Originally published May 14 2015
Same Republicans who criticized Obama for lack of transparency now trying to push secretive TPP trade deal
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Politics in America often makes for strange bedfellows, and that is once again proving to be the case regarding the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, a "trade" deal that is a cornerstone of President Obama's second term.
Enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact involving a dozen or so countries including the U.S., Mexico and Japan, in which liberal Democrats once aligned lock-step with Obama on most other issues now oppose him vehemently.
In their stead have stepped Republicans, believe it or not, who are now (mostly) in lock-step supporting Obama (some for the very first time) in his pursuit of fast-track trade authority so he can ram through TPP without senators or congressmen ever getting an opportunity to change or amend it in any way.
And they are being asked to support it essentially blindly, because the Obama Administration has refused to make details of the deal -- which has been under negotiation now for about a decade -- public.
Talk about strange bedfellows and irony: The last time this happened, it was Obama and Democrats -- epitomized by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. -- urging passage of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) without first knowing what was it in it.
"We have to pass the bill so you can find out what's in it," was what Pelosi said at the time.
And now, so it is with TPP. But Obama doesn't have his Democrats on board this time around.
Obama claiming high ground, but his record of dishonesty precedes him
In fact, in the Senate, which has constitutional "advice and consent" power over treaties, all but one Democrat voted to filibuster the fast-track bill, handing the White House a defeat (at least for now) and putting conservatives and Republicans in the odd position of siding with a president they have fought for the past six years.
Leading the Democrats is uber-progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who normally sides with Obama but who has laid out her concerns for the bill.
"I have three objections. The first is that the president is asking us to vote to grease the skids on a trade deal that has largely been negotiated, but that is still held in secret," she told NPR recently.
"The second is that we know that corporations under this deal are going to get to sue countries for regulations they don't like and that the decisions are not going to be made by courts, they're going to be made by private lawyers," she continued. "And the third problem is that he wants us to vote on a six-year, grease-the-skids deal."
The secrecy issue alone should be enough for any lawmaker to oppose this legislation; how can the American people, through their elected representatives, make a fully informed decision about this trade deal if they don't know what it says or what it does?
Obama, per normal, has sought to marginalize and ostracize Warren, whom he views as an enemy on this issue.
In a recent interview with Yahoo News, Obama said Warren was "absolutely wrong" and that she was essentially just posing.
"The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else," he said. "And you know, she's got a voice that she wants to get out there."
Culture of secrecy extends beyond Capitol Hill
Given Obama's track record of dishonesty and his administration's lack of transparency, you'd probably be right if you gave Warren the benefit of the doubt on this one. And anyway, as she has since challenged the president, he can clear all of this up in an instant by simply making the terms of the agreement public.
The culture of secrecy regarding TPP stretches beyond U.S. borders and Capitol Hill. According The Asahi Shimbum, a Japanese newspaper, a Japanese vice minister was chastened for even suggesting Japanese lawmakers could get a look at the agreement.
Yasutoshi Nishimura, a senior vice minister in the Cabinet Office, said May 4, "We want to coordinate matters so that (legislators in Japan) can also access (the TPP) text from next week."
But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was furious when he heard about Nishimura's comment and, according to government sources, retorted, "On what authority did he make that statement?"
Nishimura was eventually forced to retract his statement.
The Japanese paper also reported that U.S. senators and representatives were able to view the TPP document, but the paper did not mention that any viewing had to take place in secret, and that no details about the agreement could be released.
In both cases, however, it appears that the citizens of each country are going to be held in the dark about what is actually in the TPP agreement -- at least, you know, until after it passes.
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