Friday, January 30, 2015

Obama Tells House Dems to "Get Informed" on the TPP, But He's the One Restricting Access to the Text

During the House Democrats' retreat in Philadelphia yesterday, Obama berated House Democrats for criticizing him on trade policy:
PHILADELPHIA – President Obama on Thursday asked wary House Democrats to hold their fire while the administration negotiates several trade deals opposed by scores of liberal lawmakers.

“Keep your powder a little dry,” he told the Democrats assembled here for an annual retreat, according to a source in the closed-door session.
"Get informed," Obama also advised, "not by reading The Huffington Post."
First of all, it's rather funny for Huffington Post blogger Barack Obama to criticize people for getting their news from the Huffington Post.

However, more importantly, the Huffington Post has done a far better job of reporting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), including publishing leaked text, than Obama has of sharing information with Congress.

David Sirota wrote about this secrecy last week in the International Business Times
Yet the actual text of the agreement remains under lock and key. That represents a significant break from the Bush administration, which in 2001 published the text of a proposed multinational trade agreement with Latin American nations.
“It is incomprehensible to me that leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP, while at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge of what’s in it,” wrote U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in a letter to Froman earlier this month.

Sanders’ office confirmed to International Business Times that congressional lawmakers are permitted to view the text of the agreement only in the Trade Representative’s office, without their own staff members or experts present. They are not allowed to take copies of the agreement back to Capitol Hill for deeper, independent evaluation.
Obama's critics did not warm to his message on trade:
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said Thursday that the current draft of the Asian pact – known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership – is a non-starter with liberals.
"As it is right now … it would be unacceptable," Schakowsky told reporters a few hours before Obama's arrival.
"None of us … oppose a trade agreement," she added. "What we want is a good and fair trade agreement. And so if the president is willing to share, and come back to the table, and we can make some changes, I think we would support that."
For a good take-down of the faulty arguments for the TPP put forth by both the president and the Chamber of Commerce, check out Campaign for America's Future's Dave Johnson's piece on the Huffington Post yesterday.

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