web analytics

Obama’s TPPA bid to over-ride democracy

Written By: - Date published: 6:47 pm, January 10th, 2014 - 16 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, capitalism, democratic participation, exports, privatisation, same old national, us politics - Tags:

This article on today’s NZ Herald reinforces some of the Jane Kelsey’s statements indicating a bit of a tussle between Congress and Obama’s push to get the TPPA though as soon as possible.

In November, Kelsey stated there was a conflict between the US House of Representatives and Obama’s desire for them to the President ‘fast track authority’.  Some documents released by Wikileaks resulted in a response from Democrats in the House of Representatives.

In a second, stunning blow to the TPPA negotiations, 151 of the 201 Democrat members of the US House of Representatives today released a letter to the President that formally declared their opposition to giving him “fast track authority’. Others may follow.

The letter states ‘we will oppose “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority or any other mechanism delegating Congress’ constitutional authority over trade policy that continues to exclude us from having a meaningful role in the formative states of trade agreements and throughout negotiating and approval processes.’

Fast track, otherwise known as Trade Promotion Authority, would require Congress to accept the final TPPA deal or reject it, in toto, and not to cherry pick the parts they want and block what they do not like. No major deal has gone through Congress in recent decades without fast track.

On 11 December, Kelsey reported on the continuing tussle as Obama aimed to push through the TPPA negotiations while many people were still in December-January holiday mode.

‘The US behaviour is not surprising’, Kelsey said. ‘What is shocking is that other countries would make major concessions without a firm US market access offer and knowing that Obama cannot guarantee to deliver any deal through the Congress’.

‘Some ministers at the press conference said the deal is contingent on acceptable market access. But they have already put their cards on the table’.

A final piece of hypocrisy in the statement is the promise to ‘further our consultation with stakeholders and engage in our respective political processes’.

The ministers have simply ignored groundswell of condemnation from legislators in the US, Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Japan about the secrecy of negotiations and their calls for release of the draft text.

Stakeholders, pro and con the TPPA, have had no formal opportunity to interact with negotiators for the past three negotiating rounds, although most governments have engaged actively with commercial lobbyists.

Today the NZ Herald reports that Obama’s preference for the “fast track” option is still getting opposition in Congress, while talking up the possibility of Obama getting his way.

Legislation key to President Barack Obama’s trade agenda to boost exports to the Asia-Pacific is being welcomed by business, but faces some stiff opposition from Obama’s fellow Democrats.

A bill to grant the president “fast track” authority for negotiating trade deals was introduced Thursday, co-sponsored by a senior Democrat and two key Republicans.

Fast track, which was last approved in 2002 and expired in 2007, assures that the administration can negotiate trade deals that Congress can accept or reject but cannot change.

But while the US members of Congress complaint about the limited amount of say they will have on the TPPA deals, they will have more say than NZ MPs. The NZ PM will only show all MPs the deal once it has been signed.

Five House members from the New Democrat Coalition said the bill made key improvements to the 2002 fast track, and would help in efforts eliminate unfair barriers for American companies.

As if many US companies are at a disadvantage compared with NZ ones, inside and outside NZ.

This important issue should not be allowed to slip under the radar over the summer period.

It’s about democracy and sovereignty: particularly it’s about Kiwis being able to ensure a reasonable life for all New Zealanders.


16 comments on “Obama’s TPPA bid to over-ride democracy”

  1. Pasupial 1


    Thanks so much for this post, I’ve been so wrapped up in gloom inducing facts today that it’s good to get some good news. Even if it is only through the byzantine maze incompetence that is the USAmerican government. If we can change government this year, then there is a chance that we may actually get to see that pig poked in a sack for which we’re prepared to swap our sovereignity.

  2. Chooky 2

    @ Pasupial..is it good news though?…if Obama gets his way it is a blow against democracy and NZer’s interests

    Why is Obama trying to push this through like this?…surely such action goes against everything he is supposed to stand for? ie democracy and fair trading?….and if he succeeds can a Labour Govt rescind the agreement?

    • Macro 2.1

      Why is Obama trying to push this through like this?

      because although a democrat he is only slightly to the left of genghis khan.

  3. Philj 3

    Lol, I like the reference ‘Key improvements’. Haha

  4. greywarbler 4

    No way do we want to hitch ourselves to this holey ship that is the USA. We have problems but TPPA would add to them. Australia, an ally of the USA, and apparently with no commitment to maintain friendly relationships with us, may try and suck us dry. To have the USA take charge of our nation and our decision-making and control our actions at will, would finish us. That would not improve our economy, our way of life, and we would become saturated by USA culture which has become toxic for their own people, as well as whomever they touch.

    There are some good things, great things, to admire in certain states of the USA but what the federal government does outside the country does not inspire admiration. Will we be a new Okinawa? A permanent base for military. It is possible they might envisage this, as they try to maintain dominance in the world, especially China, with whom we are trying to build important trading relationships. The joint military international exercise recently in Timaru was very uncomfortable to view.

    • SpaceMonkey 4.1

      Could be the US (read US corporates) see NZ as a stepping stone to Antarctica and all that unlocked oil, natural gas, and minerals…

  5. infused 5

    It will never pass. No need to worry about it. Look at wiki leak files, nz pushed back hard on it, same as most other countries

  6. Foreign Waka 6

    An Imperialistic approach disguised as a trade agreement covered with movie images and propagated with a hint a a Big Mac. Yeah, they have read the Kiwis like an open book……

  7. joe90 7

    The dunghammer.

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a million-ton dunghammer aimed at what’s left of the American middle-class, the dwindling numbers of which ought to be able by now to recognize the taste of “free-trade” snake oil when it’s fed to them. This bill is the worst kind of Beltway Potemkin transparency. It seeks to guarantee that the debate is carefully circumscribed within the parameters in which the Serious People feel most comfortable — one in which a goody-bag for corporate interest supported by Orrin Hatch and Max Baucus is considered to be a “bipartisan” triumph — and making sure that the debate doesn’t disturb the horses or interrupt cocktails on the veranda.


  8. joe90 8

    This too.

    Could there be a connection between the growth of violent, undemocratically imposed, unjust and unfair economic policies and the growth of crimes against women?

    I believe there is.

    Contributions of women

    Firstly, the economic model focusing myopically on “growth” begins with violence against women by discounting their contribution to the economy.

    The more the government talks ad nauseam about “inclusive growth” and “financial inclusion”, the more it excludes the contributions of women to the economy and society. According to patriarchal economic models, production for sustenance is counted as “non-production”. The transformation of value into disvalue, labour into non-labour, knowledge into non-knowledge, is achieved by the most powerful number that rules our lives, the patriarchal construct of GDP, Gross Domestic Product, which commentators have started to call the Gross Domestic Problem.


    • QoT 8.1

      Dr Vandana Shiva is a fucking rock star.

      • Chooky 8.1.1

        joe 90 and QoT…+100 on Dr Vandara Shiva

        ….”the economic model shaped by capitalist patriarchy is based on the commodification of everything, including women.”

        ……”a model of capitalist patriarchy which excludes women’s work and wealth creation in the mind deepens the violence by displacing women from their livelihoods and alienating them from the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend – their land, their forests, their water, their seeds and biodiversity. Economic reforms based on the idea of limitless growth in a limited world can only be maintained by the powerful grabbing the resources of the vulnerable. The resource grab that is essential for “growth” creates a culture of rape – the rape of the earth, of local self-reliant economies, the rape of women. The only way in which this “growth” is “inclusive” is by its inclusion of ever larger numbers in its circle of violence”

        …..”all women who produce for their families, children, community and society are treated as “non-productive” and “economically” inactive. When economies are confined to the market place, economic self-sufficiency is perceived as economic deficiency”

        – See more at: http://2013.onebillionrising.org/blog/entry/introducing-the-obr-article-series-dr.-vandana-shiva-1#sthash.XQ6L9Cbq.dpuf

        • karol

          Oh most excellent link – I have been researching a similar topic. Thank-you, Chooky & joe.

          • Chooky

            karol …you may also be interested in the writings of

            *Susan Griffin ( ‘Women and Nature….’ and ‘Pornography and Silence – Culture’s Revenge Against Nature’)
            * Mary Daly (Gyn/Ecology)
            * Carolyn Merchant ( ‘The Death of Nature -Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution’) * Loretta Napoleoni (‘Rogue Economics – Capitalism’s New Reality’)

        • RedBaronCV

          Commodification of women. I can see myself using that phrase, its good. Thanks

  9. adam 9

    Why is Russian TV the only one giving this the coverage it deserves.

    A wee bit from Abby Martin RT has a lot of others at RT good coverage of this issue.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


  • Government failure on housing crisis drives Reserve Bank to add tools
    If the Government was delivering a comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis, it is unlikely that the Reserve Bank would be continuing to pursue debt to income limits for lending for housing, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    5 hours ago
  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    4 days ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    4 days ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    5 days ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    5 days ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    5 days ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    6 days ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    6 days ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    6 days ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    1 week ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    1 week ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    1 week ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    1 week ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    1 week ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Working people carrying the can for the Government
    Today’s announcement of a Government operating surplus is the result of the hard work of many Kiwi businesses and workers, who will be asking themselves if they are receiving their fair share of growth in the economy, Grant Robertson Labour ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Breast cancer drugs should be available
    Labour supports the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition’s campaign for better access to cancer treatments as more patients are denied what is freely available in Australia, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “In the last three years, PHARMAC’s funding has been ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Community law centres get much needed support from banks
      New Zealand’s network of community law centres, who operate out of more than 140 locations across the country, have today received a much needed boost, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.  “After more than 8 years of static funding ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Just 18 affordable homes in Auckland SHAs – It’s time for KiwiBuild
    New data revealing just 18 affordable homes have been built and sold to first home buyers in Auckland’s Special Housing Areas show National’s flagship housing policy has failed and Labour’s comprehensive housing plan is needed, says Leader of the Opposition ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Pasifika wins big in Auckland elections
    The Labour Party’s Pacific Candidates who stood for local elections in Auckland came out on top with 14 winners, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio. “Our candidates have won seats on one ward, four local boards, two ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seven7 hikoi to stop sexual violence
    2 weeks ago
  • Road toll passes 2013 total
    The road toll for the year to date has already passed the total for the whole of 2013, raising serious questions about the Government’s underfunding of road safety, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “According to the Ministry of Transport, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bay principals slam charter school decision
    A letter from Hawke’s Bay principals to the Education Minister slams the lack of consultation over the establishment of a charter school in the region and seriously calls into question the decision making going on under Hekia Parata’s watch, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government needs to act on voter turnout crisis
    With fewer than 40 per cent of eligible voters having their say in the 2016 local elections, the Government must get serious and come up with a plan to increase voter turnout, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Inquiry presents solutions to homelessness – Govt must act
    Labour, the Green Party and the Māori Party are calling on the Government to immediately adopt the 20 recommendations set out in today's Ending Homelessness in New Zealand report. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A good night for Labour’s local government candidates
    It has been a good night for Labour in the local government elections. In Wellington, Justin Lester became the first Labour mayor for 30 years, leading a council where three out of four Labour candidates were elected. Both of Labour’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More contenders for fight clubs
    Allegations of fight clubs spreading to other Serco-run prisons must be properly investigated says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Minister runs for cover on job losses
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell’s refusal to show leadership and provide assurances over the future of the Māori Land Court is disappointing, given he is spearheading contentious Maori land reforms which will impact on the functions of the Court, ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Kiwisaver contribution holiday not the break workers were looking for
    The number of working New Zealanders needing to stop Kiwisaver payments is another sign that many people are not seeing benefit from growth in the economy, says Grant Robertson Labour’s Finance spokesperson. "There has been an increase of 14 ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Fight Club failings
    The Corrections Minister must take full responsibility for the widespread management failings within Mt Eden prison, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Rethink welcomed
    The Labour Party is pleased that Craig Foss is reconsidering the return of New Zealand soldiers buried in Malaysia, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “For the families of those who lie there, this will a welcome move. The ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Disappointment over UN vote
    Helen Clark showed her characteristic drive and determination in her campaign to be UN Secretary General, and most New Zealanders will be disappointed she hasn't been selected, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. "Helen Clark has been an ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Māori need answers on Land Court job losses
    Māori landowners, Māori employees and Treaty partners need answers after a Ministry of Justice consultation document has revealed dozens of roles will be disestablished at the Māori Land Court, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Key’s ‘efficiencies’ = DHBs’ pain
          John Key’s talk of ‘efficiencies’ ignores the fact the Government is chronically underfunding health to the tune of $1.7 billion, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.       ...
    3 weeks ago
  • More than 1,300 schools to face budget cuts
    The latest Ministry of Education figures reveal thousands of schools will face cuts to funding under National’s new operations grant funding model, says Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    3 weeks ago