NEW YORK – Already opposed by a majority of Democrats in Congress, President Obama’s controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership faces another hurdle with the disclosure of donations to the Bill and Hillary Clinton Foundation by nations and multinational corporations that back the treaty.
As much as $21 million has been donated to the foundation by companies that have signed onto the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP, according to the Washington Free Beacon. In addition, unspecified millions have been contributed by Australia, Brunei and Canada, three of the 12 nations expected to sign the TPP.
Meanwhile, Wikileaks is preparing to leak provisions of the secret trade deal while unions curry opposition from Democrats in Congress.
The Obama administration, nevertheless, is set to propose a flurry of international free trade agreements to Congress.
On a White House conference call Thursday as President Obama prepared to fly to Germany for the G7 summit, Caroline Atkinson, deputy national security advisor for international economics, emphasized the importance of getting trade legislation passed.
Atkinson referenced not only TPP but the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, known as TTIP, which is expected to be ready for congressional consideration next year. She neglected, however, to mention that waiting in the wings is the little known Trade in Services Agreement, TISA, that the Obama administration is separately negotiating with the EU and 23 other nations.
“Around the table in the G7, you have the EU and the four largest European economy countries with whom we’re engaging on TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations,” Atkinson told reporters.
“And then Canada and Japan – two large and important countries with whom we have been discussing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP,” she said.
“And more generally, we’re able, in this forum … to discuss the importance of moving forward on other agenda items on trade, such as the trade facilitation agreement that was finally reached last year, where we have already ratified this – and others need to – and other aspects that are important for the U.S. economy on information technology agreements and other areas,” she continued
Along with labor unions, among the opponents of the TPP free-trade agreement are prominent Democrats, including Minority Leader Harry Reid in the Senate, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and a Hillary Clinton rival in the Senate, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Under fast-track authority, there is no provision for Congress to modify the agreement by submitting amendments. Fast-track authority also treats a free-trade agreement as if it were trade legislation being negotiated by the executive branch, not as a treaty that would require a two-thirds vote from the Senate.
The 12 nations in the TPP agreement are the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile and Peru. Notably, China is not currently a party.
To complicate matters, Wikileaks this week has begun threatening to release, perhaps as early as next week, the full text of the TPP agreement. Wikileaks head Julian Assange claims only five of 29 TPP chapters pertain to trade.
The TPP “Investment Chapter” that Wikileaks released this week calls for the creation of “investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals that would allow multi-national corporations to trump U.S. law and courts.
The 17 secret TISA documents Wikileaks also released this week show extensive “private data” on U.S. citizens will now be available under TISA protocols to the European Union and countries that are parties to TISA.
None of the agreements in the highly confusing array of different free trade deals being pushed by the Obama administration is yet final.
House Speaker John Boehner is preparing to repeat for the House the process of approving “fast-track authority” for the TPP that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just completed in the Senate.
Uphill battle for Democrats
Will Hillary Clinton support Obama on the TPP, as she did as secretary of state while the deal was being negotiated? Or will she side with the Democrats in Congress likely to oppose it?
Whether or not the White House lobbies for Hillary’s support of TPP fast-track authority in the House depends on whether or not there are any more shoes to fall in the continuing scandals over donations to the Clinton Foundation from nations pushing for one or more of the free trade agreements the Obama administration is trying to complete before leaving office.
For the Democrats, the uphill battle has a long history.
In 2013, 151 House Democrats opposed to TPP wrote a letter to President Obama stating their opposition to using “outdated ‘fast track’ procedures that usurp Congress’s authority over trade matters.”
Last year, WND reported an impressive group of 564 labor, environmental, family farm and community organizations regarded as core elements of the Democratic Party’s voting base sent Obama a strongly worded letter charging TPP undermines the president’s message on income inequality.
For the past two years, WND has reported the Obama administration plan to obtain fast-track authority to push the TPP through Congress is a prelude to passing the counterpart TTIP the Obama administration is currently negotiating with the EU.
The two-ocean globalist plan was openly referenced by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address. He declared his intent to complete negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership and announced the launch of talks “on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union.”
In May, CBS published a “Top Ten Questions for Hillary” that included: “Do you support the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)?”
Warren, leading the opposition to the TPP from within the left-wing of the Democratic Party has been sharply critical of Clinton for keeping largely silent on the trade agreement while Obama presses to get fast-track authority.
Clinton, trying to sidestep one of the few questions she was asked in her brief press availability in Cedar Falls, Iowa, last month, said when asked about the TPP that the trade deal is “a very hot topic right now,” adding that it “hasn’t been fully negotiated.”
Clinton insisted she “wanted to judge the final agreement,” pointing to a section in her book “Hard Choices” that criticized an international trade dispute procedure that “gives corporations more power to overturn health, labor and environmental rules than consumers have.”
On pages 77-78 of “Hard Choices,” Clinton was generally supportive of the TPP.
“As President Obama explained, the goal of the TPP negotiations is to establish ‘a high standard, enforceable, meaningful trade agreement’ that ‘is going to be incredibly powerful for American companies who, up to this point, have often been locked out of those markets,'” she wrote. “It is also important for American workers, who would benefit form competing on a more level playing field. And it was a strategic initiative that would strengthen the position of the United States in Asia.”
Noting she wanted to reserve judgment while the TPP was still being negotiated, Clinton added, “It’s safe to say that while the TPP won’t be perfect – no deal negotiated among a dozen countries ever will be – but its higher standards, if implemented and enforced, should benefit American businesses and workers.”
Arguing against Clinton on the Senate floor, Warren noted that Hillary appeared to be against the TPP’s investor-state dispute settlement provisions, which allow corporations to take cases to corporate-friendly arbitration panels whose authority supersedes U.S. courts. The corporations would be able to challenge U.S. laws they believe harm their business opportunities under TPP.
“Under TPP, corporations can use these channels to challenge rules right here in America,” Warren said in her Senate floor speech.
Even if Clinton can get past Warren, she is next going to have to take on Teamster boss James Hoffa, should she decide to side with Obama.
“Leaders in the House and Senate, buoyed by their friends in big business, are moving forward with pushing fast-track trade promotion legislation that would allow secret trade pacts to sail through Congress with no chance to alter them,” Hoffa noted in a press statement released in April.
“That’s bad for American workers as well as their families,” Hoffa continued. “Here in the U.S., thousands of jobs would be shipped overseas to places like Vietnam that pay workers less than $3 a day. It would be a continuation of the gutting of the middle class that began under NAFTA.”
Hillary’s $2.7 million speeches
On May 18, the day before producing the list of 10 questions for Hillary, CBS News reported that since leaving her position as secretary of state, she has earned millions of dollars delivering 41 paid speeches in the United States to a variety of companies and organizations, at least 10 of which have been lobbying Congress and federal agencies to support the Obama free-trade agreements, including TPP.
CBS further reported that according to disclosures from Hillary’s presidential campaign, the former secretary of state earned at least $2.7 million from speeches at companies backing fast-track authority.