President Obama says the U.S. and the world’s largest Muslim country will merge their economies under an agreement whose terms have not been disclosed to Congress or the public.
After Obama met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the White House Monday, Widodo said, “Indonesia intends to join the TPP,” referring to the TransPacific Partnership.
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world with 250 million people. Obama attended elementary school in the country.
“I have a very personal interest in Indonesia given the fact that I spent time there as a child and have relatives who are Indonesian,” Obama said.
The TPP is a sweeping global regulatory pact. It establishes an international authority that will write rules for merging the U.S. economy with other countries in the partnership.
The administration reached an agreement on the TPP with 11 countries on four continents after negotiations that lasted more than five years. Indonesia was not involved in the negotiations.
But neither Congress nor the public have been allowed to see the final agreement the administration has negotiated. The president has not released the text of the agreement or the numerous side agreements attached to the TPP.
The administration describes the TPP as a “living agreement” that will be updated and which other countries can join in the future.
China, South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan also have expressed interest in joining the TPP economic union.
But it appears the U.S. Congress will not have any say in the matter.
Earlier this year, Congress granted the president “fast track” trade promotion authority to negotiate the TPP and surrendered its ability to change whatever agreement the president proposes.
An amendment to the fast track bill would have required congressional approval before China could join the TPP. But the amendment, opposed by GOP leadership and the president, was defeated.
The unilateral move by the president to bring Indonesia into the TPP confirms charges by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., that Congress will have no role in approving changes as the partnership grows.
Sessions read the draft of the TPP agreement earlier this year and described it as “a nascent European Union.”
Like the European Union, the Transpacific Partnership calls for the free flow of people, goods and capital among member countries.
“It’s going to put us in an international commission that allows the sultan of Brunei to have the same vote as the president of the United States,” Sessions said.
Sessions is referring to the TransPacific Partnership Commission, a governing authority created under the agreement, similar to the European Commission that oversees the European Union.
This shadowy trans-Pacific body would have vast regulatory powers the details of which the president has refused to disclose to either Congress or the public.
But it appears the president has revealed details to Indonesia and other countries it hopes to enlist in the pact.
While Obama refuses to show the public the TPP agreement, the president and his surrogates are out selling the pact with a series of speeches and op-eds.
Poll after poll shows the majority of Americans across the political spectrum oppose the TPP.
All the leading presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, oppose the agreement.
Politico reports Republican leaders in the House and Senate want to vote on the TransPacific Partnership in a lame-duck session of Congress after the November 2016 general election.
“If it’s such a good deal, then why do they want to keep the American people from having an influence on it?” Sessions asked. “Why don’t they bring it up during the election [campaign] so people can vote and evaluate their representatives on how they vote?”
Workers in Indonesia earn as little $2.50 a day.