What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and How Could it Affect You - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

By now, you’ve heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. You’ve probably also heard all about the controversy swirling around it – the president is butting heads with republicans and democrats, and nobody seems to agree on whether Congress should “fast-track” the bill.

To be clear, fast-track means that Congress can pass or reject the bill, but they can’t debate its contents and they can’t amend any portion of it. All they can do is vote “Yay” or “Nay.”

Maybe if we knew what was in the bill, we’d understand the president’s urgency in getting it fast-tracked.

But that’s the problem: it’s “classified,” just like military documents are, and we’re not supposed to know what’s in it. In stark contrast to the American public, many corporate CEOs are privy to what it contains, as are some lawmakers. Lawmakers are forbidden from discussing it, though, which seems a bit troubling.

Whatever your political views, you probably place a high importance on transparency among our legislators and the bills they’re voting on. Left, right or center, most Americans want to know what’s going on in Congress, and with good reason.

Secrecy Begets Controversy

The Obama Administration continues to assure the public that the TPP is good for the American people, yet some of those who have read the agreement—including prominent democrats—openly criticize the entire agreement and are calling for it to be made public. Naturally, some parts of the document have been leaked.

“NAFTA on Steroids”

Those of us old enough to remember the North American Free Trade Agreement probably have an opinion on one side or the other. Many economists assert that NAFTA, whether intended or not, had detrimental effects on U.S. workers. While jobs were displaced to Mexico and Canada, increases in trade fell short of what was expected or promised. The TPP has been called “NAFTA on steroids,” and people are protesting it from Japan to the U.S.

Given recent history and trends, many citizens are wary of a trade agreement drafted by corporations and shrouded in secrecy. The obvious question to ask is, “If the TPP is such a great deal for the American people, why all the reticence?”

And that’s a very good question. The parts of the agreement that have been leaked so far are not particularly promising. Provisions within it that could undermine U.S. laws are equally concerning. Our collective trust in our government has reached a historic low … in fact, it is exactly that. No matter what the actual language is within this agreement, it’s the covert nature of the treaty that most people find so frustrating.

How do you feel about the TPP? Are you on-board, or are you suspicious of what it contains? What do you think about the secrecy surrounding the agreement? Share your thoughts on my Facebook page and let everyone know what you think!

Carlos Gamino