The Corner

The Secrecy Complaints About TPP Are Also Meritless

In yesterday’s post, I argued — in agreement with NR’s editorialthat it is a mistake to conflate (a) the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact that the Obama administration is still negotiating with (b) Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that would grant the president the ability to seek an up-or-down vote from Congress on trade deals (including TPP) on a reasonably swift time frame. TPA is a good idea, is fully constitutional, and would not prevent Congress from rejecting a bad trade deal — which is exactly what Congress should do in the case of TPP if it turns out to be a bad deal. In a column on the homepage today, I examine another objection TPP opponents raise: the purported secrecy in which the agreement is shrouded. As readers will see, this objection is a red herring which confuses the draft agreement (the work in progress that the administration has made available to Congress under restrictive terms while it conducts the sensitive negotiations) with the final agreement (which will be available to both the public and Congress long before Congress is asked to vote on TPP legislation). 

As today’s column relates: 

There is no requirement for the executive branch to show Congress anything that is preliminary. The only agreement that is going to be voted on is the final agreement — at least if Obama wants that agreement to have the force of American law.

Significantly, with respect to that final agreement — which, to repeat, does not exist yet — the transparency protocols are apparently extensive. According to AEI’s Claude Barfield, the legislation will provide that the actual text of the final TPP agreement must be available not just to Congress but to the public for 60 days before the president is permitted to sign it. After that, if he wants the agreement to have the force of American law, the president must formally submit the final agreement to Congress, which would then have 90 days to review and vote on it.

That is, the supposedly “secret” TPP may not be approved until the public and our representatives in Congress have five months to scrutinize it.

If Dr. Barfield is correct, and I have found nothing to suggest otherwise, then the complaints about a secret deal being rammed through Congress and foisted on an unsuspecting public – à la Obamacare – are risible.

The full column is here.

 

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