June 28, 2015
Despite headlines two weeks ago proclaiming Democrats handed President Obama’s trade deal a humiliating defeat, GOP tinkering saved the Trade Promotion Authority or “fast-track” authority and its companion the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact sending the globalist legislation to President Obama for signature.
Included in the treaties being negotiated by President Obama’s team is the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). Thanks to Wikileaks, American’s are able to read portions of the contents of the highly secretive trade agreement that takes aim at American jobs and wages.
Under TiSA, foreign workers in the following fields; engineering, nursing, computer programming, veterinary medicine, management consulting, construction, waste disposal, hotel and restaurant work, transportation and recreation would be greatly expanded.
Alarmingly, according to unions and political opponents TiSA would facilitate the movement of unlimited numbers of skilled and unskilled workers into America. So what are the implications for middleclass Americans struggling to get by?
Home court advantage is a powerful factor in head-to-head battle, it provides a slight advantage most fans understand, while the visitor can win, the season-long hard work of the local team will benefit from family and friends. So what’s this have to do with the Trans Pacific trade Partnership (TPP)?
Everything. Say the city of Los Angeles announces it will raise the city’s minimum wage to $20 per hour in 2017; the city council just raised it to $15 per hour without much fanfare. Sounds good to the local workers, however, under TPP in 2017 the Vietnamese-owned nail salon chain “nails r us” is operating in LA’s city limits and under the new trade deal they file a lawsuit against the city under “investor protection” rules, alleging the city violated “investor profits” rules and will now seek damages for the obvious violation. It hardly seems fair that a foreign business will be able to sue the US over potential loss profits – under TPP it can.
In another bout of unfairness, American businesses will have to abide by the US law and pay its workers that $20 per hour, something that will drive its profits down. Is that fair?
Nonetheless, another snafu arises under TPP, the foreign “loss of profit” settlement must be negotiated through a “foreign” private arbitrator tribunal, and whatever resolution the foreign panel dispenses, the US taxpayer must pony up.
If that sounds like something straight out of the “Twilight Zone” you’d be incorrect, because that is the new reality that awaits American businesses and the US taxpayer. While the global free trade sounds like a great idea, only a few courageous politicians are speaking out against the secret trade deal that will put American’s on the hook for lawsuits and deals they never voted for. Plus, the settlement monies would come straight from the US Treasury, the same one that’s running an $18 trillion deficit.
In many cases, the case arbitrators are attorneys that specialize in international trade and will focus their attention solely on foreign governments, racking up fees on an hourly basis. The system will also allow foreigners to dispense monetary claims that offer taxpayers no recourse; the decision is final and non-appealable. This is where US sovereignty is thrown out the window in favor of globalization.
The law, as currently written, puts American businesses at a disadvantage because they must follow international laws under TPP as well as the higher worker protections and environmental standards already in place in America.
So why are groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers among hundreds of pro-trade business groups that spent millions on advertising to build support for TPP? Lower wages!
Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) also accompanied the trade legislation. Why? Because the massive trade agreement means US jobs will be lost and those workers would need to find new careers, and TAA would provide job-retraining programs at the expense of the US taxpayer. Even though unions vociferously supported this provision, lawmakers could not come together on the details, naively thinking the trade deal would stall as a whole. It didn’t and now displaced workers will join the growing unemployable rolls.
The companion bill, “Trade Promotion Authority” (TPA), knocks the US Constitution to its knees by transferring an Article I, Sec 8 power reserved to the Congress (“to regulate Commerce with foreign nations”) to the executive branch AND further, Article II, Sec. 2 enumerates the power to the Executive to make “treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate and by vote approving the treaties by two-thirds of the Senate.” These Constitutional reassignments of the enumerated powers of the Congress and President, respectively, without a Constitutional Amendment defeats the separations of powers between the three branches of government that was intended to ensure there would be no concentration of power in one branch of government.
But, TPA language transfers the power to regulate Commerce between foreign nations to the Executive instead of the Congress and allows passage of the treaties without the advice and consent of the Senate (no debate or amendments are allowed under TPA) or a two-thirds vote (TPA requires only a majority vote).
Furthermore, the failure of the Congress to pass the TAA bill creates a vacuum in the legislation for dealing with lost American jobs in various industries as reflected in the body of the TPA. Such sloppy draftsmanship and does not bode well for Americans and American workers.
Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) professes that he supports President Obama 95 percent of the time but not on TPP. What if lawmakers challenged the constitutionality of the TPA and its companions to the courts?
“Now (TPP) Fast Track says ‘Congress, we want you to take your constitutionally designated authority and give it to the president, so he can negotiate the deal and then after he does, then you can vote yes or no,’” Ellison told an audience of AFL-CIO Young Worker Summit. “The Constitution gave Congress the authority to negotiate and work on trade agreements because trade agreements affect local communities all across this country. It’s not constitutionally proper or right for us to give the authority to the executive, no matter who it is,” Ellison said.
Members of the opposite party agree with Ellison. Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) pointed out the secrecy behind the deal is a valid reason to question the legislation.
Massie said, “I’ve read the confidential TPP. What struck me most was the enormity of it. Two bound volumes that reference other bound volumes of trade agreements. My staff is not allowed to read the document, I’m not allowed to take notes from the room, and I can’t access an Internet browser in the room. How could I possibly understand the unintended consequences of this agreement over the next few decades?”
He also explained, “The implications of ceding our sovereignty to the World Trade Organization (WTO) via trade agreements became painfully obvious to me this week. Congress literally rewrote our food labeling laws to please the WTO. The WTO said we couldn’t require the country of origin to be on the labels for beef and pork. I voted against removing the labels but the WTO-directed legislation passed anyway.”
The congressman also highlighted that his constituents are calling his office by a 30 to 1 margin, opposing TPP/TPA.
Despite all the controversy, lawmakers quietly passed TPP/TPA legislation this week. In a White House statement President Obama said; “I applaud the Democrats and Republicans in Congress who came together to give the United States the chance to negotiate strong, high-standard agreements for free and fair trade that protect American workers and give our businesses the opportunity to compete. With bipartisan majorities, Congress also voted to expand vital support for thousands of American workers each year, and to bolster economic relations between sub-Saharan Africa and the United States. Of course, we still have more work to do on behalf of our workers, which is why I’ll continue to encourage Congress to pass robust trade enforcement legislation that will help us crack down on countries that break the rules. But this week’s votes represent a much-needed win for hardworking American families.”
“As President, I’ve spent the last six and half years fighting to grow our economy and strengthen our middle class, and that remains my top priority today. I believe we should make sure that the United States, and not countries like China, write the rules of our global economy. We should support more good jobs that pay good wages. We should level the playing field so that our workers have the chance to compete and win. That’s what this new legislation will help us do, and I look forward to signing these bipartisan bills into law as soon as they reach my desk.”
Nevertheless, if the government is fighting for American jobs, why is there a need for the TAA to retrain displaced America workers? Sadly, one job missing from the list of “at risk” jobs is – Member of Congress.
Read previous TPP “All roads lead to Beijing & Dems question Obama’s TPP trade deal”
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