Obfuscation and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

There are times when things just do not add up. When they don’t, you try and get answers. When you receive non-answers, — in other words, answers to questions you did not ask, — as your original concerns remain unanswered, — that is a real head scratcher. I wrote my Congressional Representative a number of times with specific concerns regarding Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Each response was a rehash of the importance of trade to our state, as if I didn’t know trade and commerce were important. There is more to governing than jobs and commerce. Not one of five specific concerns were addressed. The following are the five specific concerns expressed in correspondence to my Congressional Representative in June 2015.

After reading your 2nd response to TPA, and the following TPP legislation, it is apparent that your position has not changed. Once again, I will express my opposition to giving the President Trade Promotion Authority. The reasons are straight forward and many.

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  1. Article l, Section 8 of the Constitution states, “The Congress shall have the Power To — regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.” The Congress already has the authority to debate, amend, and pass legislation regarding trade with foreign nations. So my question remains, “Why would you (and the GOP Leadership) relinquish to the President the authority Congress already has?
  2. In light of the President’s action regarding immigration and the Affordable Care Act, — where he ignored laws currently in affect, and even ignored the laws regarding the ACA (his own party’s legislation), —would you trust him to operate in the best interest of your constituents? President Obama already operates by fiat, and now you want to give him license to do so with trade?
  3. You never addressed the question of a transnational organization, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission, having the authority to override US laws and institutions. You say you will protect our sovereignty, but how? Why put it at risk in the first place? This aspect of the TPP has the makings of a “treaty,” as it has the force of law (Article VI). Treaties require a 2/3s approval of the Senate (Article II, Section 2), and not a simple up or down vote in the House. What the GOP and Mitch McConnell have done is an end run around the treaty provisions of the Constitution! This is a “sleight of hand” that preys on the ignorance of the American People. I find this inexcusable.
  4. My understanding is that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is to be a “living document,” meaning that it can be changed and members added upon some consensus of the existing members. Under any other conditions, this would be a nonstarter. How can you entertain voting for the approval of a “moving target?”
  5. Up until now, all negotiations have been done in secret. Most members, as I understand it, have not read any of the TPP Agreement. How can you entertain voting a straight “up or down” on something you have not seen, studied, and cannot amend?

Since that time, Trade Promotion Authority was passed, and on November 5, 2015, the full text of the TPP Agreement was released. Many of the questions posed in my June 2015 correspondence were answered. Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican from Alabama, stated the following in his official news release. The following comments are in reference to an administrative and executive body, — the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission.

“The text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership runs 5,554 pages. This is, by definition, anti-democratic. No individual American has the resources to ensure his or her economic and political interests are safeguarded within this vast global regulatory structure. The predictable and surely desired result of the TPP is to put greater distance between the governed and those who govern. It puts those who make the rules out of reach of those who live under them, empowering unelected regulators who cannot be recalled or voted out of office. In turn, it diminishes the power of the people’s bulwark: their constitutionally-formed Congress.”

Senator Sessions later points out, “This global governance authority is open-ended: ‘The Commission and any subsidiary body established under this Agreement may establish rules of procedures for the conduct of its work.’ It covers everything from the movement of foreign nationals: ‘No Party shall adopt or maintain … measures that impose limitations on the total number of natural persons that may be employed in a particular service sector … in the form of numerical quotas or the requirement of an economic needs test;’ to climate regulation: ‘The Parties acknowledge that transition to a low emissions economy requires collective action.'”

Shamefully, my questions and concerns were not answered by my own Congressional Representative, but by Senator Sessions and the document itself. He has been brave to point out that the TPP is more than a mere trade agreement. It is a means by which some hope to slide the US into a regional union similar to the European Union. It is a threat to our Constitutional Republic and our national sovereignty where unelected bureaucrats have control, and the average citizen has no course for redress of grievances. Are we going to allow the treaty provisions of our own Constitution to be circumvented through a legislative “sleight go hand?” I encourage all freedom loving Americans to look into this for themselves, then — to write your Senators and Representative and urge “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority be rolled back for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

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