Have you been wondering why progressives have been up in arms about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)? In case you haven’t seen, the Sanders and Clinton camps split on whether or not Congress should vote on supporting the TPP. They split on an amendment by Jim Hightower denouncing the TPP “and says Democrats will oppose giving it a vote — even in a lame-duck session of Congress before the next president is sworn in” CNN reports. What gives?
As this letter signed by over 450 community, environmental, and landowner rights organizations say, “No previous trade deal has given such broad rights to corporations with such broad interests in maintaining U.S. fossil fuel dependency” to the effect that it will undermine “healthy communities, clean air and water, Indigenous peoples, property rights, and a stable climate.” But how?
It puts corporate lawyers—not judges—in charge of deciding disputes for allegedly lost profits. If there’s a local ban on fracking, a fracking company can take the government into an investor-state dispute settlement to get money from the gas they can’t get. Coal companies could make similar claims from public lands where moratoria on mining has been put in place. Or offshore drilling. BP, Shell, Total, BHP Billiton, Anglo American, RWE, Eni, and Rio Tinto would all gain the ability for their apparatchiks to legally claim that coal, gas, or oil was theirs before they got there.
If this sounds like manifest destiny that’s because it is. If this “partnership” sounds self-serving that’s because it is. If this deal looks like an even more wicked hook for corporate globalization that’s because it is. If it looks like this is some deal made by people who just know better than you and me and we should just trust them, that’s because it has been just such a deal.
As Crooks and Liars has said, “If the Democratic National Committee does not put TPP opposition into the platform it will lead to a public, televised convention floor fight.” Some party leaders are apparently kvetching that if the party opposes the TPP that it will put us in opposition to President Obama. Fair enough. But is that a good reason to throw out a bad deal?
At the end of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Dumbledore says, “There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” What matters more? Loyalty and fealty to President Obama or commitment to the common good? I know how I answer that question.
If it comes to a floor fight at the convention about this, I’ll be standing with my friends who fight for community.