This Just In: Hillary Clinton Is Opposed to a Critical Piece of the Obama Administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal

9147K0hpBnL._SL1500_By Elaine Magliaro

Zach Carter, Amanda Terkel, and Ryan Grim of Huffington Post reported today that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is opposed to a critical part of the Obama administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), “which would give corporations the right to sue sovereign nations over laws or regulations that could potentially curb their profits.” They said that her policy position is included in her book Hard Choices. Carter, Terkel, and Grim said it “was confirmed to HuffPost by a spokesperson for her presidential campaign.”

The three authors of the HuffPo article noted that Obama and congressional Democrats have been “locked in a bitter public feud over TPP — a deal between 12 Pacific nations — with much of the controversy derived from concerns it will undermine regulatory standards.”

They included the following excerpt from Clinton’s book Hard Choices in their HuffPo piece:

Currently the United States is negotiating comprehensive agreements with eleven countries in Asia and in North and South America, and with the European Union. We should be focused on ending currency manipulation, environmental destruction, and miserable working conditions in developing countries, as well as harmonizing regulations with the EU. And we should avoid some of the provisions sought by business interests, including our own, like giving them or their investors the power to sue foreign governments to weaken their environmental and public health rules, as Philip Morris is already trying to do in Australia. The United States should be advocating a level and fair playing field, not special favors. (Emphasis added.)

Carter, Terkel, and Grim:

Obama’s TPP deal would be enforced by a process known as “investor-state dispute settlement,” which allows foreign companies to attack domestic laws or regulations before an international tribunal if they believe those rules unfairly curb investment returns. Those tribunals can’t directly overturn laws, but they can impose hefty fines on the countries they rule against.

Financial watchdogs and environmental activists are particularly concerned the process will be used to stymie future rulemaking with the threat of international fines. Congress often considers trade commitments when debating domestic legislation, at times diluting or derailing it. Foreign countries have halted anti-smoking rules over ISDS lawsuits.

Obama has vigorously defended ISDS against criticism from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and others, insisting it is necessary to protect American companies abroad.

Last week, Obama told reporters, “In a lot of countries, U.S. companies are discriminated against, and going through their court system would not give them relief. The notion that corporate America is going to be able to use this provision to eliminate our financial regulations and our food safety regulations and our consumer regulations — that’s just bunk. It’s not true.”

Carter, Terkel, and Grim said the Australian case that Clinton referenced in her book…is instructive. They explained, “The Australian government enacted legislation that would require tobacco products be sold only with plain, simple packaging that includes health warnings — labeling the tobacco companies objected to. Philip Morris Asia is suing Australia under a different free trade pact, using a similar ISDS provision, arguing that the Australian law is cutting into its profit. It’s easy to see how laws in, say, New York City, would be similarly targeted.”

Carter, Terkel, and Grim continued by saying “environmental watchdogs are concerned corporations will use TPP to undermine environmental protections abroad.” They added that although “ISDS provisions have existed for a long time, companies didn’t really take advantage of them until the 21st century. As Warren noted in an op-ed for The Washington Post, less than 100 ISDS cases were initiated between 1959 and 2002, while 58 were filed in 2012 alone. Warren and others are not only worried the U.S. might lose ISDS cases, but that expanding the ISDS regime will prevent governments from enacting future regulations.”


Hillary Clinton Agrees With Elizabeth Warren On Trade Dispute With Obama (Huffington Post)


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10 Responses to This Just In: Hillary Clinton Is Opposed to a Critical Piece of the Obama Administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal

  1. swarthmoremom says:

    In a stern rebuke to President Barack Obama, Senate Democrats rebelled against his trade initiative on Tuesday afternoon and voted against even opening debate on the bill.

    Democrats have demanded additional worker protections before they would consider voting to approve fast-track trade powers for the president. Shortly ahead of the vote, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) rejected the demands, insisting he would not make any guarantees beyond a vote on the fast-track bill.

    The ensuing Democratic filibuster sank the legislation on the Senate floor, 52-45, with 60 needed to pass. Trade proponents in both parties vowed to try to put the pieces back together, but with little more than a week before a Memorial Day recess and several expiring laws still to be addressed, the immediate future of Obama’s trade agenda is uncertain.

    Read more:

  2. blouise says:

    Elizabeth Warren had quite a bit to do with this as did Sherrod Brown who publicly rebuked Obama for his disrespectful behavior towards Warren. Right now Obama is having more trouble with democrats than republicans

  3. Elaine M. says:

    I think Obama made a big mistake going after Elizabeth Warren.


    Could Fast Track Ultimately Destroy Dodd-Frank? (Yes.)
    George Zornick on May 12, 2015

    Senator Elizabeth Warren opened up a new battle in the war against the Obama administration’s trade policy last week, when she charged that the fast-track trade authority now being considered by Congress could ultimately allow a Republican president to gut many of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms.

    This provoked a heated response from the White House and its allies, who not only disputed Warren’s claim but bizarrely (and under the cover of anonymity) suggested she was just trying to juice up the Draft Warren presidential movement.

    So who’s right? This is an important question to litigate, as the Senate prepares to vote on fast-track authority Tuesday.

    The short answer: Warren. All it would take is a Republican president and Congress (or any president and Congress inclined to weaken financial regulations), and indeed fast-track authority could be used as a glide path to dismantle not only Dodd-Frank but potentially other important regulations as well.

  4. bigfatmike says:

    ” The fast-track legislation now up for a vote in Congress says that for the next six years, any trade deal proposed by an administration cannot be amended. The deals also cannot be filibustered in the Senate, and would pass with a simple-majority vote.”

    It seems to me that in addition to the very serious questions regarding TPP we must also consider the wisdom of Fast Track itself.

    Does anyone care to argue that we should grant Fast Track authority to the next president and any trade legislation that comes down the pike over the next 6 years? I think not!

    In an interview with Mat Bai, Obama, basically, asked us to decide if we trust him or Elizabeth Warren on TPP. Did they have to call the first dentist to help remove the shoe from Obama’s mouth?

    So, who do you trust to protect your interest in TPP – Obama or Elizabeth Warren?

    If Obama is right and Warren is misleading us on TPP then why not just let us read the text of proposed TPP. That ought to settle the question of who is misleading whom.

    What is wrong with that Obama?

  5. “Mr. President, there’s a Mr. Petard here to see you. He said you weren’t expecting him, but that you should have.”

  6. bigfatmike says:

    Over at Salon David Dayen has “The 10 biggest lies you’ve been told about the Trans-Pacific Partnership”.

    Usually I hate this kind of article because there is always something that is wrong or misleading. But this one is pretty good. It covers a lot of ground and gets it mostly (as far as I can tell) right.

    I particularly liked the way Dayen takes down administration claims about increased exports due to TPP. The fact is increased exports are meaningless without taking into consideration changes in imports – which recent articles by administration shills have totally ignored.

    Here then for you own review is Dayen’s number 3:

    “3. EXPORTS ONLY: The Administration constantly discusses trade as solely a question of U.S. exports. A recent Council of Economic Advisors report touts: Exporters pay higher wages, and export industry growth translates into higher average earnings. But the Economic Policy Institute points out that this ignores imports, and therefore the ballooning trade deficit, which weighs down economic growth and wages. Talking about trade without discussing both imports and exports is like relaying the score of a ballgame by saying “Dodgers 4.” It is literally a half-truth. Recent trade deals have in fact increased the trade deficit, such as the agreement with South Korea. Senator Sherrod Brown notes that the deal has only increased exports by $1 billion since 2011, while increasing imports by $12 billion, costing America 75,000 jobs.”

  7. Elaine M. says:

    An Open Letter to Progressives: TPP Is Not Yet ‘The Most Progressive Trade Agreement in History’
    Rep. Sandy Levin
    Posted: 05/11/2015

    Eight years ago, Charlie Rangel and I worked with our House Democratic colleagues to co-author what became known as the “May 10th Agreement” on labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. For the first time, fully enforceable labor and environmental standards would be placed into our trade agreements on equal footing with every other commercial provision. May 10th also included important provisions on medicines, investment, and government procurement. U.S. trade agreements with Peru, Panama, Colombia, and Korea were re-negotiated to include May 10th.

    After decades of leading the fight to include worker rights provisions in trade agreements, I considered at the time, and still do today, May 10th to be a major breakthrough. House Democrats brought about these historic changes, so we have some standing to evaluate their implementation.

    So I have deep concern — and some dismay — when the president says that “we are just wrong,” or we are “satisfied with the status quo,” or worse, we are “making this stuff up” when we express concerns about the status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations.

    House Democrats know a progressive trade agreement when we see it because we are the ones who built the foundation. We think the TPP agreement, as it stands today, falls short of what is needed. And we don’t want to give up our leverage by granting “fast-track” authority until we know that TPP is on the right track.

    Since the May 10th provisions are the basis for which the administration declares TPP to be “the most progressive trade agreement in history,” let me give you a few examples of how TPP is still falling short:

    In the case of our trade agreements with Peru, Panama, and Colombia, their labor laws were changed to come into compliance with International Labor Organization (ILO) standards before the Congress voted. I know this because we negotiated directly with the countries on the provisions that fell short of international standards. Charlie Rangel, Allyson Schwartz, and I traveled to Peru in the summer before Congress voted to acknowledge the fact that they had brought their laws into compliance. I remember vividly Peruvian President Garcia calling this a “New Deal” for trade agreements. We have no such assurance with Vietnam or Mexico in regards to TPP.

    Vietnam is different. It is a command economy where the only labor union is an organ of the communist Party. It is naïve not to acknowledge that allowing workers to organize and form independent unions — freedom of association, a central and basic international right — is in direct opposition to the Vietnam regime and will therefore be very difficult to make real. On a recent trip to Vietnam, I met a woman who had been thrown in jail for four years for trying to organize workers. We cannot simply have the right written obligation in the Agreement and expect that some future dispute settlement panel is going to ensure meaningful changes on the ground for workers. The administration refuses to make available to Members of Congress the recent “consistency plan” they are discussing with Vietnam so that we can evaluate the changes to Vietnamese laws and practices they are seeking. But, from what I understand, the plan will fall far short of bringing Vietnam into compliance with basic ILO standards, as required under the May 10th Agreement. For example, the plan will not explicitly provide that Vietnam must allow industry-wide unions to form — because Vietnam refuses to acknowledge that fundamental right. Our negotiators also refused to accept our suggestion that an independent panel be established from the beginning to ensure compliance with the labor obligations and expedite a dispute. Without such a structure, future cases will need to be built from scratch by outside groups and submitted to the U.S. government, a process which has taken several years for the Department of Labor to act on in Honduras and Guatemala. The president said recently that Vietnam “would even have to protect workers’ freedom to form unions — for the first time.” But the TPP that USTR is negotiating is far from ensuring that those words are real.

  8. Elaine M. says:

    Dem rep. warns on Obama’s trade deal: ‘If you lose your job, less expensive shoes don’t help much’

  9. swarthmoremom says: “After more than six years battling Republicans on everything from his signature health care legislation to simply keeping the government open, Mr. Obama is at odds with his own party as he seeks a legislative capstone to his presidency.

    But Tuesday’s setback also highlighted a problem that has vexed Mr. Obama for most of his tenure in office: his difficulties with Congress. This time he is criticizing Democrats whose votes he now needs.

    The president “has made this more personal than he needed to,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, after the 52-45 vote.

    Mr. Obama has said Democrats have been spreading disinformation about the Pacific trade accord and the authority he is seeking, singling out Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for her role in opposing the accord.

    Only one Democrat, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, joined Republicans to support debating and voting on legislation that would give Mr. Obama authority to pursue the most sweeping trade accord since the North American Free Trade Agreement more than 20 years ago, and the procedural vote fell eight short of the 60 needed.”

  10. bettykath says:

    Oh, boy. The “need” for NAFTA and GATT brought us Democrat Clinton, who could twist the right arms, over Bush who couldn’t. Now there is a setup that will favor Bush over Clinton for another abomination of a trade bill.

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