President Obama “talked the talk” about renewing the American manufacturing sector and the broader economy at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Now, he faces a “walk the walk” challenge.
The Obama administration’s trade representative continues to engage in secretive meetings with multinational corporations as part of the process of negotiating a “new NAFTA” known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The secretiveness mirrors negotiations the led to the North American Free Trade Agreement and other deals that have been devastating to the American manufacturing sector. These are precisely the sort of agreements that take away the “level playing field” both Obama and Mitt Romney say they want for American workers. Yet they keep being negotiated by Republican and Democratic administrations because they are not just favored by Wall Street and the multinationals, they top priorities of the CEOs, hedge-fund managers and speculators who form the donor class of American politics.
“ NAFTA on steroids” is the term Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, uses to describe the direction behind-closed-door negotiations for the TPP appear to be headed. Indeed, argue Global Trade Watch analysts:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” agreement is a stealthy policy being pressed by corporate America, a dream of the 1 percent, that in one blow could:
* offshore millions of American jobs
* free the banksters from oversight
* ban the “Buy American” policies needed to create green jobs and rebuild our economy
* decrease access to medicine (especially generic drugs)
* flood the U.S. with unsafe food and products
* empower corporations to attack our environmental and health-care standards.
More than 130 members of Congress—including many prominent speakers at the Democratic National Convention (Maryland’s Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards, Illinois’ Luis Gutierrez, Missouri’s Emanuel Cleaver) have urged Obama administration US Trade Representative Ron Kirk “to engage in broader and deeper consultations with members of the full range of committees of Congress whose jurisdiction touches on the wide-ranging issues involved, and to ensure there is ample opportunity for Congress to have input on critical policies that will have broad ramifications for years to come.”
Yet sessions shaping the agreement—in consultation, according to the Citizens Trade Campaign, with Cargill, GlaxoSmithKline, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, Nike, Walmart and other major corporations—continue to be held behind closed doors, with the latest taking place Sunday at the posh Lansdowne Resort in Virginia.