Battle Against Trans-Pacific Partnership Can Be Won in Congress

By Susan DuBois

After years of secretive negotiations, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators reached an agreement in early October 2015. Despite a near-blackout of news about the trade agreement in the corporate media, many organizations across a broad spectrum of politics are opposing it and could still stop it.

The TPP trade agreement has been called “NAFTA on steroids” (referring to the disastrous North American Free Trade Agreement) and a “corporate coup against people and the planet.” It is one of three neoliberal trade agreements currently in the works. The TPP involves the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, although other countries could join later.

The other agreements are the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), between the United States and the European Union, and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) involving many nations. TTIP has faced major public opposition in Europe. TiSA is not as well known as the other two but is opposed by postal unions in the United States because it threatens to privatize the U.S. Postal Service. Of these three, the TPP is closest to being approved. At this writing in mid-2016, opponents of the TPP are working to get members of Congress to commit to voting against it.

The TPP and similar deals go far beyond traditional trade issues such as tariffs, getting into many subject areas that normally would be governed by national laws. Among the TPP’s most damaging provisions is an investor-state dispute settlement process (ISDS) under which companies could sue governments for lost profits if the governments strengthen regulations or violate a vague minimum standard of treatment. Similar, but more limited, dispute processes in earlier trade deals have led to repeal of U.S. country-of-origin labeling requirements for meat and a pending challenge to the disapproval of the Keystone pipeline.

Opponents have been working to alert their congressional representatives to the dangers of the TPP trade deal. Labor groups see the TPP as further facilitating export of jobs to low-wage countries; environmental groups anticipate attacks on environmental laws and energy policies under ISDS; Internet-freedom groups are alarmed by the TPP’s intellectual property chapter; and healthcare organizations see the TPP as imperiling both access to medications and progressive health care policies. Some right-wing groups oppose the TPP because they believe it threatens U.S. sovereignty, through ISDS and international bureaucracies. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other legislators from tobacco-growing states have criticized the TPP because it would still allow other countries to adopt anti-smoking policies.

Although the TPP was signed by trade ministers in Feb. 2016, allowing President Obama to start the fast-track process by sending implementation legislation to Congress, as of this writing he has declined to act. Many observers believe that he does not have the votes to pass it now and may wait until a “lame duck” session after the 2016 election.

The TPP has been in the news during the presidential campaign. Once the election is over, Congress will be freer to ignore the public, and the president-elect could change his/her position on the TPP. Now is the time to get your representative and senators publicly on record against the TPP.

Dubois2.jpg Susan DuBois is a retired public employee who lives in Albany, NY. She is active in the labor and peace movements.

This article originally appeared in the summer 2016 (early June) issue of the Democratic Left magazine.

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
· 66 rsvps

Historian John D'Emilio's presentation will do 3 things: Provide a brief explanation of how sexual and gender identities have emerged; provide an overview of the progression of LGBT activism since its origins in the 1950s, highlighting key moments of change; and, finally, suggest what issues, from a democratic socialist perspective, deserve prioritizing now. John co-authored Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, which was quoted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that ruled state sodomy laws unconstitutional. 1 pm ET; 12 pm CT; 11 am MT; 10 am PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Peg Strobel, peg.strobel@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 30 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT. Here's a blog post about PHIT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

April 04, 2017
· 85 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-Chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement.  9 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

What Is DSA? Training Call

April 05, 2017
· 9 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Feminist Working Group

April 12, 2017
· 28 rsvps

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the elections.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

April 16, 2017
· 23 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 10 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.