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Jun
2013
21

Citing Unwillingness to Undo Trans-Pacific Partnership Secrecy, Sen. Elizabeth Warren Publicly Rejects Obama’s Trade Rep. Nominee

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren has announced she will oppose President Obama’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman, in part due to his stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 

Seeking transparency in the free trade agreement, Warren argued that Froman will continue the Obama Administration’s course of secrecy regarding TPP which could severely impact the future of labor laws, environmental standards, and national sovereignty. In her argument against Froman, Warren stated:

“If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States,” said Warren in her speech. “I am voting against Mr. Froman’s nomination later today because I believe we need a new direction from the Trade Representative — a direction that prioritizes transparency and public debate,” she concluded.

Warren has been at the forefront of the growing resistance to the TPP and has been one of the few lawmakers in Washington willing to continually take on the issue. Last week, Warren sent Froman a letter asking him about his willingness to provide transparency to the TPP.  She said his response was that he was going to stay the course.

“Mr. Froman’s response was clear: No, no, no.  He will not commit to make this information available so the public can track what is going on.”

Rep. Alan Grayson has also been vocal about a need for the public to be informed about the TPP, which he has called an “abuse of the classified information system.”  

Grayson is among those who believe that the TPP is an overreaching and dangerous trade agreement, the effects of which will last long into this young century.

“It’s all about tying the hands of democratically elected governments, and shunting authority over to the nonelected for the benefit of multinational corporations,” Grayson said. “It’s an assault on democratic government.”

In her speech rejecting Froman, Warren touched on this as well:

I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the Trade Representative’s policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant. In other words, if people knew what was going on, they would stop it. This argument is exactly backwards. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.

As the TPP gradually enters the national conversation, it will be interesting to see the public’s response. Recent discoveries regarding privacy breaches by the Obama administration will not help. For now, the public’s only weapon against agreements like this are politicians such as Warren.

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