April 24, 2015
By David Korten
In an interview on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that aired Tuesday night, President Obama said, “I would not be doing this trade deal if I did not think it was good for the middle class. And when you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is, when you dig into the facts they are wrong.” Here is my response to President Obama.
President Obama: If this agreement is truly different from previous trade agreements, let us see the documents and point out to us exactly where the wording differs. Why should I believe your “facts” you resolutely refuse to let me see? The facts I have are from the only document available to me, the draft Investment chapter leaked by WikiLeaks. As I have written in an article published by YES! Magazine, the facts of that chapter affirm the claims of the agreements strongest critics. [See “A Trade Rule that Makes It Illegal to Favor Local Business? Newest Leak Show TPP Would Do That and More“.]
You fielded Michael Froman as your trade representative to negotiate this agreement. Froman served as chief of staff to Robert Rubin during the years in which Rubin, as Secretary of the Treasury, was setting up Congress to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act. That repeal allowed Wall Street to unleash the mortgage derivative crisis that crashed the economy in 2008. For his role, Froman was subsequently rewarded with a top management position at Citigroup.
This is not the record of an individual most of us would select to represent the United States in trade negotiations intended to rein in corporations in favor of strong worker and environmental protections.
Your 2015 State of the Union address spelled out your commitment to equality and the environment as your priorities for the rest of your term. It has since become clear that your real priority is to push through Congress an international agreement negotiated by and for transnational corporations that will not only make it far harder to address equality and environmental protection, it will put the final nail in the coffin of democracy and take to the next level the decimation of the American middle class. If the TPP passes, this deception will be the legacy for which future generations will remember your presidency.