Every bit of opposition to passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement helps, and the Pittsfield City Council did its part last week with unanimous approval of a petition against the TPP.
The petition, brought by Councilors John Krol and Peter White, urges the state's congressional delegation to oppose the deal and other similar deals that may come forward. We strongly urge First District Congressman Richard Neal of Springfield to note the resolution and the arguments in support of it.
President Obama and other TPP advocates have complained that critics aren't specific enough in their objections, a complaint that is disingenuous to say the least given that the secrecy cloaking the process of crafting the TPP has prevented anyone outside of the inner circle from learning the specifics. It is also unfair to tar critics, in particular labor unions, as protectionists. Everyone wants international trade, but there should be measures that discourage corporations from moving jobs overseas and devastating American communities, as happened in the aftermath of the NAFTA passage.
City Councilor Nicholas Caccamo observed Tuesday that the TPP is thought to include a provision enabling foreign governments to sue the US if, for example, they object to rejection of the Keystone Pipeline. Foreign governments can't be welcomed to entangle our government with lawsuits over public policy. Councilor Krol raised the specter of passages weakening health safety and environmental protection in the mystery deal. Councilor Kevin Morandi pointed to the major loss of industrial jobs in the Berkshires as a cautionary tale about the potential danger of the TPP.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat and an early and vocal opponent of passage of the TPP, last year introduced the Trade Transparency Act requiring that the text of any trade agreement be released 60 days before Congress is asked to provide it with fast-track authority for approval so the public, press and experts could assess it. This law, an entirely fair and logical one in a democracy that prides itself on its alleged openness, was shot down by majority Republicans, leaving us where we are today.
The secrecy surrounding the agreement, and the alarming nature of the leaked provisions, create a situation Councilor White accurately describes as "scary." If the TPP's advocates are fearful of telling Americans what is in the agreement then our elected officials should not vote to support it in the months ahead.