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Trans Pacific Partnership versus the Status Quo

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  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    We will find out soon what's in the final draft of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement that will be voted on by Congress with no amendments allowed. WikiLeaks has leaked one chapter on the environmental factors. And I have committed to do a thorough review and summary of the pros and cons once it's released in its entirety. However, we are continuing to see politicians cherry pick something out of the 2013 WikiLeaks drafts like it is the final draft. We do NOT know yet what is in the final draft.

    The other point I must make again is that we should not look at each point of contention on what we like or don't like, but rather how it compares to the status quo. I'll remind everyone that we already have trade agreements with each of the other eleven countries in the agreement, and many of these agreements were made when our perspectives on the economy and jobs were different. Through many years of trade and a changing global economy we have identified several fixes needed in those prior agreements. The TPP is a bunch of fixes as well new arrangements on the trade of goods and services.

    If you do not like certain provisions in the TPP, I would ask you to take a look at the existing agreements (the status quo) and decide if these are better or worse. If we say 'no' to the TPP we revert back to the terms of the existing agreements and will not be starting from scratch on new terms. It is either one or the other...nothing else.

    Oh and China is not one of the partners to this agreement so don't go bitching about China. That's Donald Trump's job.

    PS - The link above has some selling points by the pro TPP people and firms. I can appreciate that it does not present the "other side" yet.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement was released to Congress in it's final, "take it or leave it" form on November 5th. It is a 6,000 page agreement that requires some background in law to get a full understanding of the text. It will not be voted on by Congress until maybe March or April. The political dialogue will be highly charged.

    The above link breaks the agreement down by chapters. A summary in layman's language precedes each of the chapters, but the full text of each chapter is also available for those that want to delve more deeply into the actual words, rather than the summaries. I will take an objective look at these chapters over the next several weeks and months while also paying attention to what the critics are saying in the blogosphere, and right off I notice that many of them are "blasting it" with cherry picked issues not to their liking.

    For example, the environmentalists are condemning it because it makes no mention of Climate Change. This is not a Climate Change document; it's a trade agreement. Much like the Iran Nuclear Agreement that had no mention of the hostages, this trade agreement cannot solve the world's problem on Climate Change or other issues sacrosanct to liberals. If we were to hold out for the ideological purity of every special interest group's demands, we would have no trade agreement.

    The other point I must state again and again, is that no matter what you don't like in this agreement, the option is not going back to Square 1. We already have trade agreements with all of these countries, and those agreements represent the status quo. We can rip those individual agreements up as Trump might have you believe, but then the trade would be governed by the World Trade Organization agreements (previously GATT) , and many union members and environmentalists don't like those either. So the next option is no trade at all...effectively boycotting ourselves from the "evils of foreign trade." That's Trump talk...it resonates with many workers. It's also really stupid talk.

    You can browse the internet and no doubt find every special interest group condemning this agreement. Many want 100 percent of their demands. However, this is an agreement reached by professionals from 12 countries committed to their task and not politics. As such, it has many compromises that are not to the liking of those ideologically driven.

    I hope those members here will keep that in mind as they read the critical reviews and try understand the long term ramifications of the agreement.

  • Democrat
    Missouri
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    Appears heavily that Obama has kicked the can down the road on Human Rights & Trafficking. Ignoring the obedience of concerned people on Human Rights and Trafficking is what Obama has accomplished. Many a Democrat and Liberal are crying foul over Obama's ignoring the plight of suffering people. So, who got to Obama? That's the big question. Both Kerry and Obama are announcing approval of the new 6000 page document. First reads identify very little with forcing countries to comply with Human Rights and Trafficking. This TPP is more on making Billionaires than hearing the cries of the unfortunate. Oh well, if this is a negative part of Obama's legacy, he now OWNS it. Just like second Bush having his father (first bush) write a book on his son's presidency. The new Bush book clarifies what many of us knew that his son was surrounded by questionable people (Cheney & Rumsfeld), but his son hired them, so as President, HE OWNS it. Just as Obama, history will show Obama as OWNER of the deplorable human catastrophic TPP. Greed & Power has joined once again to take advantage of society.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Yes Obama owns the Trans Pacific Trade agreement, if it is eventually approved. I will reiterate it is a TRADE agreement....not a document that addresses every human inequality on the planet. So was Obama supposed to transform this trade agreement into a global Human Rights and Trafficking Agreement? Maybe tack on the Black Lives Matter demands as well...and the LGBT community's demands...and animal rights demands...and women and girls...etc. etc.

    So AMC, are you one that likes the status quo? No TPP? Scrap this agreement because it doesn't solve the global Human Rights issues across this planet? And what would scrapping the agreement solve? If we are serious about linking trade to Human Rights abuse, we should start by looking right at home where we incarcerate more people than any other country on this planet. And solitary confinement is not cruel and unusual for many of those incarcerated? And executing them with lethal chemical injections that don't always work so fast...slow deaths? Maybe the rest of the nations will boot us out of the TPP for those human rights violations...not to mention our bombs and drones.

    The TPP and this tread is about trade...let's confine the agreement and discussions to that.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    This is an extract from President Obama's Introduction to the TPP:

    "It’s the highest standard trade agreement in history. It eliminates 18,000 taxes that various countries put on American goods. That will boost Made-in-America exports abroad while supporting higher-paying jobs right here at home. And that’s going to help our economy grow.

    "I know that past trade agreements haven’t always lived up to the hype. That’s what makes this trade agreement so different, and so important.

    "The TPP includes the strongest labor standards in history, from requiring a minimum wage and worker safety regulations to prohibiting child labor and forced labor. It also includes the strongest environmental commitments in history, requiring countries in one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth to crack down on illegal wildlife trafficking, illegal logging, and illegal fishing. These standards are at the core of the agreement and are fully enforceable — which means we can bring trade sanctions against countries that don’t step up their game.

    "And for the first time ever, we’ll have a multilateral trade agreement that reflects the reality of the digital economy by promoting a free and open Internet and by preventing unfair laws that restrict the free flow of data and information."

    --- President Obama

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The more I read it the more I like it. I do wonder though as I read various negative comments of the TPP on the internet if I am reading the same document. Time had a good article on cognitive dissonance this week. It would appear to me that there is nothing that President Obama can say about this agreement that would get people to change their minds. For unions, they stated their opposition and hatred for this agreement before negotiations even begun years ago.

  • Democrat
    Missouri
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    The TPP also protects other countries in the agreements from "ANY" lawsuit for negligence and malicious product exported to America. So, if you purchase one of these products that harms your family, friends or yourself, you have no recourse to sue the manufacturer. Buyer Beware! There's the devil in those details of the TPP. There's a lot more going there against the consumer, which is why Elizabeth Warren has spoken against the Trade Agreement, it harms consumers. Yes, Obama owns it and I assume he is taking a bitter pill for accepting the agreement. As always, people ignore the human rights, trafficking and child slavery elements. Just keep ignoring the human suffering in the world, because it will not go away until somebody with backbone and humanity steps up and announces an end to these atrocities. Try as you want to ignore, these things don't go away unless someone makes a stand. The TPP Agreement is just that a "Trade Agreement", where humanity doesn't count.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    AMC -- Thanks for your points of concern. I have spent quite a bit of time browsing the final draft since it was released just two days ago, but you are ahead of me. I must have missed the point about the lawsuits for negligence and product liability, but I'm sure I'll find it buried in the fine print. Or maybe you can save me some time and direct me to the particular pages in the agreement where those points are covered.

    Also regarding human trafficking, I'm sure you are aware of the 2010 Plan of Action by the United Nations to combat human trafficking. Despite those endeavors human trafficking is still a problem. Secretary John Kerry's July 2015 Trafficking in Person's report (380 pages) builds on the UN Plan of Action. As this is a hot topic for you, I'm sure you read it. It kind of goes against your contention that Obama is "ignoring the plight of suffering people."

    And yes the TPP also addresses human trafficking. From the FAQ section:

    "TPP requires Malaysia and other TPP member countries to prohibit forced labor, which will be backed by dispute settlement and sanctions in case countries do not comply." As President Obama has said, "That’s not enough, and the problem remains serious."

    So the question is should Human Trafficking be made the central focus of the TPP? With the United Nations leading the efforts, should the USA put this as our number one goal...even scrapping the TPP until we can get language with more teeth in it? I think not. It's not a problem that can be solved by the TPP alone. It's a global problem and one nation or the 12 nations of the TPP cannot act unilaterally to solve the problem.

    You of course read into the TPP agreement what you want to read. I focused more on the trade terms and especially the reduction of tariffs that will be a big help in exports and job creation here in America. So I will respectfully disagree with your premise that in the TPP, "humanity doesn't count". It makes me wonder if you have read the agreement.

  • Democrat
    Missouri
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    I have been going with the flow of media from the Democrats, both political and citizen responses to the TPP. Obama does not have a good show of Democratic Party support on his decision to support TPP. The Democratic base sees this as a billionaires present and not as consumers getting anything great. The part of society getting the rewards of TPP is the top 5%. This what Elizabeth Warren is so opposed to Obama supporting TPP, as she interprets the TPP a horrible attack on most all Americans. Ms. Warren is not alone in the opposition and joins a growing community of Democrats and concerned citizens, like myself, that question why Obama is pushing a Republican supported act. The Republicans love the TPP and why? Billionaires get lots of money and Americans cannot grieve or sue for bad products in America. Although, people may sue in International Court, but how easy it for an American to sue in International Court? I'm listening to the Party, so I can't see at the moment how I would have enough energy to read a 6000 page report. I'll let the media reporters do that and I will continue to propagate the sounds of discourse on this subject. On another legal dangle, foreign corporations can sue the US Government if any domestic business or company attempts to sue the country for the bad product or if foreign corporations do not receive adequate profits. Something stinks very bad about TPP.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    I have read most of the summaries in the links I have provided. Also all the FAQs. In my browsing of the internet, all of the criticism comes from mostly liberal websites that are referencing stuff from WikiLeaks drafts going back to 2013, but none so far that I can tell have gone into the final agreement to validate their claims.

    Now I will freely admit that the summaries provided by the Obama administration are one sided and look pretty good to me; and they address many of the points brought up by opponents. There was a lot of midnight oil burned in the past few weeks to reach agreement on several of the sticking points so earlier WikiLeak drafts are not reliable. I have been waiting to see legitimate counterpoints published by neutral websites. As I pointed out in previous posts and blogs, many of these opposing websites in past critiques reference the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank bought and paid for by the unions. Some of their analyses to me just don't stand up to professional scrutiny. So if someone references EPI as their source, I would be very cautious.

    Elizabeth Warren, as best I can tell, has not provided a detailed assessment of the final draft. Her talking points have not changed from what she has been preaching from the get go. Like yourself, Warren has a few topics that hit her "hot button", but all I see from her is criticism. She totally ignores all the positive points, like cutting over 18,000 taxes various countries put on Made-in-America products. Isn't that the essence of this agreement? Why can't liberals like yourself admit that cutting tariffs is good for exports and jobs? Instead you focus on such things as human trafficking.

    For those opposed, including Elizabeth Warren who has boxed herself in so she cannot support the agreement, anyone can find some point and make a mountain out of a mole hill. I don't claim to understand how significant any of those talking points are compared to the tariff reductions. Tariff reductions are a big f**king deal to me...my hot button.

    I said I was going to give this an objective review over weeks and months. It will be very tedious and time consuming. I would hope that the facts and professional analyses will be digested with critical thinking instead of everyone obediently lining up behind the unions who never supported this agreement from the get go. That's what Republicans do. We're better than that.

    In the meantime, take some time to read some of the links I provided . The FAQ's are easy reading.

    Oh and a final point. Twelve countries came together to hammer this out. It included a lot of compromises. "Compromise" is not a four letter word...it spells progress.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    I have looked at the TPP off and on over the past few months, usually fact checking when someone makes another spurious claim about the TPP. Ignorance abounds on both the left and the right. Are there some areas that could be better? Yes, but the agreement as a whole is far better than the 12 agreements we have in place now. If you like the way trade is being handled now, then scuttle the TPP. Most union members, however, do not like the status quo either. They want their manufacturing jobs back, many of which are gone forever because of automation. Anyway, for the skeptics, I recommend reading this article:

    Edwin G. Dolan, Huffington Post, March 16, 2016: These Charts Show Why Trump and Bernie Are Wrong to Attack Free Trade

    I agree with everything said in this article. If you disagree, present a well documented case and don't just regurgitate talking points from the union funded EPI.

  • Liberal
    Independent
    Durham, NH
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    I'd say all the comments to that article just about tell it all! Another bloviating economist trying to make a case for the 1% raping everyone else. Tell Joe Sixpack how free trade agreements help make his life better and you will understand how Trumpy got in the position he is in today.

    Sorry to have to disagree to you and this guy but graphs and charts and nothing more than smoke and mirrors when it comes to winning arguments. History proves the facts.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Pr -- Can I safely assume that you do not believe in trade with foreign countries?

  • Liberal
    Independent
    Durham, NH
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    No! Don't assume anything. I think we need and should have a trade pact with our own kind (Canada, for example).

    The big problem is we can all find the data to "prove" our own preconceived biases. I'm the first to admit it, as I'm sure you will agree.

    Two, of the many, questions I ask myself daily are:

    1. Will free trade make my life any better? The simple answer is, of course, yes and no. Who can complain about huge TV sets costing $300 that can't even be repaired and obsolete in several years, clothing that is so inexpensive it makes more sense to just throw it away every year and buy new things? We live in a disposable society, partly because of free trade. Was my (or your life) any more happier, safer, comfortable before free trade in the 50's and 60's? I'd say a resounding NO.

    2. Has free trade made the impoverished of the world any better off? Again, yes and no. They have access to more life saving health related options, for sure, but are they really any more happy, safe or secure than before free trade. By our standards the are, of course. Who would want to live in a cardboard shack, for example? These are our values, however, and the USA and much of the industrialized world , for that matter believes happiness is a product of wealth, income and so called freedom. Are the so called unfortunates we pity for having to live in cardboard or mud houses really any worse off than we are or any less happier? The answer might surprise us. We are masters at telling everyone else they will be happier, safe, better people if only they would "Believe in our god, accept our way and standards of living, morality". I would suggest the whole Middle East crisis (for example) is a product of the Western world raping and plunder the natural resources and citizens of that area. The USA isn't to blame, necessarily, but, most of Europe is and they were smart enough to thrown in the towel and hand the mess over to us years ago, knowing full well we would love to mold them into "Exceptional American Middle Easterners" given the chance and we would have the firepower to accomplish it.

    But, I'm going on way too long already before my second cup of java this morning and I still have to kick the dog and chase the religious fundies away from my from front porch so I'll leave you with this other point of view (as meaningless as they all are} and close by suggesting history enlightens us all - unfortunately after the fact.

    salon.com/2016/03/18/hillary_clinton_do...

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Thanks pr --

    Your comments are of a general nature and not specific to the TPP versus the status quo. Likewise Paul Rosenberg (Salon), whose progressive views on trade mirror those of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, presents a one sided argument. I don't believe he is an economist but rather a true progressive.

    I have spent countless hours delving into the various arguments for and against the TPP. I have written two blog articles on it, and will soon write a third. The point I have made again and again is that we already have flawed bilateral trade agreements in place for all of these countries, and many of them have tariffs that penalize US companies. Not only that, the countries also have all kinds of bureaucratic red tape that makes it difficult for American small businesses to export their products to those countries, even without the tariffs. The TPP fixes most all of those bottlenecks to free trade. I trust President Obama more than the union funded and highly biased Economic Policy Institute. The EPI is not objective when it comes to trade or free trade.

    Anyway, putting all those "positives" aside, the one argument that seems to be voiced again and again by both Trump and Sanders is "currency manipulation". Following is an article in Vox on currency manipulation that makes sense to me:

    Vox, May 12, 2015: Currency manipulation and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, explained

    I won't summarize it except to say that currency manipulation should be addressed in a side agreement and not in the TPP.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Dallas, TX
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    Schmidt, my problem with all things trade is everyone from the top down has it completely backwards.

    Economics is the opposite of religion: it's better to receive than to give.

    This is the position of classical economics which stood in opposition to classical mercantilism.

    The stuff we get to consume is equal to what we produce for our own consumption - what we produce for foreign consumption + what foreigners produce for our consumption. If domestic output is maximized, net-imports add to our pile of stuff to consume. This is why net-export economies have a CLEAR inflationary bias. Net-exports raise incomes while producing nothing consumed by the domestic economy. The export nation loses real resources and gain monetary digits. Here's what should be recognized: if a foreign nation imposes a tax on our exports to their country, that frees more policy space for lower taxes or more government spending in the United States, as the foreign tax diverts real resources back to consumption in the US economy and lowers incomes from exports.

    If China wants to manipulate their currency to support their exporters, that's not our problem, it's to our benefit!

    We get that stuff to consume, they get USD for savings.

    The trick is not letting the demand leakage from foreign savings lead to domestic unemployment.

    To take advantage of China's huge "gift" to the United States, we need to actively pursue full employment policies, so the net-imports always add to our economy, rather than replacing production not put to other use.

    ....................................................................

    On the TPP, I see no advantages for subjecting our nation's economic legal regulation to any new authority outside of it.

    I think there is too much in it for anyone to come to a conclusion about what it will do. Decisions should not be made like this. There are too many neoliberal people involved and many of them are government and trade deficit terrorists. I don't care what the so-called "progressives" involved say they have accomplished.