Dear Editor: Mr. Drew Johnson’s op-ed piece (“Jumpstart the economy with trade reform,” 8/14/14) deserves a rebuttal because what he advocates on behalf of establishment Republicans and Democrats, not to mention well-funded Washington lobbyists and a host of other internationalist insiders, is nothing short of a train wreck waiting to happen.
The reason he is advocating for Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation is in order to provide smooth passage of two key so-called Free Trade pacts: the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). This was conveniently omitted from his article.
The U.S. Constitution grants only Congress the power to regulate Commerce with foreign nations (Article I, Section 8), therefore for Congress to delegate the role of negotiating a trade deal with other nations to the Executive branch is flatly unconstitutional. The secrecy that shrouds such negotiations is also troubling as most rank and file members of Congress are not privy to the text of the trade deal during negotiations even though select business leaders with much at stake for their corporations and industries get a free pass and even help craft the fine print. Then when the negotiations are completed and the proposed Trade deal is finally brought before Congress, our Representatives are only allowed to cast a yes or no vote without the possibility of much debate or amendments. This does not sound like Congress has much of an input, if any, in regulating commerce with foreign nations other than to rubber stamp what the Executive branch and special interests have already decided upon.
As if this isn’t bad enough already, lets look now at these two proposed trade pacts. Proponents of such trade agreements argue that in order for the United States to secure a good chunk of the global market, such free trade deals are necessary especially with such trading partners as Pacific Rim nations (in the TPP) but even more so with the European Union (in the TTIP). This sounds good especially when the promise of good jobs are mentioned, as they always are, in order to sell them to the American public. This is exactly what was promised when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was passed in 1992 or the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2005. It doesn’t take a PhD in Economics to recognize that we have instead lost many good paying jobs with the rollout of NAFTA and CAFTA, the promises notwithstanding. So then who benefits?
What one must understand concerning these Free Trade deals is that (1) they are not free, and (2) they are not even all about trade! Instead they are about economic and political integration, in other words regional government. In the early stages of the European Union, a free trade bloc, the people of the member states mistakenly thought that it was all about a free and open market. However as time went on and new phases were introduced, the end result was a complete economic and political union including a common currency, the Euro, with the resulting loss of national sovereignty of the previously independent nation states. So who benefited? Proponents of centralized governmental power and control over millions upon millions of people. On a more practical level, multi-national corporations benefit to the detriment of small local businesses. Even though there is nothing wrong with a large corporation wanting to have access to foreign markets, Free Trade deals decidedly favor them as only their highly skilled team of attorneys and export compliance officers can navigate the labyrinth of regulations often times hundreds of pages in length - NAFTA for example is 700+ pages. So much for Free Trade for all.
As with any arrangement that seeks to harmonize the economies of a developed nation with that of an underdeveloped nation, or that of a free-market based system with that of a heavily socialized economy, the highly developed nation must lower their effective wages and its overall standard of living. We are seeing that right now with the engineered destruction of our once vibrant middle-class in part due to millions of manufacturing jobs lost to Free Trade deals such as NAFTA.
A net loss of jobs, lower wages and lower standard of living, a diminished middle-class, loss of small and family-owned businesses and farms, the eventual loss of our own currency and national sovereignty, the Constitution and our Bill of Rights, is this what Mr. Drew Johnson is advocating for by pushing for TPA legislation? It is precisely! Please join countless other Americans by opposing TPP/TTIP Free Trade deals by first blocking passage of TPA. While a vote on the TPA is not expected prior to the November elections, and you can probably guess why, it is most likely planned for the lame-duck session of Congress later this year. Let us start now by sharing this message with others and let us together urge Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard to vote NO on the TPA. You can be sure that special interests and other aforementioned stakeholders are already making their voices heard. I think our voices should be heard too. Don’t you?
Published: Aug. 21, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 19