News Release

SOTU: How Trade Deal Undermines Obama’s Stated Agenda

LORI WALLACH, via Symone Sanders, ssanders at citizen.org, @PCGTW
Wallach is director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, which just put out the memo “Obama vs. Obama: The State of the Union’s Self-Defeating Trade Pitch,” which contrasts Obama’s stated goals of job creation, reduced income inequality, more affordable healthcare and better regulation of Wall Street with his call for “Fast Tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a controversial ‘trade’ deal that would undermine all of the above.” It is largely backed by establishment Democrats and establishment Republicans, while many progressives and populists in each party are opposed.

Obama on Income Inequality: “Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?” Global Trade Watch states: “An ‘economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well’ is actually the projected outcome of the TPP. A recent study finds that the TPP would spell a pay cut for all but the richest 10 percent of U.S. workers by exacerbating U.S. income inequality, just as past trade deals have done.”

Obama on the Legacy of Past Trade Deals: “Look, I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense.” Says Global Trade Watch: “Past trade deals have resulted in massive trade deficits and job loss not because the pacts’ rules have been broken, but because of the rules themselves. The TPP would double down on NAFTA’s rules — the opposite of Obama’s promise to renegotiate the unpopular pact — by expanding NAFTA’s offshoring incentives, limits on food safety standards, restrictions on financial regulation and other threats to American workers and consumers.

Obama on Internet Freedom: “I intend to protect a free and open Internet…” Global Trade Watch states: “The TPP includes rules that implicate net neutrality and that would require Internet service providers to police our Internet activity — rules similar to those in the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that was rejected as a threat to Internet freedom.”

Obama on National interests: “But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why would we let that happen?” Global Trade Watch states: “With the TPP, multinational corporations want to write the rules that would put our workers at a disadvantage and undermine our national interests. TPP rules, written behind closed doors under the advisement of hundreds of official corporate advisers, would provide benefits for firms that offshore American jobs, help pharmaceutical corporations expand monopoly patent protections that drive up medicine prices, give banks new tools to roll back Wall Street regulations, and empower foreign firms to ‘sue’ the U.S. government over health and environmental policies. Why would we let that happen?”

Wallach also wrote “SOTU Schizophrenia: Middle-Class Jobs vs. Fast Track and TPP.”

MANUEL PÉREZ-ROCHA, manuel@ips-dc.org
Associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Pérez-Rocha wrote the articles “NAFTA Pushes Many Mexicans to Migrate” and “NAFTA’s 20 Years of Unfulfilled Promises: The trade deal has become an engine of poverty in Mexico.”

DAVID BACON, dbacon at igc.org
Bacon‘s books include The Right to Stay Home: How U.S. Policy Drives Mexican Migration. He recently wrote the piece “The Workers’ Scorecard on NAFTA,” which states: “The head of the mineros, Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, was forced to flee to Canada when the government threatened to arrest him after he’d condemned an explosion in a mine belonging to one of Mexico’s wealthiest families as ‘industrial homicide.’ Meanwhile, a new mining law led to the sale of mining concessions, primarily to huge Canadian companies, covering more than one-third of Mexico’s entire territory.”

Bacon said today: “It’s more than ironic that the President acknowledges the injustice of U.S. immigration policy, and has taken measures to spare at least some people from deportation. Yet he continues to push exactly the same trade policies, in this case the Trans Pacific Partnership, that have displaced millions of people in Mexico and Central America, forcing them into migration as their only alternative for survival. We need instead an immigration policy that permanently protects people’s rights, and that ends economic policies that deepen poverty while large corporations make even greater profits.”