Diary

Dear President Obama (TPP)

Dear President Obama,

I see in your final State of the Union you brought up the TPP again.  Now that New Zealand has made it public I’ve actually been able to take a look at it and I have a few questions I’d like to ask, as well as comments I’d like to share.

I am making this an open letter because I find that anything I submit on your website goes nowhere.  Perhaps here, others will see these questions and ask them as well.

 

First, you say that this bill will “counter a rising china”.  But how?

While we are cutting a deal with nations that border them, nothing stops those nations from also dealing with China.  In fact this deal would seem to make them even more attractive to China because they are now a back-door into the U.S.  Bill Clinton’s NAFTA did the same thing.

Under Clinton’s deal we agreed to accept products without tariffs if 68% of them were made in North America.  As a result many manufacturing companies such as Apple or in textiles moved 68% of their operations to Mexico, and the rest to China or elsewhere.  Bad deals like that are part of why China is rising.

Under your TPP the standard would go down to between 50 and 55%, and open it up to countries such as Malaysia where they employ slaves. Slaves!

You realize how wrong that is?  Right?

For China this is an excellent deal.  They keep their sovereignty intact, nothing is done to curb their currency manipulation, and we agree to lower our standards still further and ship more of our jobs to countries that border them.  Indeed, if they want, they could even set up shell companies there just to take advantage of the ISDS system and sue us to their heart’s content.

 

Second, about the Investor-State Dispute Resolution system.  As I read it, this deal would create an un-elected, nontransparent, multinational court that is not bound by our constitution, answers to no government, and is empowered to force us to compensate foreign companies for “lost expected profits.”  This court is also, it seems, empowered to add “obligations” under the “living document” clause, i.e. make new rules that we must follow without review or recourse.

You have claimed that this is safe; that we have never lost a case; and the ISDS court cannot change our laws.  But thus far we have only faced suits from a few countries such as Canada and Mexico, under this we will be forced to defend ourselves from companies based in 11 other nations who assumed they would make it big and didn’t.  Even if we win the cost of constantly defending ourselves would be high.  And, if we do lose, yes they cannot change our laws directly, but they can fine us an indefinite amount of money until we do.  What is the difference?

I know that you have promised to make a new government bureaucracy to help us navigate the multinational bureaucracy, I don’t see how more red tape is better.  Will we get a third bureaucracy to help us navigate the navigators?  What good is that?

And while we’re on the subject what exactly is wrong with wanting to buy American and support American farmers?

 

Third, buried within the document is a “Most Favored Nation” clause.  As I read it this says that any treaty we have with one of the TPP countries will, under your deal, immediately and irrevocably apply to the others.  That means that all the agreements we have with Canada or Japan now hold for Malaysia or Vietnam?

How would that even work?
What would the new rules be?
Have you even checked?

We can travel to Canada without a Visa and have rules, again Clinton’s NAFTA, that it easier for Canadians and Mexicans to come here.  Would that now be true for everyone in Brunei?

Every agreement we have negotiated with 11 nations is now on the table for immediate application.  Do we even know if those agreements are consistent, or is that something the ISDS court gets to decide?

 

 

On one level I get it.  You believe that this deal is good because it connects us with countries around China and because it will probably help your donors.  But how does it help us?

For China this is a net gain.  We lower our standards, reduce our sovereignty, and ship jobs off to be done by slaves.  They get more access to our markets, no limits on currency manipulation, and give up nothing in return.

As for regulations, while this will reduce some, it also creates a new multinational bureaucracy and an un-elected court that can make new rules as they see fit, rules that could be very, very, costly for us.

I am not a fan of excess regulations, and I am not a fan of many laws that the Federal Government has made.  But at least here I get a vote.  At least here they have to answer to the Constitution.  At least here I have some say.  At least here they are supposed to be laws by Americans, for Americans.  Not a multinational bureaucracy who could care less about the U.S. Constitution.

As I see it, this is a bad deal plain and simple.  It is worse even than Clinton’s NAFTA,