By RHETA MOAZZAMI
To address Paul J. Gessing’s letter of June 22 on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Trade Promotion Authority, (TPA) that allows presidents to negotiate an agreement with an up-or-down vote in Congress, (they can make no amendments or filibuster):
This might be just fine for a country run by a totalitarian government. But, we the people, in our country, need to demand to know what our government is up to. And, this is impossible with the TPP.
Why should people in a democracy need to just trust their corporations to write laws which can only be seen by members of the House and Senate if they go into a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center, read only one section at a time, as they are watched over, and then are forced to hand over any notes they make before leaving.
And, they are forbidden to tell us about what it might say. 600 U.S. companies have been a part of the process of writing the TPP and have been given access to various parts of it. What kind of “democracy” is this?
Thanks to WikiLeaks, we know about a couple of the power/money grabs by the public health industry and pharmaceutical companies. We know that the TPP would prevent Congress from passing reforms to lower drug costs. It lets drug companies extend the life of a patent by slightly modifying their product and then getting a new patent. No competition for that drug for another 20 years, keeping the price high. Good-bye affordable generic drugs that save lives.
We know that if a state government wants to build a hospital somewhere and there’s a private hospital nearby, the TPP can give the private hospital the right to sue the government over the expected loss of future profits.
And, from past “free trade” treaties, we know that Togo, Australia, and Uruguay are all being sued by tobacco companies, Philip Morris the leading one, to prevent them from introducing health warnings on cigarette packets.
The United States already has lost a challenge to its anti-smoking policies and has had to revise its country of origin meat labeling and dolphin protection policies to comply with past trade obligations.
Even worse, the bill continues to provide extraordinary legal rights and privileges to foreign investors (known as investor-to-state dispute settlement or ISDS)—rights and privileges that home-grown businesses do not share. Multinational corporations have used similar provisions in other agreements to attack clean air (in Peru) and water (in Canada) policies, land use decisions (in Mexico) and even a minimum wage increase (in Egypt).
Even if these cases could be defended from multinationals, governments spend, on average, more than $10 million for each case.
Gessing wants to get the TPP passed to increase profits for oil and gas in New Mexico.
Taxpayers currently subsidize the oil industry by as much as $4.8 billion a year, with about half of that going to the big five oil companies—ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, and ConocoPhillips—which get an average tax break of $3.34 on every barrel of domestic crude they produce.
So, we don’t need to worry about increasing the profits of the oil and gas companies at the expense of giving up our democracy and our sovereignty.