Why was there no real mention of the Transpacific Partnership at DNC Debate?
On Tuesday the Democratic National Committee’s first debate aired on CNN. Featuring Democratic candidates; Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Lincoln Chaffee, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb. The debate was in fact surprisingly heavy on actual issues and less on “political fluff”, despite the lack of in depth discussions on many topics that are important to many voters.
The presentation by CNN had an initial feel of a heavy-weight boxing fight. CNN had a “pre-game hype” video positioning Hillary Clinton as “The Defending Champion” trying to hold off “The Seasoned Veteran” Bernie Sanders and even had a “pre-debate” National Anthem sung by a rock star. At this point I was all ready for another beauty pageant like showcase similar to the GOP debates of the summer.
The moderator Anderson Cooper did his job to try and stir the debate away from nuance discussions on issues such as the economy, racial tensions and foreign policy. The candidates for the most part were able to clarify their positions on substantive issues but a real attempt to contrast the positions of the two front runners; Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did not happen.
Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton did spar briefly on the differences between what Bernie Sanders calls “democratic socialism” and “capitalism” as well as what would be the best method of dealing with the largest financial institutions that many would agree need more regulation. Clinton’s position is that government should regulate Wall Street more aggressively while Sanders approach was to simply break up the banks.
Wall Street speculation is one of the most pressing issues of our time but CNN missed an opportunity to not only clearly define the space between Clinton and Sanders but the differing philosophies in general in regards to free trade, monopolistic tendencies of corporations and our global economic position by ignoring for the most part the looming Transpacific Partnership.
The only mention of the TPP came when a question was poised to the former first lady on if she has a history of being a “flip flopper”. Clinton has changed positions on issues such as the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Transpacific Partnership. The moderators choose at that moment to pivot to Bernie’s record on gun control and “socialism”.
The TPP was recently approved by a delegation of 12 nations and is now awaiting congressional approval before it will become law. The agreement includes the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Authors of the deal say it will cut trade barriers, set labor standards, and protect multinational corporations.
Proponents of the TPP and The Obama administration claim that the deal will increase jobs, wages and stimulate the economy. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state helped to Sheppard the TPP through the process of ratification and is on record of supporting the deal up until recently.
Opponents including Bernie Sanders however point to the history of past global trade deals such as NAFTA, as well as leaked drafts of the TPP that many journalists, labor specialists and attorneys have said will do the opposite of what has been promoted.
The TPP will make changes to Intellectual property law this would threaten a rise in prices of generic pharmaceuticals and potentially end net neutrality.
The agreement also offers incentives for off shoring of jobs but and has no protections for countries to place barriers on corporations when they want to leave to cheaper labor markets. Among the most dangerous provision of this deal is the Investor State Dispute provisions allows corporations to sue in the World Court a state or a country if a law or regulation is passed that may limit the profits of a corporation.
Senator Sanders sees the TPP as expansion NAFTA which he believes is one of the major reasons why millions of American jobs have been shipped overseas since 1994, exasperating American unemployment.
Last week Hillary Clinton came out in opposition to the Transpacific Partnership Agreement, however many observers wonder if she is only pandering to the base of the Democratic Party who are for the most part in strong opposition to the deal. While in contrast Bernie Sanders has voted against International trade deals in the past including North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); which was passed by Bill Clinton in 1991. Many believe it was Sanders who has forced Clinton to come out against the TPP but critics say she has left herself enough room to change her mind on the deal if she were to take The White House.
Cooper and the other moderators missed a chance to really flesh out both candidates as well as the O’Malley, Chaffee and Webb’s positions on the TPP and trade in general. Before the debate CNN promoted that thousands of Facebook users sent in video questions however only two were used. I am sure that at least one question was related to the potential dangers of the TPP.
It is obvious that CNN choose not to have an in-depth discussion on free trade and the TPP, my question is why? The answer for me is the corporate interests. During the debate an ad aired from Citibank promoting international investment in Africa and other places then shortly after another commercial ran from consultation business for mergers and acquisitions. The commercials were aimed at the donor class not at mainstream America. Aside from two political movies “Suffragette” and “Our Brand in Crisis” none of the other ads was selling anything an average person would have interest or ability to engage in.
This is precisely why we must move to public funding of elections and get money out of politics. Although the debate did begin the conversation of many bedrock issues such as Healthcare, Campaign Finance, Income Inequality, BlacklivesMatter, police brutality and the economy. The fact that the most important trade agreement was not discussed proves that the “powers that be” are able in many ways to limit the scope and parameters of the political discourse in this country.
If the American people are fully engaged and understand what the TPP is all about they will force congress not to ratify the deal. The DNC debate was limited to future policy changes and not current ones and that to me is a shame.
(VIDEO) Ed Shultz asked why TPP was barely mentioned
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