By Robert Romano
Pee-yew. Or better yet, PU — a Pacific Union — is the number one reason to oppose the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, warns U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
“This new structure is known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission — a Pacific Union — which meets, appoints unelected bureaucrats, adopts rules, and changes the agreement after adoption,” said Sessions in a Nov. 5 statement describing the 5,554-page trade agreement.
Here, Sessions is referencing Article 27 of the TPP, entitled, “Administrative and Institutional Provisions,” that establishes the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission that will have the power to promulgate rules pursuant to the agreement, implement those rules, and interpret those rules.
That will be legislative, executive, and judicial powers all wrapped into an unaccountable, multinational commission styled after the European Commission — with no separation of powers whatsoever.
And the commission will be implementing the largest trade agreement in history regulating about 40 percent of the global economy.
In other words, the trade deal stinks. Sessions is right.
As Americans for Limited Government President (ALG) Rick Manning described it in a statement, the TPP, “will continue to outsource American jobs overseas, fail to do anything about currency manipulation, and once adopted, will create an international, unelected commission with broad authority to implement and interpret the agreement without any votes of Congress.”
“These regulatory and judicial powers of the commission will be akin to rogue agencies and activist courts in the U.S., that regularly issue edicts contrary to the law passed by elected representatives,” Manning added.
Why would Congress vote to weaken the economy that already has trouble competing globally because of the high cost of doing business in the U.S., and create an international commission to oversee it?
Another problem, Manning noted, is that even when it comes to amending the agreement or allowing other countries to opt into the agreement, it is not very clear whether that will require votes of Congress.
Said Manning, “While the U.S. Trade Representative provided a chapter summary on its final provisions that it would take votes of Congress to amend the agreement and to allow other countries to dock into the agreement, the text of the agreement is not nearly so explicit, leaving significant concerns about how the trade agreement will function and whether U.S. representative democracy will be meaningful in its wake.”
Manning said Obama needs to go back to the drawing board before anything is approved, saying, “Before any agreement is ratified, the language must be much stronger to make the need for Congress’ approval clear. A chapter summary is not the agreement itself. The danger of a runaway commission is too great for this to be ignored.”
As it stands, President Barack Obama has signaled to Congress that he will be signing the agreement as required under the Trade Act of 2015 that provides for the trade agreement’s consideration. The law requires that Obama notify Congress at least 90 days prior to signing it.
Meaning, Obama could be signing the agreement as soon as early February, right in the heart of the first in the nation presidential primaries and caucuses.
After Obama signs the agreement, then he has 60 days to provide Congress with a list of required changes to U.S. law to implement the agreement.
And, then Congress must consider the agreement on and up or down basis. Members will either take or leave it. They should leave it.
After all, the last thing we need is an unelected, supranational commission regulating the U.S. economy from afar without any votes in Congress to implement a trade agreement that appears on its surface to weaken U.S. competitiveness globally.
As ALG’s Manning noted, “since Congress is forbidden from amending the agreement under terms of the fast track trade authority granted President Obama earlier this year, and the agreement will not be fixed later, the only recourse for members who share this concern is to simply vote no.”
Or else, members of Congress might find out that the trade deal is not the only thing that stinks — so will their poll numbers headed into the 2016 elections.
Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.