Hey Mr. President...Transparency Applies To the TPP too!

Transparency belongs in all parts of a democracy.

This morning, President Obama announced that back in January we accidentally killed two hostages, including one American a U.S with a drone during a counterterrorism operation targeting Al Qaeda operatives in a compound along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border .

The hostages, American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto, were apparently in the compound when it was hit by the drone strike.

Officials are saying that they had no idea Weinstein and Lo Porto were in the compound at the time of the attack.

The strike also killed two American-born Al Qaeda operatives, Adam Gadahn and Ahmed Farouq.

Speaking about the tragic deaths of Weinstein and Lo Porto, President Obama said that, “As president and as Commander-in-Chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovanni.”

The president then talked about why the government had chosen to make the operation and its tragic results public.

He said that, “As soon as we determined the cause of their deaths, I directed that the existence of this operation be declassified and disclosed publicly. I did so because the Weinstein and Lo Porto families deserved to know the truth. And I did so because, even as certain aspects of our national security efforts have to remain secret in order to succeed, the United States is a democracy, committed to openness in good times and in bad.”

President Obama is absolutely right. The United States is a democracy, and transparency is an absolutely necessary prerequisite for a democracy to properly function.

But when it comes to transparency you can’t play pick and choose.

You can’t be transparent about a counterterrorism operation that went horribly wrong, but then be incredibly secretive about something like…the TPP.

Earlier this week, President Obama was interviewed by Chris Matthews. One of the major topics of that discussion was the TPP,

In his interview with Matthews, President Obama continued to tout the TPP, saying that he wouldn't promote something that would hurt our economy and hurt working-class Americans.

President Obama also called out TPP opponents like Senator Elizabeth Warren, saying that she and others are wrong about the facts of the deal.

But here's the problem. It’s hard to know who’s right or wrong about the facts of the TPP because it’s been negotiated largely in secret behind closed doors.

Any information we do have about it is from leaks, and there is still a great deal we don’t know about the agreement.

In a statement on her website, Senator Elizabeth Warren responded to the president, saying that, “The government doesn't want you to read this massive new trade agreement. It’s top secret. Why? Here’s the real answer people have given me: 'We can’t make this deal public because if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it.’”

Warren went on to say that, “If the American people would be opposed to a trade agreement if they saw it, then that agreement should not become the law of the United States.”

So, what do we know about the TPP?

Well, according to Public Citizen, we know that the TPP could ship millions of good-paying American jobs overseas.

We know that the TPP could increase the costs of healthcare and medicine, while hurting health and safety standards.

And we know that the TPP could make corporations even stronger and undo what few reforms are left on Wall Street.

And we know that the Republicans, Wall Street, and lots of transnational corporations are salivating at getting this Southern Hemisphere Asian Free Trade Agreement - SHAFTA - also known as the TPP - to get it passed.

Maybe President Obama is right. Maybe unlike every other so-called free trade we’ve signed on to, the TPP will actually help working-class Americans and help our economy get back on track.

But, we can’t possibly know that without seeing the full agreement in writing, and without giving Congress the right to debate and amend it.

That's why I've let me elected officials know that I'm strongly opposed to the "Fast Track" bill that's current before Congress, that would take away from Congress the power to debate or amend this trade agreement. As citizens of a free country, we deserve transparency and debate. It's that simple.


TarryFaster 9 years 9 weeks ago

Note: If you should decide to read any further, I'd like you to know that you will be reading a fantasy. Since our fascists overlords will never allow any proposal that I'm about to put forward to become law, all of what I'm about to relate is just a pipe dream:

How about having a FIT instead of a TPP?


liz banker 9 years 9 weeks ago

Thom, did you see today MSNC broadcast of The Ed Show (4/23/2015)….. Ed was interviewing Senator Bernie Sanders, interrupted the Senator to bring live coverage of the President’s continued remarks on the TPP, including the President subtle dig on Ed Schultz….however, Ed Schultz loudly responded…basically telling the President, that he, Obama, is throwing Middle Class America under the bus, considering they worked very hard and long to get him (the President) into office in 2008/re-elected in 2012. "Shame on you, Mr. President" is what Ed should have also said unequivocally.

If the TPP is so beneficial for America, why did it take Wiki Leaks to reveal segments of the proposal; why was Congress not allowed to discuss or even read the Agreement before voting on it until recently; and now, the public is left to second guess what's in the technical language; why was the so-called Agreement created in a cloak of secrecy and why no amendments allowed; why only an Up or Down vote by Congress; if most Republicans are in favor with the President, Democrats not so much - what does that tell you in itself; isn't the TPP really a Treaty and not just an business agreement among a few nations?

The real truth – Senator Warren is correct, the POTUS wrong.

ginico55's picture
ginico55 9 years 9 weeks ago

I heard that the Pharmaceutical Industry has something in this contract that will allow them to raise prices all across the planet, not sure what it is, but has anyone heard or read of this?

w1ders's picture
w1ders 9 years 9 weeks ago

If the TPP passes Americans need to answer a call. A call to stand up for freedom and what used to be the American way. Our loss began with Ronnie RayGun and is at fast wrecking speed today. Too many have lost and will not regain hope. We are living a sad day in America and our grandchildren know no different. Doesn't say much does it?

Johnnie Dorman's picture
Johnnie Dorman 9 years 9 weeks ago

I've been watching our country and its people being sold out ever since Reagan and the mess that he and his Neo-con brothren cursed the middle class and the poor with, just watching things get worse and worse as the Rethug plan of doing away with the middle class kept coming together. First, they removed our union protections, then all the regulations that kept them in line. If we can't see what they are doing within our government, we don't have any power whatsoever. The power of big money is a threat to our freedom. I see the Rethugs as nothing but in service to the rich and powerful. They are no longer a party of the people and by the people.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 9 weeks ago

"Republicans, Wall street, and many Transnational Corporations are all salivating at getting TTP passed." That answers all my questions!

Do the wealthy elite and powerful really need more wealth and power?

The average hourly wage of Cambodian garment workers is 33 cents, Bangladeshi workers .....22 cents, Vietnam workers.... 37 cents, Indonesia workers.... 43 cents!!!! Post TTP average hourly wage of a United States worker????

One thing is certain, the TTP will cause accelerated concentration of wealth, and with this, accelerated spread of poverty worldwide.

Karen Roo's picture
Karen Roo 9 years 9 weeks ago

Years ago, when the establishment of NAFTA was being debated, I supported the legislation, believing that trade, especially with Mexico, would allow us as a wealthy U.S. economy to create a more level playing field: The anticipated increase in the Mexican standard of living would benefit the people of that nation without significant economic/social pain to those of us in the U.S. We could "share our wealth" and the economic inequality between Mexico and the U.S. would be lessened. We could all enjoy a decent standard of living. Ditto Canada.

How naive I was to think that the actual provisions of NAFTA would ever result in my idealized expectations!

Today, we American progressives rightly decry the outrageous inequality of income and opportunity within our own society. And still I continue to imagine what our world would be like if the U.S. (and other established economies) were not so very wealthy as compared with nations where workers earn 20 or 30 cents an hour. A significant rise in the global standard of living could be achieved, it would seem, without destroying our own well-being. (Note: because the security of our own 99% has already been substantially eroded, the logic of this argument becomes somewhat hazy, but I hope my general point is clear.)

My question: what would a trade agreement -- one that was truly fair to all stakeholders -- look like?

It would, of course, give much more interest to the workers of the various nations -- at the expense of the rule of the corporate elite. Sustainability of the environment would be foundational. And there are so many other considerations that a progressive group-think could put forward.

Perhaps my musing is just a pipe dream, but if we want to counter TPP (whether in the short term -- perhaps unreasonable at this point -- or over the long haul) we need to advocate for healthy trade rather than merely insist that TPP is not the answer.

Clearly, TPP needs to be stopped. Now. But if we are able to accomplish that much, what comes next? How do we craft a trade agreement that benefits the people of America while helping to grow markets and production in other nations that will allow people there to share a decent standard of living?

Ideas welcome. Ideas sorely needed.

RLTOWNSLEY's picture
RLTOWNSLEY 9 years 9 weeks ago

All the American People need to know about international trade agreements like NAFTA and the proposed TPP is that specific rights and privileges written into these agreements are afforded to all foreign signatories, rights and privileges that take precedence over existing U.S. laws ! We've seen the results of this over the past twenty one years as private U.S. business interests have piggy backed on various foreign business interests that have won an array of public and private contracts in this country, foreign business interests that were given the ability to skirt around various existing U.S. Laws by provisions written into NAFTA ! As far as we can tell from the limited access to the evolving terms and intent of the TPP, limited access that even members of Congress have experienced, this ability to skirt U.S. Laws has been expanded to infinity in the TPP ! Our legal system essentially replaced by a Star Chamber made up of three corporate attorneys that have the power to ignore the U.S. legal system and pass down judgments, based on the terms of past, present, and future trade agreements, and issue monetary awards that can amount to millions of U.S. Taxpayer Dollars to foreign business interests when and if their ability to turn a profit is impeded by an existing U.S. Law !

gordal's picture
gordal 9 years 8 weeks ago

Mr. Townsley's comment is very good. Even local environmental laws can be considered to reduce profits. So companies will bring actions to these tribunals whose members come from corporate law teams. They will issue judgments that are costly. After a short time, so much for our local (and state and national) environmental laws. It is a real corporate power grab that Congress is even considering fast track legislation. It is mandatory that hearings be conducted when such an abrogation of our national sovereignty is up for grabs.

Jack Murphy's picture
Jack Murphy 9 years 8 weeks ago

I am seeing the following info that has been posted by others that are in defense of the TPP and it's transparencey......

1. https://ustr.gov/tpp/Summary-of-US-objectives


But as I see it, these are simply outlines posted by the Gov office. I'm not seeing anything about the actual negotiations or any debate.

mathboy's picture
mathboy 9 years 8 weeks ago

I think we need some sort of regulation sovereignty clause in our Constitution. No treaty should be able keep our government from making something illegal. From making something legal, sure.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 8 weeks ago

Karen Roo: Just like in this country, the formation of labor unions in the "20 to 30 cents an hour" nations you speak of is my answer and idea for movement towards a decent standard of living. I know easier said than done, the powerful will not stop short of murdering those who dare reach for economic justice in these nations, but in my opinion, if overwhelming numbers demand economic justice, then justice it will be.

The TTP is simply another wealth grabbing/union busting attempt by big money, and thus continuation of the global economic race to the bottom, a world in which a few evil winners take all.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 8 weeks ago

Did anyone hear the caller saying that Obama gets his intellectual guidance from the "commerce club of Chicago". I think it gives insight to why Obama is so aware of the perils of the middle class, yet he supports the TPP. I think Obama is too friendly a person to have worn a green eye shade in his economics courses.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 8 weeks ago

For the TPP, transparency = the kiss of death.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 9 years 8 weeks ago

TPP is the kiss of death to democracy. I wonder if the Medellin cartel will sue our government to recoup expected future profits because of our drug laws. If we can't make laws to protect ourselves and what we value there is no meaningful democracy.

Our system, it seems, is fatally flawed. The whole of the legislature can be bought off to simply choose for their constituents complete, effective political disenfranchisement and disempowerment and a complete dispensing with any democracy for the permanent future.

It's the coup de grace in the grander scheme to bankrupt democratic government by forcing the taxpayers to pay the settlements while at the same time decreeing the absolute oligarchic primacy of corporations and billionaires.

Even more important than the actual provisions of the treaty is the dispensing with democracy that the approval process of the trade agreement entails - and results in.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 9 years 7 weeks ago

Mark S. Yea verily to

Quote Mark S.:Even more important than the actual provisions of the treaty is the dispensing with democracy that the approval process of the trade agreement entails - and results in.

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