Ok, so, Bernie Sanders was more judicious in his demand to the Obama Administration that he have access to a full draft of the current Trans-Pacific Partnership deal. Still, this is extremely important because it is the very secrecy about trade deals–going back decades–that goes to the heart of our ability, as citizens, to function in a democratic society.
Sanders’ demand came yesterday in a letter to Michael Froman, the United States Trade Representative. Sanders’ letter makes some key points:
It is incomprehensible to me that the 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 as to what is in it.
It goes without saying that the American people and their elected officials have a right to know what is in this agreement before fast track is voted on.
Please also explain why you think it is appropriate that the representatives of the largest financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, media conglomerate and other major corporate interests not only have access to some of these documents, but are also playing a major role in developing many of the key provisions in it. Meanwhile, the people who will suffer the consequences of this treaty have been shut out of this process.
He gives Froman until January 16th to respond.
Of course, the importance of what is in this document is paramount. But, the idea that this whole thing is being done in secret–as all trade deals are negotiated–is outrageous.
To be clear, this is not a partisan issue. The Democratic Party’s presidents have been horrendous when it comes to secrecy on trade. Bill Clinton was the godfather of NAFTA (along with the great cheerleader for NAFTA, Robert Reich, who continues to be entirely dishonest about his role in pimping for so-called « free trade ») and the renewal of « fast track » authority in the 1990s–and he was quite happy to have it all done in secret, away from any open debate about trade and what it meant for the people.
Ripping open the secrecy around trade is the economic equivalent of the Snowden exposure of NSA spying. It’s that consequential for democracy and economic justice.