Tuesday, February 02, 2016

TPP "Trade" Agreement to be Signed This Week in New Zealand


by Gaius Publius

I had meant to mine the terrific New York Review of Books article, "The Clinton System," for the next few days since it's so rich in detail. For example (my emphasis):
[D]irect payments to Hillary Clinton’s political campaigns, including for the Senate in 2000 and for the presidency in 2008 and now in 2016 ... had reached a total of $712.4 million as of September 30, 2015, the most recent figures compiled by Open Secrets. Four of the top five sources of these funds are major banks: Citigroup Inc, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Morgan Stanley....
Seven hundred million dollars donated to one politician who only started campaigning in 2000 is one heck of a lot of money. Prior to this cycle, she's been before the voters just three times, one of which (the 2006 Senate race) was a no-contest blowout. Again, that's just the tip of the iceberg; the rest of the article is similarly loaded.

But let's look at TPP, since it's due to be signed this week in New Zealand.
TPP Countries to Sign Trade Pact in New Zealand Feb. 4

The 12 nations party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will formally sign the agreement on Feb. 4 in New Zealand.

Andres Rebolledo, director general of Chile's General International Economic Relations Bureau (DIRECON), confirmed the Feb. 4 date in a meeting yesterday with the country's National Human Rights Institute to discuss how the agreement would affect human rights issues in Chile. ...

The signing will come four months after the 12 countries in the TPP concluded negotiations in the U.S. on Oct. 5. The 12 countries include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam (193 ITD, 10/6/15).

“The signing will be a celebration, but the critical work comes after with the ratification process in national parliaments,” Gary Hufbauer, of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told Bloomberg BNA in a telephone interview.
Signed but not ratified or confirmed. As we learned recently, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tom Donohue thinks the vote will take place after the election — because it can't pass otherwise — and also thinks that if Hillary Clinton is president, she'll support it.

Which suggests a number of questions. First, is Donohue right? Does he know some insider something we don't know? We know where candidate Bernie Sanders stands for sure. Sanders has always opposed these "trade" deals. From a January 28 campaign press release (my emphasis):
Sanders is leading the opposition in Congress to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would be the biggest trade pact in history. He also was at the forefront in earlier battles against the North American Free Trade Agreement and permanent normal trade relations with China — trade agreements that Secretary Clinton supported which have led to the loss of more than 30,000 good-paying jobs in Iowa. “Can you be a great country when everything we buy is made in China?” he asked the union workers.
I'm not the only one now wondering if Tom Donohue knows something. From that same press release:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue told Bloomberg News he expects Clinton to support a 12-nation trade agreement, a deal she praised before recently signaling concerns.

Clinton had praised past trade agreements and once called the Pacific trade deal “the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.”

On October 8, however, she said that “as of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it. I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set.” She hasn’t talked about it since then.
And we know from this anti-TPP petition that a number of Clinton-supporting congresspeople are opposed to TPP:
This petition is sponsored by DeFazio for Congress, Huffman for Congress, Sean Patrick Maloney For Congress, Nolan For Congress Volunteer Committee, Pingree For Congress, Pocan for Congress, Louise Slaughter Re-election Committee and Paul Tonko for Congress.
Only Peter DeFazio and Mark Pocan are not listed here as endorsing Ms. Clinton.

So will Ms. Clinton reassure her supporters (above) and the voting public that she still stands where her most recent statements put her? It could be awkward for these congresspeople if supporting her actually undermines their campaign against it. After all, this is not a winning argument: "I hate TPP and urge you to support Hillary Clinton, who might actually approve it after all."

This is an important question, the one about Hillary Clinton and TPP. NAFTA, GATT and the WTO have devastated the fortunes of a generation of Americans, all to line the pockets of the wealthy, many of whom, I'm sad to say, have contributed over $700 million to finance her political career, as noted above.

It's also an appropriate question, especially since it was the Chamber of Commerce that brought it up in the first place. TPP is finally due to be signed, and the clock on the fortunes of the next generation of Americans is ticking. Ms. Clinton — please clarify.

(Updated to add Mark Pocan as not endorsing Clinton.)


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At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that at least one - and probably another one I can think of - Congressperson on your list who only endorsed Clinton after considerable arm-twisting. I sincerely doubt any promises were made to them about opposing TPP. As to Donahue's inside knowledge, how would you bet your life or your childrens' lives as to whether or not President Clinton will sign TPP? Right - you'd go with "she'll sign it" and feel pretty safe, wouldn't you? I don't think an explicit promise was necessary. Of course she'll sign it after we get our "three minutes of democracy," and make those Congresscritters look like damned fools. Nothing out of character there.

At 7:05 PM, Blogger William H Duncan said...

I have been under the assumption that TPP would pass in the Spring, in the midst of a deflationary economy...but that might make Bernie more electable, so unless Hillary locks it up soon, that vote will be put off...unless they past it under the cover of the darkness of some new war or hideous event...

At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't see Pocan on that list as a Clinton supporter. Might want to check it again...

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Gaius Publius said...

Thanks, Anon, for the Mark Pocan catch. I made the change.


At 10:45 AM, Blogger Om Ali said...

“as of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it. I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set.”

Of course, I will soon learn more, which will convince me that it will meet that high, yet undefined bar.

As of today. I don't believe. Weaselly words. Very weaselly, indeed.

At 4:21 PM, Blogger Avedon said...

And I won't believe anything she says anymore than I believed Obama's campaign promises once he promised to vote against the FISA bill. And voted for it instead.


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