TPP: Secretly Negotiated And Minimally Reported. Putting A Nice Wool Hood Over The Eyes Of Americans
It’s safe to say that when Hillary Clinton finally announced, recently, that she was not supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP as it is more routinely called, that that was the first time many Americans had ever heard of TPP. Why? Well, for one thing, the negotiations of this particular international trade pact have been held in near total secrecy. The other reason is that our nation’s weeknight news outlets have abdicated their responsibility, moral and otherwise, to inform the public about this agreement which will greatly impact their lives.
TPP has been best described as NAFTA on steroids. Or, as International President of The United Steelworkers says, “Foie Gras for Corporations; Dead Rats for Workers." It is a sweeping trade agreement between the U.S., Canada, and ten countries around the Pacific Ocean. Included are Mexico, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore.
Just what we need; another, even bigger, more far-reaching trade deal that assaults the well being of the American middle and working classes. Weren’t enough American jobs shipped overseas with deals like NAFTA and CAFTA? To American and Multi-National corporate CEOs and Wall Street lowlifes, the answer is no. Public be damned. American workers will be competing for jobs with workers from countries that have a minimum wage that starts at 25 cents. If there was ever a deal that would turn Americans into serfs, this is it.
Supporters of the TPP, including our corporatist centrist President Obama, say that the deal will create markets for products made by U.S. workers. After all of the years of union busting that American workers have endured, no mention is made by TPP supporters about what wages those American workers will be making. TPP supporters also say the deal will create American jobs. Again, no mention of what those jobs pay or even how secure they might be. Job creation was a big selling point to the American public when NAFTA was rammed down our throats by New Gingrich and Bill Clinton. Something similar has happened with the TPP. A Democratic president has enjoyed total support for a trade deal from the Republican Party.
We’ve heard it all before. The laughter we now hear is coming from Wall Street, President Obama’s banker Jamie Dimon, and the K Street Bribery Squads who provide TPP supporters in the House and Senate with endless “campaign contributions”. The polite term for those who deliver the checks to Congress is Lobbyist. We really need to call them what they are- Bagmen. Period.
Until Clinton made her announcement, she did everything she could to avoid saying whether she was for or against the TPP, usually disingenuously claiming that she needed to see it first. It should also be mentioned that both she and President Obama stated during the 2008 campaign that they would renegotiate NAFTA. Both Secretary of State Clinton and the President have failed to do so when they’ve had the chance. Clinton, in fact was a strong supporter of NAFTA. So, given these facts, why should we believe her this time?
Clinton eventually had to stop being cagey. She was feeling the pressure from the Democratic Party base and her current most serious challenger for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. He had already won over a lot of potential primary voters by stating, in no uncertain terms, that he was strongly against the TPP. He has been consistent about his feelings on the subject since word about the TPP first surfaced, long, long before he announced his candidacy for President. In comparison, Clinton made her announcement only after the party base reacted so negatively to the June Senate vote on fast track authority for the deal.
Interestingly, the corporate media doesn’t call Sanders’ supporters “the base”. Instead, they call his followers “the left”, almost as an aspersion. Coverage of Sanders has been reluctant and minimal. Clinton, a corporatist centrist is their horse in the race. They still refer to her as the presumptive choice, so, when she announced her position on TPP, it was news that was worthy of their attention.
Here’s Sen. Sanders eloquently stating his position over one and a half years ago on virtually the only show that would have him on to talk about something so vital to the futures of so many. If you read or view nothing else about the TPP, take a look at this clip:
Sen. Sanders has been making the same statements about TPP for a very long time. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had much face time on the weeknight news programs. The Ed Schultz show appearance was a rare event. Schultz, who is very pro-labor and pro-working Americans oriented, was virtually alone in giving Sanders a podium for his positions. Now that Schulz is gone from MSNBC, it doesn’t seem that anyone, on any major network channel, is stepping up to fill the void on any sort of regular basis like Schultz did, not even the Emmy-winning Chris Hayes and certainly not any of the corporate shills on CNN or the extremist un-American wackjobs and nihilists on FOX.
So, without meaningful corporate news coverage of a Sanders campaign that draws thousands to his appearances, and virtually no detailed coverage of the TPP, it should be no surprise that the first time many Americans heard anything about TPP came with the Clinton announcement. Even then, although the phrase Trans-Pacific Partnership was uttered, there was next to nothing mentioned about what it actually was and what it would mean for the vast majority of Americans. It’s just a new take on the old 1950s “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.” Well, at least back then, Americans could get a good-paying job at General Motors. Whole American cities revolved around those jobs. Sons and daughters went to college because of those jobs.
How bad has it been? Take a look at these two charts, provided by Media Matters that show Television news coverage of the TPP through January of this year. The first one represents the major network news program coverage. The second one represents the cable news outlets.
As you can see, only PBS and MSNBC (due to the now departed Ed Schultz) have ever been in this game. When charts are done for this year, I will expect to see only a marginal growth in coverage. The topic gets so little coverage that even the satirists have ignored it. A comedian’s audience has to know what something is before that comedian can squeeze laughter from it.
For CNN, the broadcast of last night’s Democratic debate probably radically expanded their audience’s exposure to TPP news. Thankfully, they hadn’t decided to run car commercials while Sen. Sanders spoke. Given the amount of coverage CNN has given to Sander’s campaign, it wouldn’t have shocked me if his microphone mysteriously conked out.
Why so little coverage of the TPP and the Sanders campaign? Do they consider the American people and the positions of Bernie Sanders a threat?
The CEOs that own the networks wouldn’t want to offend the CEOs that run the oil companies, car companies, and pharmaceutical companies that stand to gain hugely from the TPP and that buy so much advertising on their networks now, would they? Next time you watch MSNBC, CNN, or FOX, just count the number of BP commercials, the number of car commercials, and, last but certainly not the least, the ads for sleep aids, boner pills, and the like. Corporate America wants it viewers to get lots of sleep and plenty of sex. They certainly don’t want you thinking about how corporate America is screwing you.
Take a look at this chart, also provided by Media Matters, an organization that FOX’s Bill O’Reilly irrationally calls a "hate group." The TPP’s supporters tell us that TPP is a beautiful thing. The chart, on the other hand, shows that the U.S. ends up with a negative trade balance because of the TPP. Gee, that’s swell.