TPP: We Need Some Trust-but-Verify

“Trust me — it’s going to be a good thing for everyone. It’s one of the strongest trade agreements ever.

Just trust me.”

President Obama’s message on the Trans-Pacific Pact, the secret trade agreement affecting 40% of the world’s commerce, is beginning to ring pretty hollow. As pointed out by Senator Warren in her staff report “Broken Promises,” the same statements have been made about every so-called “free trade” agreement for the past 20 years.

trust meAnd as Warren and others have repeatedly said back to the President: If this is such a great trade agreement, put it out there. Share it will the American people, and let the people see for themselves. Fast-track it if you want, with only an up-or-down vote with no amendments; we’re capable of weighing the pros and cons and deciding if the overall agreement is worth doing.

But this thing of “just trust me” is a non-starter. From the invasion of Iraq to NSA surveillance to drone strikes to the Patriot Act, we’ve been told that there were facts and factors that leaders knew but couldn’t share, and we could trust them to do the right thing. And in almost every case, the secrecy made the end result worse.

Are there times and places when government work must be done in secret? Of course. Negotiations can be one of those times, and negotiating a major trade pact would certainly require confidentiality.

BUT — when a majority of those who HAVE seen the bill describe it in negative terms, and when leaked portions raise alarming flags about corporations having more power than the laws of the participating nations, it is time for the secrecy to end, and for the transparency to begin.

It’s time for some good old trust-but-verify for the TPP.

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What do YOU think? What worries you most about TPP?