According to Bruce Heyman, the US ambassador to Canada, outgoing President Barack Obama plans to use every day left in his term to push the Trans-Pacific partnership (TPP) through Congress. The deal has been controversial since its announcement as it was written in secret by politicians and corporate lobbyists, yet still has not been released to the public. Congress has been able to read the draft of the trade agreement, but have been threatened with jail time if they disclose its contents. Wikileaks, however, leaked some of the chapters to the public, which ultimately confirmed the worst fears of the deal’s critics. The deal, which would encompass 12 countries and 40% of the world’s economy, would weaken the national sovereignty of the countries involved, giving away much of that authority to corporations and off-shore corporate-run courts that would have the power to eliminate laws passed by any member country’s legislature.
The US’ new president-elect, Donald Trump, has vowed to bring strong opposition to the trade deal. Within his first 100 days in office, his administration plans to drop out of the TPP. He has also expressed his desire to drop out of the often-criticized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as well, but only if certain demands are met. NAFTA, passed under former President Bill Clinton’s administration, was largely responsible for the flood of illegal immigrants from Mexico that helped Trump win the presidency. Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, had previously called the TPP “the gold standard in trade agreements” though she later back-tracked from this statement and publicly opposed the deal during the Democratic primaries in order to offset criticism from the supporters of US Senator Bernie Sanders.
With Obama’s legacy trade deal gravely endangered by a Trump presidency, it is no surprise that he is seeking to pass the deal before Trump’s inauguration. Obama actually announced his final push to ram TPP through Congress in September, using a delicate alliance with Republican lawmakers to see it through. However, Obama and his unlikely bedfellows decided to wait until after the election to vote on the deal to avoid provoking attacks from Donald Trump and to avoid hurting the chances of other Republicans running for office. Obama, for his part, was also content to wait until after the election as any negative press on the TPP could have potentially caused even more problems for Hillary Clinton who struggled to convince voters of her sincerity in switching from support to opposition of the trade agreement. Based on this arrangement, the deal stands a good chance of passing as the Senate is expected to pass the deal with 55 votes, with only 50 needed for the deal’s passage.
If Obama succeeds in passing the TPP, it will only serve to further darken his already questionable legacy. Despite his celebrity status in the US media, Obama has increased domestic and global socio-economic instability and has overseen the largest weapons deals in US history despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize. If the TPP passes under his watch and with his blessing, he will then add the effectual end of US sovereignty to that list, securing his “legacy” as an abysmal president but an effective puppet of the corporate elite.
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