Is President Obama or Elizabeth Warren Wrong?
On April 15th Elizabeth Warren came out swinging against the Trans Pacific Partnership. She had the support of the unions and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) among other Liberals and Progressives.
"No more secret trade deals," said Elizabeth Warren said. "Are you ready to fight? No more secret deals. No more special deals for multinational corporations. Are you ready to fight? Are you ready to fight any more deals that say we are going to help the rich get richer and leave everyone else behind? Are you ready to fight back?"
President Obama appeared on a panel on Chris Matthew's Hardball. When asked why there is so much push back from Liberals and Progressives in his party he said they simply did not want a trade deal.
"I love Elizabeth," President Obama said. "We are allies on a whole host of issues. But she is wrong on this."
President Obama went on to say that when he came into office he asked himself what kind of trade deal he would like to see that worked for Americans. He said he wanted trade deals with countries to have strong enforceable labor standards, strong environmental standards, and reciprocal access to their markets.
While that sounds great the reality of all trade deals thus far is that they have all failed in all those respects. They have made corporations and their stockholders rich as workers got displaced and underpaid.
President Obama's biggest support is coming from Chamber of Commerce Republicans and corporatist Democrats like ex-Congressman Harold Ford Jr. These are the same folks who have generally been critical of the President's more middle-class centric policies. If they are unanimously for the deal it generally indicates the bill is biased towards a corporate centric elite, the plutocracy.
Demos President Heather McGhee had the most important statement that most in the debate generally miss. Those promoting the deal purposefully do not discuss it.
"I would love for there to be a little more honesty about what this is really about," Heather McGhee said. "This massive deal is actually not about trade. It's about fourteen things and trade is the smallest piece of it."
She then went on to discuss the Investor-State Dispute Settlement provision where corporations can sue government if they pass laws that affect their bottom line. The suit is then resolved not by a court of law but by an external body.
If these trade agreements were really about increasing trade that would help workers, the environment, and business alike, why are unions and environmentalists not at the table. The answer is simple. These deals aim to maximize corporate profits. Any benefits for the environment and workers are secondary.