Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Obama and His Flawed Trade Agreement...

Rational Nation USA
Purveyor of Truth

While this site is neither a Warren or Clinton advocate in any broad sense of the word it does acknowledge that it would serves us all well to listen to what they have to say with respect to the Obama trade deal. Trade deals should be structured and tiled so as to serve our nations best interests. There is probable reason to believe this one, like NAFTA fails to do so.

POLITICO - You need to tell me what’s wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago,” a frustrated President Barack Obama recently complained about criticisms of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). He’s right. The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That’s by design—anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I’ve actually read the TPP text provided to the government’s own advisors, and I’ve given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can’t share my criticisms with you.

I can tell you that Elizabeth Warren is right about her criticism of the trade deal. We should be very concerned about what's hidden in this trade deal—and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice.

So-called “cleared advisors” like me are prohibited from sharing publicly the criticisms we’ve lodged about specific proposals and approaches. The government has created a perfect Catch 22: The law prohibits us from talking about the specifics of what we’ve seen, allowing the president to criticize us for not being specific. Instead of simply admitting that he disagrees with me—and with many other cleared advisors—about the merits of the TPP, the president instead pretends that our specific, pointed criticisms don’t exist.

What I can tell you is that the administration is being unfair to those who are raising proper questions about the harms the TPP would do. To the administration, everyone who questions their approach is branded as a protectionist—or worse—dishonest. They broadly criticize organized labor, despite the fact that unions have been the primary force in America pushing for strong rules to promote opportunity and jobs. And they dismiss individuals like me who believe that, first and foremost, a trade agreement should promote the interests of domestic producers and their employees.

I’ve been deeply involved in trade policy for almost four decades. For 21 years, I worked for former Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt and handled all trade policy issues including “fast track,” the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization’s Uruguay Round, which is the largest trade agreement in history. I am also a consultant to various domestic producers and the United Steelworkers union, for whom I serve as a cleared advisor on two trade advisory committees. To top it off, I was a publicly acknowledged advisor to the Obama campaign in 2008.

Obama may no longer be listening to my advice, but Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren might as well be. Warren, of course, has been perhaps the deal’s most vocal critic, but even the more cautious Clinton has raised the right questions on what a good TPP would look like. Her spokesman, Nick Merrill, said: “She will be watching closely to see what is being done to crack down on currency manipulation, improve labor rights, protect the environment and health, promote transparency and open new opportunities for our small businesses to export overseas. As she warned in her book Hard Choices, we shouldn’t be giving special rights to corporations at the expense of workers and consumers.”

On this count, the current TPP doesn’t measure up. And nothing being considered by Congress right now would ensure that the TPP meets the goal of promoting domestic production and job creation.

The text of the TPP, like all trade deals, is a closely guarded secret. That fact makes a genuine public debate impossible and should make robust debate behind closed doors all the more essential. But the ability of TPP critics like me to point out the deal’s many failings is limited by the government’s surprising and unprecedented refusal to make revisions to the language in the TPP fully available to cleared advisors.

Bill Clinton didn’t operate like this. During the debate on NAFTA, as a cleared advisor for the Democratic leadership, I had a copy of the entire text in a safe next to my desk and regularly was briefed on the specifics of the negotiations, including counterproposals made by Mexico and Canada. During the TPP negotiations, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has never shared proposals being advanced by other TPP partners. Today’s consultations are, in many ways, much more restrictive than those under past administrations.

Given this advisors concerns. the highly elevated secrecy, and the concerns of Warren and Clinton it would do well to block any agreement until such time a considerable amount more is known about the details.


Via: Memeorandum


  1. I agree that NAFTA and the TPP are both bad. I wonder, however, if there will there be disagreement from any commenters? Perhaps from 2 regulars who are in love with the idea of free trade and would never say anything the least bit negative about sending our jobs to low wage countries. Surely nobody will accuse Les of racism for not wanting American jobs to go to "foreign devils"?

  2. "Foreign Devils?" LMAO.

    Actually with respect to free trade wadn't it Adam Smith that held for trade to be free it mustbe rregulated? At my age memory ain't what it used to be. But I guess I can look it up.

  3. Trade is good if you're trading for items manufactured in foreign countries by foreign corporations. But if you're trading with companies that used to be domestic but moved to another country due to lower foreign labor costs (labor offshoring), this is bad. Adam Smith opposed this kind of "trade". He said "England will suffer". Today labor offshoring is our primary form of trade... And the US has suffered.

  4. The American worker has already lost the war.


  5. This should be stopped alone for its massive increase in DMCA censorship, which makes matters less free:


    If anyone should be jailed, it is anyone who treats legislation as imprisonable secrets. Like with Pelosi and insisting we can only find out what is in a law after voting on it, ALL details should be a public matter at all stages during the process.

  6. Approving an unknown deal makes no logical,sense.

  7. dmarks: This should be stopped...

    Previously, when I pointed out that "the WTO is not accountable to the American people or to any other voters around the globe. It is a sprawling bureaucracy that wields an almost unbelievable amount of power that is completely unchecked by democratic processes" - dmarks indicated that he did not care. So why would he care about "DMCA censorship"?

    dmarks said, in rejecting my concerns regarding the WTO, that "free trade is the opposite of foolish, as it puts these personal economic decisions in the hands of those most qualified to make them".

    Obviously - based on past statements of dmarks and based on past disregard of dmarks for ANY other considerations (such as the USA handing over sovereignty to the WTO) - dmarks' current position must be due to foolishness. Unless he's retracting these past statements.

    dmarks: ALL details should be a public matter at all stages during the process.

    What is your proof that Nancy Pelosi would oppose this? Can you provide a link to a statement or a vote on legislation where she opposes this idea? NP never said (in regards to the ACA) that the public could only find out what was in the legislation after Congress voted it into law. What she was talking about was public sentiment that was negative switching to positive after the ACA went into effect (because then they would be subjected to its positive benefits).

  8. Irrelevant, largely-untrue grudge-match moans will not be returned in kind (as the blog host requires) nor replied to.

    1. Who are you taking to? You've made your unwavering support for free trade very clear in the past. Now you say you oppose this particular agreement. For a very good reason that I agree with. Yet I presented you with a very good reason to object in the past (USA handing over sovereignty to the WTO) and you stuck to your guns. I was simply wondering why. There was no "grudge matching" or "groans" contained in my comment. Anyway, since dmarks dodges the question, I will go with my original guess, which is that he did not want to disagree with Les. If I had made the same argument against the TPP (instead of Les) I have no doubt dmarks would have responded with his usual screed defending free trade (which has involved him calling me racist).

    2. Dervish, why must you always make things personal? It really does throw a wet blanket over dialog. At least that's how I see it.

      Your closing remark is only conjecture and therefore mostly irrelevant.

      dmarks can speak to your concerns if he wants. Personally it's difficult to imagine why he would.

    3. dmarks has been very consistent in his support for free trade in the past (no matter what). I thought I had an argument previously (US giving up sovereignty to the WTO) where I thought I might get SOME agreement from him, but no. Now he flips and opposes this deal. But why? I mean, if you're the kind of person who accepts any and all trade deals no matter what, why oppose this one? That is what I was asking. But dmarks says my honest question is "grudge matching" and he refuses to answer. So there was no "wet blanket", as he already indicated he has no intention of responding. Since he won't answer, all I can do is guess. A guess I stick with, BTW.

      The reference to "foreign devils" comes from him, BTW. I've seen him use it against Truth 101 (as well as myself) in a discussion on free trade wherein he claimed our arguments against it were racist (link).

    4. The crunching of old bones is starting to get louder here, I am afraid.

    5. And so I ask (quoting HRC), What, at this point difference does it make?

    6. I've been thinking, Dervish might want to visit FreeThinke of Who's Your Daddy, two sites where he could really attempt some heavy duty BONE CRUSHING. I'm sure he would be quite well received. ;-)

    7. RN: I've been thinking, Dervish might want to visit FreeThinke of Who's Your Daddy.


    8. Without reservation, I concur with Mr. Sanders on his "pass". RN, are you the only one who still dares to do the breast-stroke in that Olympic-sized cesspool?

    9. I still visit occasionally. As I have VERY thick skin, an IDGAS attitude with respect to the BS found there, have a strong breast stroke and can hold my breath for long periods of time, stirring the over abundance of the slimy cesspool substance found there helps keep me in form. ;-)

    10. The crunching of old bones is starting to get louder here, I am afraid.

      Indeed. Bringing up past statements does seem to frighten dmarks considerably. I think it's surprising this guy blogs at all, given how much someone bringing up a past comment of his scares him. Why not give up commenting on blogs if doing so is the source of so much terror?

  9. I've not heard a response to my "olive branch" comment I made directed at Mr. Sanders in a couple of places (which he surely has seen (toward more civil conversation with him). Without any response, I assume the 'same old same old", Les. Regardless, I kept my side of the agreement which I described to him, even without any response.

    1. I suspect you will not receive a response, but as I said in my response to Dervish (quoting HRC), What, at this point difference does it make?

      Dervish is a purist and it is simply what it is.

    2. I get it, dmarks does not like anyone pointing out inconsistencies between past and present statements. Although i've seen him say changing one's mind shows a person is able to evolve and thus a good thing. For some reason in this case it is not. Part of the extending of the olive branch might include the dropping of the "old bones" BS. I will not be holding my breath in regards to that, however. It is clearly a much loved deflection.

    3. I get it, dmarks does not like anyone pointing out inconsistencies between past and present statements.

      Conjecture on your part Dervish, pure simple conjecture as YOU pointlessly and unproductively continue to push the feud forward.

    4. If he changed his mind he could say so. Then there would be no need for conjecture. The "old bones" insult never made any sense to me at all. People should be willing to stand by past statements or say they have changed their mind. "Pushing feuds forward" simply has nothing to do with it.

      BTW, if Tea Parties are trying to stop fast track (and dmarks provided no evidence that they are), I suspect it's simply due to their desire to oppose Obama on everything. And possibly racism. I can see Tea Parties being afraid of foreign devils.

    5. You are Incorrigible Dervish. As has been said by someone I'm sure, eventually you'll just be ignored. Completely and by all

    6. Regardless, Les, his last comment had me chuckling

  10. Back on track now...

    "US fast-track trade bill clears key hurdle in Senate"

    Good for those liberal Dems and Tea Partiers for trying to stop this.

  11. Yes, pure "conjecture". You are entirely correct, Les.

  12. In regards to the DMCA censorship, which dmarks referenced in his original objection to the TPP... do a lot of illegal downloading, dmarks? I'm not passing judgment - if that's your thing I really don't care. Would removal of this provision move you closer toward being in favor of the agreement?

  13. If a question is asked with reasonable courtesy, I will answer. If it is actually courtesy... especially from someone with a reputation of courtesy.

    Copyright infringement should be a matter of civil law, not criminal courts. Already Homeland Security have been abused to go after unauthorized duplication


    But that is an aside, One particular aspect of TPP which is obnoxious is the copyright extension provision

    As for TPP in its entirety, I know little of the details. And that is a major part of the problem: the secrecy. If the poison pills were removed, and matters were made public, I would look at the rest of it.

  14. NAFTA and the WTO NWO were and are dangerous as well. Yet dmarks did not seem at all concerned.

    WTO NWO = worship the oligarch's new world order... although officially WTO stands for "world trade organization". But some people worship that deal (NAFTA GAT WTO) while objecting to this one. Which I find very strange.


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