I Hate It When the Parents Fight

It’s turned into Obama v. Warren on the TPP fight and while it might seem that this could be awkward for liberals, it’s really not. What Sen. Warren and others have said all along is that:

1. The details of the TPP negotiations are still secret so how can we judge the assertions of the President and it’s advocates?

2. Fast Track authorization would last 6 years and allows Obama and the next president to create trade pacts without Congressional approval.


The president has committed only to letting the public see this deal after Congress votes to authorize fast track. At that point it will be impossible for us to amend the agreement or to block any part of it without tanking the whole TPP. The TPP is basically done. If the president is so confident it’s a good deal, he should declassify the text and let people see it before asking Congress to tie its hands on fixing it.

Warren asserts that the TPP could weaken Wall Street reforms. Obama counters that he’d have to be pretty stupid to do that when it was such a fight to get those reforms. But he’s being a little disingenuous there because while he might not take such actions, if the next president is a Republican, they could.

The Investor-State Dispute Settlement provision “ISDP” part of TPP reminds many of one of the worst parts of NAFTA, which everybody agrees was flawed and cost the U.S. jobs. In NAFTA if a foreign business believes that a local/state or federal regulation will cost them business they can take the regulation to court and have it nullified or at least be recompensed for the moneys lost by the regulation. The ISDP could likewise be used to water down or eliminate regulations here like Dodd-Frank.

PLUM LINE: What you’re arguing is that six years of fast track, plus ISDS, could ultimately result in the weakening of financial regulations? You’re not saying ISDS itself would do that?

WARREN: Absolutely right…six years means that whatever the Obama administration has committed to won’t bind the next president. If that president wants to negotiate a trade deal that undercuts Dodd Frank, it will be very hard to stop it.

PLUM LINE: Couldn’t a Republican president simply go straight at Dodd Frank? Would this be any easier than that?

WARREN: Absolutely. Because trade will be fast tracked for six years….A direct run at Dodd Frank potentially takes 60 votes in the U.S. Senate. But doing it through trade authority needs to be done with 51 votes.

The President says “no.” All Sen. Warren says is show us the text so we can judge for ourselves. So it’s not really much of a fight, at least right now. I’ll take Warren in this one and hope that the entire agreement is released to the public before its foisted upon us.

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