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The Trans-Pacific Trade Scam

A 2014 protest in Tokyo against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. (Shizuo Kambayashi / AP)

By Jim Hightower / OtherWords

A 2014 protest in Tokyo against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. (Shizuo Kambayashi / AP)

This piece originally ran on OtherWords.

Last spring, President Barack Obama got downright crabby about people criticizing the mammoth Trans-Pacific Partnership he’s trying to sell to Congress and the public.

More and more Americans are learning that the TPP would undermine America’s very sovereignty, giving multinational corporations direct access to secretive tribunals that could roll back any consumer, labor, or environmental laws that global corporate giants don’t like.

Yet an irked Obama denies that this is true: “They’re making this stuff up,” he cried. “No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.”

Perhaps he was misinformed. Perhaps he hasn’t actually read the deal he’s pushing. Or — dare we say it? — perhaps he’s lying.

In unmistakable language, the TPP does indeed create the private, corporate-run mechanism for changing our laws. Moreover, surely Obama knows that foreign corporations are already doing this indirectly.

Through little-known provisions in past trade scams, powerful corporations in other countries have pressured their governments to challenge our laws in similar tribunals.

From Canada to Malaysia, many countries have — on behalf of their corporate powers — successfully forced Congress and U.S. agencies to weaken or eliminate everything from environmental protections to consumer right-to-know laws.

In fact, this very year, Obama’s own administration has been told by the World Trade Organization that it must alter or repeal America’s laws on labeling foreign agricultural products.

This TPP flimflam would elevate profiteering corporations to the legal status of sovereign nations, empowering them to sue directly in rigged corporate courts “to force us to change our laws.” Obama knows this—and if he doesn’t, he should.

Either way, it destroys his presidential credibility and moral authority to keep pushing this giveaway of our people’s sovereignty.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, and a member of the Public Citizen board.

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