An open letter to President Obama regarding TPP

Mike Hasselle

Dear President Obama:

There is a pending international treaty that is very troubling, and I trust you can get the United States back on track. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty, which as you know has been negotiated by the US Trade Representative for several years, has apparently gone awry. Also as you are aware, the impact of this agreement between the US and 11 other nations will have major consequences, since the participating countries are responsible for 40% of the world’s gross domestic product. 

It is evident there are at least two major issues with the negotiation process; the first issue is that the “corporate advisors” from the multinational companies are actually negotiating the text of the treaty. This is clearly allowing the fox to guard the henhouse, and it should be no surprise the leaked text reveals the large companies have negotiated a smorgasbord of perks for their shareholders in this international treaty. 

The second issue is that the treaty is negotiated behind closed doors, where most members of Congress nor the public are allowed to see what is being negotiated, however the “corporate advisors” reportedly have full access to negotiate the text.

The following quote [PDF] from Senator Elizabeth Warren, dated June 21, 2013, summarizes the issue with the current secret negotiation process:  “I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the Trade Representative’s policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant.  In other words, if people knew what was going on, they would stop it. This argument is exactly backwards. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.”

The combination of these two issues have clearly made this agreement ”jump the tracks.” Although the US likely started the treaty with the best intentions, the information now leaked reveals what can happen when the US allows multinational corporations to negotiate its trade agreements. Companies negotiating the text of the TPP, such as Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Halliburton, Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Wal-Mart and Goldman Sachs will win, at the expense of small and medium sized business ownersfarmerslabor unions, and environmental advocates.

As Doctors Without Borders explains, when the US allows Big Pharmaceutical Companies to negotiate the rules for international drug trade, Big Pharma wins at the expense of healthcare.

Another extremely troubling issue is how disputes will be resolved. It is reported these corporations will be granted “investor state” status, whereby they can sue the participating nations (including the US) if the corporation believes the laws or actions of the country may restrict potential future profit. These cases will be decided in international tribunals, modeled after NAFTA.

In lieu of allowing our US elected officials in Congress to review and amend the pending corporate wish list, it is rumored as early as January, 2014. that the administration will ask Congress to fast track the treaty through Congress with only an up or down vote, and no chance for amendment.

In summary, as the President we elected to stand up for the working class (against many of the same corporate giants that are negotiating the text of the TPP), can you help to get this important treaty back on track?  At a minimum, can you ensure the American people that a treaty this large and this important will not be rushed through Congress, without the chance for amendment by our elected officials?

You have lots of people depending on you to “do the right thing.”