By Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance.
Above photo: Leading the Stop the TPP contingent of the March for a Clean Energy Revolution in Philadelphia. Photo by Ellen Davidson.
Thousands pledge to resist ratification of the TPP in the lame duck session of Congress this fall.
Philadelphia, PA – Thousands of people marched in the March for a Clean Energy Revolution on the day prior to the Democratic National Convention. Popular Resistance and members of the Flush the TPP campaign created a bold, bright and spirited “Stop the TPP” contingent to raise awareness of the threats posed by the TPP, put the Democrats on notice that the people oppose rigged corporate deals and to recruit more people to join the No Lame Duck Uprising.
The TPP is a large international treaty that was negotiated over the past 7 years by the Obama administration. It was negotiated in secret with the help of hundreds of ‘corporate advisers’ from companies like Walmart, Monsanto, Pfizer, Exxon and more. Members of Congress were largely left out of the process. They had to request to see the text, could only read summaries or redacted portions and could neither take notes about what they read nor talk about it. There was a virtual media black out for years.
In 2015, after years of delay due to popular pressure, Congress passed fast track legislation allowing whomever is president to rush treaties through Congress for ratification without meaningful debate or amendments and only an up or down vote. One concession of fast track was that the text of the TPP was released to the public a month after the negotiations were completed last October, instead of four years as was intended. Analyses found that the TPP is worse than civil society thought. Visit FlushtheTPP.org for more information.
The TPP grants thousands of new corporations the right to sue the government over new laws that might interfere with their expected profits. This is called Investor State Dispute Settlement or ISDS. Cases would be heard in an international tribunal staffed by corporate lawyers on leave from their jobs. This would allow them to perhaps set a precedent that could be advantageous to their own employer at a later date. Decisions by the tribunal cannot be appealed in any of our courts, not even the Supreme Court. The tribunal can award large settlements (TransCanada is currently suing the US for $15 billion over rejection of a permit for the Northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline). Just knowing that cases can be brought forth has a chilling effect on laws that legislatures will consider.
As if that isn’t enough, the TPP contains many provisions that multinational corporations want but have been unable to pass through Congress using the front door. Extended patent protections and other measures will raise the cost of medicines and health care. The absence of enforceable protections for workers and the environment will drive a global race to the bottom for wages and working conditions and prevent taking the necessary steps to meet the voluntary goals in the Paris climate treaty.
The TPP was signed by all twelve member countries in February of this year. It must be ratified by Congress within two years. President Obama intends to push the TPP through using fast track during the lame duck session of Congress after the elections this November. The lame duck is the most anti-democratic time because members who have lost their seats or are retiring will be looking for their next job and so will be more beholden to corporate interests than to the people. This is not the time to ratify an agreement that is so controversial, like the TPP.
Popular Resistance and allies are organizing the No Lame Duck Uprising to prevent the lame duck. This is the safest way to avoid ratification. The TPP is the biggest threat we face – bigger than climate change because it will prevent us from taking action to mitigate the climate crisis. So far almost 3,000 people have joined the No Lame Duck Uprising. They are calling and visiting their members of Congress (see FighttheTPP.org to contact your member) and will participate in direct action in Washington, DC or in their districts if the lame duck goes forward.
Here are photos from today’s march (credit Ellen Davidson):