NYT Endorses Imaginary TPP Deal

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal that is being negotiated completely in secret. The main actors at the table are large corporate interests like Wall Street banks, multinational drug companies, and oil and gas companies. This might lead one to think that the end product will be an agreement that furthers the upward redistribution of income rather than benefits the bulk of the population. That seems especially likely since this is a “next generation” trade agreement that is primarily about regulations, not reducing traditional trade barriers like tariffs and quotas.

The result is likely to be a deal where corporations will use the trade agreement to block restrictions on their behavior that might otherwise be imposed by democratically elected governments. For example, the financial industry might use the deal to prohibit Dodd-Frank type restrictions that prevent the sort of abuses that led to the financial crisis. The oil and gas industries might use the deal to prohibit environmental restrictions on fracking. And the pharmaceutical industry might push for stronger patent-type protections. These will raise the price of drugs (like a tax) and slow economic growth.

Bizarrely, the NYT editorialized in favor of the TPP, concluding its piece:

“A good agreement would lower duties and trade barriers on most products and services, strengthen labor and environmental protections, limit the ability of governments to tilt the playing field in favor of state-owned firms and balance the interests of consumers and creators of intellectual property. Such a deal will not only help individual countries but set an example for global trade talks.”

Yes, boys and girls, Goldman Sachs, Exxon-Mobil and Pfizer will put together a deal that does all these things. This is serious?