Commentary: Trans-Pacific Partnership in shadows as some in Congress waffle

** As written by Michael “Vass” Vasquez for Binghamton Political Buzz **

As more and more attention is being thrust upon the 2016 presidential race, less scrutiny is being placed on what our current Representatives are doing in Congress. The problem with that is that the issues facing our nation will not wait, nor can they be resolved, without our Representatives doing their jobs. Critical to that is our oversight on what they are doing.

One example is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). A deal that may be significant to both the exports and jobs of our nation for decades to come. The deal, which has been in talks since 2008, has been under pressure for years due to the highly secretive nature of the talks. What is known is that currently China has little interest, there are concerns over intellectual property protections, and multiple organizations and political groups (including several high profile Democrats) are against the TPP.

Credit: Wall Street Journal

President Obama has recently been pushing to fast track approval of the TPP. This aggressive action has had blowback recently from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and several Conservative Republicans since 2013. Key among the concerns is the investor-state dispute settlement provision, which

“Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.”

In effect, though disputed by the Obama Administration, countries could be sued under TPP. Examples of how this has happened in the past include Eli Lilly suing Canada under NAFTA. In addition disputes would be settled by world organizations as when Ecuador was charged $2.3 billion to pay to Occidental Petroleum.

Job losses, environmental concerns, even a loss of portions of sovereignty are potentially at risky with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These are some of the reasons that a coalition of concerned citizens approached Rep. Richard Hanna of the NY 22nd Congressional District on April 24, 2015. According to one of the coalition members, John Furman of president of the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc.

“Despite promises that past controversial trade pacts would boost exports, government data show that New York’s exports to trade pact partners have actually lagged behind its exports to the rest of the world… Now that the same broken promises are being trotted out for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, New York’s workers have every reason to reject an expansion of the trade status quo.”

Rep. Richard Hanna

While the majority of Americans have yet to focus on TPP, as the daily circus of Hillary Clinton and her ever growing list of scandals fill the 30 second soundbite airways, the response by Rep. Hanna is a poster child of the problem in Congress. Rep. Hanna, via his office, stated,

” Representative Hanna is reviewing the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act…”

Rep. Hanna has been in office since 2010. Nearly as long as discussions on TPP have been on-going. Rep. Hanna was elected, and re-elected, based in part on his business experience and how it could help protect New York jobs, and those of Americans across the nation. Given these facts, the response seems to fall short.

Endless review of on-going actions by the Government that affect potentially millions of lives is an example of Congress failing the public. Constituents in New York, and across the nation, deserve answers and support for the call to open terms of the TPP to the public – rather than 4 years after the agreement has been made as wikileaks has revealed is a term of the agreement.

Transparency is not limited to presidential candidates or the Executive Office, or whatever political party is out of power. Likewise definitive answers on issues that have faced the nation for nearly a decade are part and parcel of the job that our politicians have asked for. No matter the soundbite, or the political circus of the day, constituents deserve better.

About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

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