Saturday, 22 February 2014

Obama's TPP Negotiators Get Big Bonuses From Wall Street

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While there are plenty of reasons for constitutionalists to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), erstwhile Obama supporters on the Left are finding reasons of their own to abandon the president in his quest to impose the “trade deal.”

First, there are the environmental concessions being made by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in order to keep other partners in the pact. As reported by The New American, in a press release issued on January 15, WikiLeaks announced that they had obtained the "complete environment chapter" of the secret sovereignty-surrender documents masquerading as a multinational trade agreement.

Much of the opposition on the Left focuses on the lack of environmental protections presumed to be included in the TPP. Seems their fears are well-founded, but not for the reasons many of them may have believed.

Analysis by The New American of the pages claimed by WikiLeaks to be the full draft text of the environment chapter uncovered an "inconvenient truth" about the relationship of the TPP to the environment. 

For example, the clauses covering pollution control represent — from the leftists' point of view — a significant retreat on the issue by the trade representatives of the United States. Logging restrictions sought by the Left? America is apparently backsliding on that, too. 

No wonder the Sierra Club and the World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to expose the Obama administration's environmental hypocrisy and to keep this 11-nation trade deal from becoming "the law.” In a copy of a press release sent to The New American, leaders of both organizations mentioned various betrayals to their cause by the president and laid out a pointed indictment of the agreement.

“This peek behind the curtain reveals the absence of an ambitious 21st-century trade agreement promised by negotiating countries,” said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF). “The lack of fully-enforceable environmental safeguards means negotiators are allowing a unique opportunity to protect wildlife and support legal sustainable trade of renewable resources to slip through their fingers. these nations account for more than a quarter of global trade in fish and wood products and they have a responsibility to address trade’s impact on wildlife crime, illegal logging, and overfishing.” 

“If the environment chapter is finalized as written in this leaked document, President Obama’s environmental trade record would be worse than George W. Bush’s,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “This draft chapter falls flat on every single one of our issues — oceans, fish, wildlife, and forest protections — and in fact, rolls back on the progress made in past free trade pacts.” 

That President Obama's zeal for this "free trade agreement" trumps his "commit[ment] to the air we breathe, water we drink, and land that supports and sustains us" is the focus of a New York Times article on the WikiLeaks revelations.

Describing the unenforceable environmental regulations in previous regional trade pacts as "green window dressing," the Times lays out the case that the TPP's abandonment of an aggressive defense of the environment could be more than just presidential promise breaking, it could be illegal. The Times writes:

But in May 2007, President George W. Bush struck an environmental deal with Democrats in the Senate and the House as he sought to move a free-trade agreement with Peru through Congress. In what became known as the May 10 Agreement, Democrats got Mr. Bush to agree that all American free-trade deals would include a chapter with environmental provisions, phrased in the same legally binding language as chapters on labor, agriculture and intellectual property. The Democrats also insisted that the chapter require nations to recognize existing global environmental treaties.

Since then, every American free-trade deal has included that strong language, although all have been between the United States and only one other country. It appears to be much tougher to negotiate environmental provisions in a 12-nation agreement.

Of course, while the internationalist-minded Left is lamenting that the TPP in its current form is a toothless tiger regarding environmental regulations, constitutionalists recognize that giving the TPP fangs to enforce environmental powers would make it even more fearsome, since it would mean the United States ceding even more power to supranational authority via the TPP.

But it's more than just Obama's betrayal of his commitment to the gospel of green that has left-wing activists rebelling.

Describing the TPP as “little more than a gift to corporate interests,” Salon reported on the corporate cronyism that may be the engine driving the TPP.

Salon writes, “two officials tapped by President Obama to lead the deal’s negotiations have recently received significant bonuses from Wall Street giants.”

Quoting an earlier report published in Republic Report, the story reveals:

Many large corporations with a strong incentive to influence public policy award bonuses and other incentive pay to executives if they take jobs within the government. The site detailed the bonuses recently given by Bank of America and Citigroup to two of Obama’s elected trade officials:

Stefan Selig, a Bank of America investment banker nominated to become the Under Secretary for International Trade at the Department of Commerce, received more than $9 million in bonus pay as he was nominated to join the administration in November. The bonus pay came in addition to the $5.1 million in incentive pay awarded to Selig last year.

Michael Froman, the current U.S. Trade Representative, received over $4 million as part of multiple exit payments when he left CitiGroup to join the Obama administration. Froman told Senate Finance Committee members last summer that he donated approximately 75 percent of the $2.25 million bonus he received for his work in 2008 to charity. CitiGroup also gave Froman a $2 million payment in connection to his holdings in two investment funds, which was awarded “in recognition of [Froman's] service to Citi in various capacities since 1999.”

As if that sort of corporate quid pro quo isn’t enough to send anti-big-business leftists running for the exits, the Republic Report story chronicles the swinging-door separating Wall Street from Washington, D.C.:

CitiGroup, for instance, provides an executive contract that awards additional retirement pay upon leaving to take a “full time high level position with the U.S. government or regulatory body.” Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, the Blackstone Group, Fannie Mae, Northern Trust, and Northrop Grumman are among the other firms that offer financial rewards upon retirement for government service.

Although there’s a thick shroud of secrecy protecting the TPP agreement from the prying eyes of Americans and their elected representatives, global multi-nationals Monsanto and Walmart not only get to look at the documents, they are helping draft it. Little wonder, then, that President Obama’s loyalty to his corporate sponsors trumps his dedication to the cause of climate change.

For constitutionalists, though, the principal reasons to work hard to keep this surrender of sovereignty masquerading as a trade deal from becoming law are the subordination of American law to an unconstitutional trade agreement and the substantial step toward economic integration of the United States with countries of far lower financial standing. 

Constitutionalists also know that economic integration is the first stage of complete political integration, which in turn will lead to the de facto repeal of the Constitution and its replacement with treaties and the substitution of Congress with a body of international bureaucrats.

The TPP cannot have these bad effects on America, of course, unless Congress approves the final TPP agreement. However, if the American people do not rise up and firmly oppose the TPP — convincing Congress to tear down the globalist-erected wall of secrecy shielding insider machinations, and to ultimately reject the TPP — then an approved TPP might finish the integration — economic and political — begun by NAFTA.

And this new international entanglement may be the last straw in the already weakened broom of American sovereignty.

 

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels nationwide speaking on nullification, the Second Amendment, the surveillance state, and other constitutional issues.  Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton and he can be reached at

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