Adding to the chorus of protest over President Barack Obama’s push for a controversial new trade pact with Asia, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sounded off on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and accused mainstream media of not covering what could be one of the biggest trade agreements in history.
“The major television networks are not covering the TPP. Incredible as it may sound, this trade agreement—the largest trade agreement in the history of the United States of America—has received virtually no coverage, no coverage, on the major networks,” Sanders said from the Senate floor on Thursday.
TPP is a trade deal being negotiated between the U.S., Canada and ten other Asia-Pacific nations, covering about 40 percent of the global economy. Supporters of the treaty argue that it would boost economic growth in participating countries by reducing tariffs, increasing investments and bringing the member nations closer together.
Critics aren’t buying it, arguing TPP would take jobs out of the U.S., increase income inequality, allow multinational corporations to sidestep U.S. regulations and reward countries with poor human rights records.
“I think it’s obvious for anyone who has taken a look at this issue that the TPP is just a new, easy way for corporations to shut down in America to send jobs abroad,” Sanders said.
Sanders likened TPP to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the poor-performing trade pact signed in 1994, which led to a loss of jobs and the deterioration of labor conditions in the U.S. and other partner nations.
“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is sometimes called insanity.” “If we think that a new trade agreement based on the same principles of the old trade agreements are going to bring different results, I think we are very, very wrong.”
Adding to the skepticism of TPP is that talks about the deal have been done in secret, so the exact implications are largely unknown, save for what has been revealed in leaks. Democrats have been joined by labor and environmental groups in calling foul on the deal and Obama’s request for “fast-track” authority — the ability to make trade agreements with less interference from Congress. Most Republicans have signaled they would grant Obama fast-track authority.
A petition from Sanders aiming to stop TPP said, “If TPP was such a good deal for America, the administration should have the courage to show the American people exactly what is in this deal, instead of keeping the content of the TPP a secret.”
Watch the video above. (Sanders addresses media coverage of TPP around the one-minute mark.)