By Harold Pease, Ph. D
Many are still ignorant of the coming to fruition after a decade of numerous secret meetings, a huge trade agreement known as the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP, first initiated under George W. Bush in 2005 and now pushed by Barack Obama, “which when finished, will govern 40 percent of U.S. imports and exports” and “26 percent of the world’s trade” (“Everything you need to know about the Trans Pacific Partnership,” Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2013). It will be the law of the land for the United States and 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region without the input of a single U.S. member of Congress. This in violation of Article I, Section I of the U.S. Constitution that mandates that all legislative powers reside in the House and Senate and in no other body. It also violates Article II, Section II that gives only the Senate power of advice and consent on treaties. But reportedly Senators requesting the proposed treaty have been refused access to the secret agreement whereas privileged corporations have no problem obtaining copies.
Critics, mostly Democrats and Tea Party proponents, resent the secretive nature of the agreement’s origin. Those feeling especially threatened include: global health advocates, environmentalists, Internet activists and trade unions. “The treaty has 29 chapters, dealing with everything from financial services to telecommunications to sanitary standards for food,” demonstrating the wide variety of areas believed to be affected by it, but again, it is the secretive nature of it that is most offensive. Apparently TPP participants signed “a confidentiality agreement requiring them to share proposals only with ‘government officials and individuals who are part of the government’s domestic trade advisory process’.” That excludes you, me, the media, and Congress.
Tea Party supporters oppose the treaty primarily because it violates two of its core values: constitutional limited government and the free market. They are also bothered by its likelihood of increasing illegal immigration and view it as a giant leap in the direction of world government because it replaces national sovereignty with international sovereignty. Neocon Republicans, like the Bush’s past and present, favor such agreements. Democrats oppose it primarily because it is likely to send jobs overseas, cost consumers more, and undermine environmental protections. The Democratic Party is split on the deal with Obama decidedly for it and Senator Elizabeth Warren and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton expressing concerns over potential loss of American jobs. Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker shares the same concern over loss of American jobs. Again, both political parties abhor the secrecy and deception surrounding it.
Amplifying the concern over secrecy and deception is the president’s push for fast track status, meaning an up or down vote of both houses of congress with no debate or amendments. This is blatantly unconstitutional as it, in essence, voids them as the sole architects of law. They have a function far more worthy than merely approving or disapproving law made by benefiting corporations.
The Washington Post acknowledges that the agreement “encompass a broad range of regulatory and legal issues, making them a much more central part of foreign policy and even domestic lawmaking.” Such is curious. The Constitution requires the approval of your two U. S. Senators and your House member for every regulation upon you. There exists no language that any other individual or body—especially an international body—can perform this function. And, international law should not trump “domestic lawmaking.” You have the right to know that these three have read every rule emanating from the federal government upon you. Moreover, the admission that the TPP will influence foreign policy is interesting as only the U.S. Senate may influence foreign policy as per Article II, Section II. Giving a “more central part of foreign policy” to an international agency virtually voids the Constitution in this area and would have been thought treasonous by our Founders.
Were it not for Wikileaks who published the chapter on intellectual property in early November 2013, this and so much more would still be off limits to the media and everyone else. This chapter alone raised many questions about copyright protections and obviously this treaty, while billed as just a trade agreement, included music, film, books, the Internet and appeared to be potentially, as one critic called it, the treaty to “restrict access to knowledge.” And this is but one of 29 chapters.
International law imposed by an army of unelected bureaucrats is not freedom. The Trans Pacific Partnership siphons decision-making power from the elected to the non-elected in a foreign land and will affect every American. Any Congressman, or president, who supports such violates his oath of office “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution.