As we move closer to a House vote on fast-tracking an unholy trinity of super-secret trade agreements — the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Trade in Service Agreement (TISA), and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), collectively referred to as ObamaTrade — the party line is that there really is nothing to hide in these agreements, despite the fact that these treaties are still being kept very much under wraps. In fact, the secret TISA and TTIP agreements have not been made available for even members of Congress to view them. And the TPP agreement may be seen only by members of Congress who view them in a secret room and agree not to dilvulge the contents.
But of course the plan is to make the TPP and other parts of ObamaTrade public prior to a congressional vote, right? Wrong! And in a classic Freudian slip, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Paul Ryan let the cat out of the bag.
Ryan made his admission against interest in the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, in response to a question from Representative Michael Burgess (R-Texas) about the secret nature of the bills. Burgess began his question by saying, "I appreciate all of that but again, you read through this language down in the secret room and I welcome the day when people can read it —." But before he could finish, Ryan cut him off to say, "By the way, TPA [Trade Promotion Authority, aka Fast Track] — it's declassified and made public once it's agreed to." The uncharacteristically candid statement by the darling of the neo-conservative establishment reminded many of then-Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi's infamous quote about ObamaCare, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."
Even as he finished his interrupted question, Burgess shed more light on the level of secrecy surrounding these so-called trade agreements.
The language as its written looks to me as if it is something that could be exploited. I appreciate all the safeguards you've tried to put in place.
And with this administration you can leave no stone unturned as far as putting in safeguards but I'm not convinced that we—again I can't get into the specifics of what I've read because of the agreement that I signed downstairs but it concerns me and I'll just leave it at that.
After making that statement, Burgess yielded his time.
It is a sad day when a legislator "can't get into the specifics of what [he has] read" that causes him "concern" "because of the agreement that [he] signed downstairs."
The reasons to be "concerned" about this legislation are legion, but not the least of them is the super secrecy that Ryan was attempting to deny — as he has done time and again — when he admitted that it will only become "declassified and made public once it's agreed to."
As Breitbart.com noted:
Right now, TiSA and T-TIP text are completely secretive and unavailable for even members of Congress to read while TPP text is available for members to review—although they need to go to a secret room inside the Capitol where only members of Congress and certain staffers high-level security clearances, who can only go when members are present, can read the bill.
What needs to be done instead of passing these agreements is to reject them and then pass legislation to declassify them once they are dead. Then the American people can see "what is in them" without having to pay the price for buying yet another pig in a poke.