Protesters get inside Senate TPP fast-track hearing

On the 16th of January, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on “fast-track” approval of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. Opponents of the TPP held signs and unfurled a huge banner. As the hearing ended protesters began to shout, thus getting in the last word.

Youtube/Google privacy warnings apply to videos below, download with youtube-dl or similar Firefox extension

Youtube Video-protesters shout and display a huge banner inside the TPP hearing

CWA President Larry Cohen’s testimony against the TPP (on Youtube)-includes reminder that neither NAFTA nor any later trade deal ever created jobs in the US.

Photo by John Zangas

Photo by John Zangas

Photo by DC Media Group

Photo by DC Media Group

DC Media Group reports that all of the Senators in the Finance Committee hearing were reported to be “slobbering” over fast-track and the TPP. The talk was the usual bullshit about “level the playing field,” “lower barriers to trade,” “stay in the game,.” but the TPP clearly does not put ANYONE on a level playing field, it favors huge multinationals. At one point Max Baucus demanded that protesters lower their signs or be expelled, but protesters got thelast word with the banner.

The bill is called the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 ” and the Senate chair’s press release talks of “job creating trade agreements.” The talk of jobs is a lie, and holding hearings on this bill is turning out to be like holding hearings on Iraq War funding in 2007.

CWA president Larry Cohen was reported as saying “No, corporations should not have the right to sue government for consumer protections!” during the hearing. This refers to the NAFTA-style investor protection clause of the TPP, one of its most unpopular elements. GMO foods and harsh new Internet restrictions also face overwhelming public opposition. Perhaps the reason the fast-track bill allows Congress to approve a treaty without reading it is fear of these unpopular clauses being published in the Congressional Record?

Already published by Congress is TPA Digital Trade and the Internet.pdf which buried in pages of puffery states that a ban on “forced localization” of digital assets is one of the TTP’s goals. In the aftermath of the NSA spy scandal this will be a very hard sell to the other TPP and also TTIP negotiating countries. What they call “forced localization” is European-style proposals to keep a country’s internet assets inside their own borders and out of reach of PRISM-compliant US data centers.

One of the pro-corporate people claimed that you could not conduct trade negotiations with “535 negotiators,” but apparently you can with 600+ corporate advisers. They claim the bill will “create jobs” but in actuality it will destroy jobs in countries like the US. Jobs which are created will be in sweatshops, and some will go to slave labor. In fact, there are reports that there are no more slaves on Earth than there have ever been before, including in the American South, ancient Rome, or anywhere else. The US Chamber of Commerce can hang all the “jobs” banners on this bill or on their headquarters they want, but they mean jobs for slaves!

Senator Portman said “we need to get this done” but he may have a lot of difficulty either passing Fast Track or ever getting a treaty to consider in the first place.

It is quite likely that there will never be a TPP deal to hold a up or down vote on without reading the treaty text, as this bill permits. Leaked documents show the US negotiating positions on issues like “intellectual property” to stand almost alone and very far from the positions of all other countries involved in the negotiations.

Fast Track itself will be opposed both by the Tea Party and by the Progressive Democrats, I do not know if that is enough votes to block it. The Tea Party won’t want to give more power to Obama, and neither side is a fan of things like the WTO and NAFTA. The “centrist” Dems like Obama and the Chamber of Commerce brand GOP are the supporters of the TPP and other trade treaties.

A signed TPP treaty getting a vote in Congress would likely turn people out in the streets in a very masssive way. As likely as not the “Teamsters and Turtles” coalition of Seattle 1999 would appear again, In addition, the same Internet folks who sank the SOPA bill and the ACTA treaty would attack TPP and also TTIP. Given the history of the WTO, SOPA, and ACTA, either of these forces may be enough to sink both trade treaties.

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