It took a bit longer than expected and there were a few more “oh, this issue over rice imports could blow up the whole thing” stories than I thought, but the 12 nations involved came to an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This deal is awful for American workers and gives a great deal more power to pharmaceutical companies to extend their monopolies on drugs. It greatly expands the Investor State Dispute Settlement courts that give companies tremendous power to derail national law that would promote labor or environmental standards. It accedes to the Malaysian use of slave labor. Supposedly, the TPP was supposed to help leverage U.S. power in Asia against the Chinese, but this never made any sense on the face it and the Chinese themselves are interested in joining.
We still don’t know exactly what’s in the TPP and the full text won’t be available for at least a month. We know that Obama says there are protections for labor and environmental standards that were not in NAFTA and other trade agreements. But that there were no seats at the table for labor or environmentalists, I am extremely skeptical they will be meaningful except at providing cover for the agreement as a whole.
There is almost no way this does not pass Congress. It may however be delayed unless Obama can push it through quickly. Hopefully, Bernie Sanders will make a big deal of this in the primaries and force Hillary Clinton to say she opposes it, which she does not in her heart. But making her say it at least could delay its implementation.
Along with education policy, trade has been the biggest policy demerit of the Obama administration.
A sad day.