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Obama transparency missing from trade agreement secret negotiations

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It is clear, from leaked documents that America, American corporations and select multinational conglomerates would benefit greatly from passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. The restrictive copyright and internet privacy rights (or actually the lack thereof) are being argued against by such countries as Chile, Canada and New Zealand. Prescription drug rules would practically bereft the agreeing countries of generic drug options. And according to artist Kazuhiko Hachiya “cosplay could also fall under the TPP, and such an agreement could give law enforcement officials broad interpretive authority in dictating how people could dress up.”

It is also clear why the current administration is determined to push these treaty negotiations in secret and through Congress. Because if they knew, most Americans would be outraged. Another reason the Obama administration wants to get “fast tracking” reinstated.

Despite the fact that the NY Times PolitiFact meter rated a Chinese email making claims of the harmful reinstatement of “fast tracking” being pursued by the Obama Administration as false, it did so in a manner that would cause serious consternation with anyone interested in maintaining our Constitutional rights. And it did so without addressing the administrations request for “fast tracking” renewal in the first place. It concentrated, instead, on the errors of the manner in which fast tracking would take place.

The email stated it would not go to committee and would not be debated. PolitiFact offered up that the agreement would go to committees and have 45 in-session days to report on the amendment. If it fails to do so, it would go for a vote. Once on the floor, it would then be debated . . . for 20 hours – 10 hours in favor and 10 hours by those opposed. No amendments, no changes. A simple pass or fail. And it would only need a 50 percent plus one vote, instead of a 60% super majority.

What the Times fails to comprehend when they dismiss the email as false – “While these rules do curb lawmakers’ ability to shape the agreement’s terms, the email is simply wrong to claim that legislation stemming from a trade agreement "won't receive a committee assignment" and that the agreement will have "no debate" – is that “fast track” severely hampers the ability of our elected officials to adequately represent us. The “us” of course, being the American public and not the special interests and corporations.

In their closing remarks, condemning the email as false, the Times states that “the process does in fact include committee consideration and floor debate.” The boat sails when they fail to realize that those 45 days in committee and 20 hours of floor debate are a go or no go, without rights to discuss changes and that it does not need the two thirds vote that “treaties” do because it is a trade agreement and not a treaty.

The Times says that “fretting about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership could be passed under the fast-track process is putting the cart before the horse.” Except that now is exactly the time to be fretting. Now is the time for Americans to demand to be “let into the loop” of these “secret” negotiations from an administration that touted transparency as its promise. Now is the time to let their elected officials know not to allow any fast tracking renewals for an administration that has already shown its ability to misuse Presidential powers and overstep legislative ones.

Dozens of various activist groups are becoming aware of and outraged over TPP.

The Delaware Valley Riverkeeper Network wrote in an email recently that “if this trade agreement is passed, it could mean the undermining and unraveling of our nation’s environmental protection laws including federal, state, local and interstate compact laws.” The nature activist group is non-profit organization established in 1998 to protect the Delaware River Watershed through education, advocacy and legal intervention.

Jon Talton of the Seattle Times said it best in a November 30 article.

“One doesn’t have to accept the most extreme criticisms of TPP to be concerned,” Talton wrote. “The devil is in the details, because big companies have been using patents as a sledgehammer to protect profits, perpetuate monopolies and tamp down competition.” Talton went on to say that TPP doesn’t deserve fast track. That it is a “far-reaching agreement” which “needs to be vetted by our elected representatives to ensure balance between big corporations and consumers.”

Talton predicted a tough row to hoe for the Obama Administration since it is currently “overwhelmed by the teething pains of the Affordable Care Act.”

The TPP agreement has far reaching consequences in the areas of human rights, intellectual property, privacy, due process, corporate free reign, and many other basic freedoms. Its secrecy should be a problem for any rational human being, and demands for transparency by all parties concerned are a must.

Charles B Reynolds has been a contributor on Examiner since 2007, covering topics from politics to music to art and culture. He is also a contributor to Yahoo on line and the Pike County Courier in print. He is a published author in fiction and non-fiction. * Disclaimer – The author received no monetary or other gains from any sources mentioned in this article, nor from any agencies or organizations associated with the Trans-Pacific Partnership nor their opponents.

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