Slog tipper Greg sent this Democracy Now! link to me, and I'm really glad he did, because it highlights a trade agreement that's been flying under the radar during the whole shutdown fiasco. Here's Democracy Now's explanation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership:
The TPP is often referred to by critics as "NAFTA on steroids," and would establish a free trade zone that would stretch from Vietnam to Chile, encompassing 800 million people — about a third of world trade and nearly 40 percent of the global economy. While the text of the treaty has been largely negotiated behind closed doors and, until June, kept secret from Congress, more than 600 corporate advisers reportedly have access to the measure, including employees of Halliburton and Monsanto. "This is not mainly about trade," says Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. "It is a corporate Trojan horse. The agreement has 29 chapters, and only five of them have to do with trade. The other 24 chapters either handcuff our domestic governments, limiting food safety, environmental standards, financial regulation, energy and climate policy, or establishing new powers for corporations."
You can find video and a transcript of the Democracy Now! discussion over at their site. Or, if you'd like something in the form of an article, Moran Zhang has written a short primer about the TPP over at the International Business Times, which concludes that "the lack of clear economic benefits for the U.S. does not seem to justify its engagement." Once the shutdown soap opera ends for at least a few more months, I'm hoping the media will make the TPP a topic of discussion. Call me old-fashioned, but I think the American people should at least be given a chance to learn about the fact that their representatives are pushing enormous corporate-approved trade agreements.