-paying jobs in "manufacturing, natural resources, and energy" (MNRE) are actually projected to fall by 0.2%."
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