Are Administration Claims of Progress on TransPacific Partnership Negotiations in Japan Credible?

As readers may know, the mislabeled trade deal known as the TransPacific Partnership hasn’t looked like it has great odds of being consummated. The Wikileaks publication of two important draft chapters showed considerable opposition from America’s counterparties on numerous important provisions. As we’ve reported, the Japanese press has said, in pretty direct terms, that the US has not been willing to bargain and Japanese aren’t interested in being ordered about.

In the US, Congress is in revolt. Congress had over time abdicated much of its responsibility for these treaties by giving successive Administrations “fast track” authority, which would allow them to negotiate a trade pact, then present it to both Houses for a yea or nay vote. But the TransPacific Partnership, and its evil sister, the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, have been shrouded in so much secrecy as to raise Congress’ hackles. House Speaker Boehner has said he doesn’t have the votes to pass fast track authority, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stated he won’t table the bill.

But the Administration has not given up. We warned that it might try pushing a bill through in the lame duck session at the end of this year. And it’s also trying to get those difficult Japanese in line. A plugged-in DC contact wrote, clearly concerned:

[US Trade Representative Froman] is in Japan NOW trying to grease the skids for Obama’s “heroic” deal storyline during April 23-25 AND he is making some headway! No breakthroughs apparently but Ambassador Rude is getting stuff his team who has been there for 3 weeks straight has not. AND if the Ways and Means hearing were not sufficiently intense for a Japanese audience, Froman did a news conf when he landed Tuesday night Japan time and blasted the bilateral trade pact that Japan has just signed with Australia to great fanfare in Japan…. Go figure?

At the same time, the Administration also appears to be ramping up its PR war in the US. As Public Citizen points out in a new paper, it’s become hard to sell the pending trade deals using the usual “free trade” dog whistle. Some of the media has wised up to the fact that past trade pacts such as NAFTA cost the US jobs. And when unemployment is high and most of the jobs being created are low-quality, badly paid service work, ordinary people are more concerned than in the past about preserving employment at home.

So the new pitch for these deals is to sell them as important to foreign policy. But the problem, as Public Citizen points out, is that these hoary old arguments have been shown to be canards. Some of them are actually funny when you think about them, for instance, that trade deals are proof of America’s manhood.

Another bizarre set of arguments surrounds China. Remember that the TPP was first meant to be an “anybody but China” deal, to bolster waning US power in the region. But Obama missed a key Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation session in Bali, when he was busy trying to start a war with Syria. So what happened? As noted in an October post, Chinese President Xi Jinping used the opportunity to take a swipe a the TPP. From Agence France Presse:

But China and even some developing nations included in the TPP have expressed concern that it will set down trade rules primarily benefiting the richest countries and most powerful firms.

“China will commit itself to building a trans-Pacific regional cooperation framework that benefits all parties,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech following Kerry at the APEC business forum.

“We should enhance coordination… deepen regional integration and avoid the spaghetti bowl effect so as to build closer partnerships across the Pacific.”

So what happened next? The official Administration party line is that China could (presumably “later”) join the TPP. Huh?

The Public Citizen report on how 20 years of bogus policy arguments in support of trade deals are being invoked to justify these toxic trade pacts is very much worth reading. For example:

Past free trade agreements (FTAs) failed to counter the rising economic influence of China (or Japan): From 2000 to 2011, U.S. FTAs with eight Latin American countries were sold as bulwarks against foreign economic influence in the hemisphere. The U.S. pacts were implemented and China’s exports to Latin America soared more than 1,280 percent, from $10.5 billion to more than $145 billion, while the U.S. saw only modest export growth. The U.S.-produced share of Latin America’s imported goods fell 36 percent, while China’s share increased 575 percent. Similarly, under the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) first 20 years, the U.S.-produced share of Mexico’s imported goods dropped from almost 70 percent to less than 50 percent, while China’s share rose more than 2,600 percent. Similarly, after hysterical claims that Japan would seize U.S. market share in Latin America by signing its own free trade agreements unless the United States approved NAFTA and other FTAs, such Japanese FTAs were signed anyway.

But what about Japan? Is the US really making headway?

I was skeptical as soon as I read the insider’s summary, that senior level talks between Froman and Economic Policy Minister Akira Amari made progress where talks at the staff level (and even between the USTR’s Wendy Cutler and Vice Minister Hiroshi Oi) were stalled.

Why? Deals are never done at the senior level in Japan, outside of owner-controlled companies. The real decision-makers are a cadre of upper middle level officials, typically in their early 40s. The more senior official serve in a ministerial/external relations capacity. So in a Japanese context, Amari does not have the authority to deal. Anything he and Froman discuss will have to be signed off on by the real power structure in the ministry.

I asked our regular reader of the Japanese-language press, Clive, if he has seen anything that was in keeping with optimistic talk from the Administration. His comments:

Do I buy it (this report of sudden, miraculous TPP negotiations progress)? No, not for one second! Whenever someone talks about achieving a “breakthrough” in the context of US/Japan TPP negotiations, I ask myself “why? what’s changed all of a sudden?”. All the factors that were there three weeks ago (actually, right since the start of negotiations) are still there now. What exactly could a sweet talking US representative bring to the table? Nothing, apart from US concessions.

The only possibility is that the US is talking tough in public (Froman in Congress last week and at the press conference in JP on Tuesday) but caving in big time in private during the negotiations. There’s been absolutely nothing to substantiate that in the Japanese language press though, which is all still going on about “Japan wants to do a deal but serious issues remain” etc. etc. The language would have changed if some major shift had happened and I’ve just not seen that.

However, that is something I wouldn’t discount entirely. Japan would be more than delighted to do a TPP deal that meant that Abe could say he’d delivered an “important wide ranging economic reform” but in reality did nothing substantive. That would allow everyone to claim a success without actually having to change anything – i.e. classic Japan modus operandi!

Now my knowledge runs dry so I can’t really comment on the following with any sort of accuracy – but I wonder. Is there any possibility that the Obama administration is so desperate that it would consider a Potemkin TPP – something that contains little, if anything, in practice but looks or can be spun into something that sounds good? Would Congress pass such a thing? Would US politics see through that or would it be fooled? Is Obama really *that* concerned about his “legacy”? Is he that shallow?

Similarly, I really don’t know what’s with the Australia meat “deal”. When I first read of this in the JP language press, I had to check I wasn’t misreading because I thought it sounded exactly like a – long standing – existing deal. It is a very mildly tweaked version – if you check the details, you realise just how meaningless it is: – e.g. an 8% immediate drop in frozen beef tariffs then 18 years (!!!) to fall another 11%. That’s well within what you might expect exchange rate fluctuations to deliver. And the “anti dumping” cap which is enforced by punitive tariffs once imports to Japanese reach a specified level hasn’t been touched from what I can tell.

I can understand Japan wanting to portray the Aussie meat deal as some sort of triumph – and yes, it does allow Japan to say to the US (with Kabuki mask firmly in place) “hey, we can negotiate, here’s a huge transformative breakthrough we’ve achieved” which is exactly what they’re doing in the press now. But what’s in it for Oz ? That, unfortunately, I can’t work out at all.

Having said that, the Japanese are attentive to the need to not embarrass Obama when he visits later this month. So expect to hear some more noise of progress in the negotiations. But there is still no reason to think that anything has progressed beyond managing appearances.

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  1. 12312399

    on a related note, I think that the Japanese establishment smells the paranoia that the US establishment has about China. As such, the Japanese know that no matter how badly the US is treated via trade deals, no US administration move the 7th Fleet HQ from Japan.

    1. Clive

      That is a very good point and it illustrates the US’ dilemma. In the TPP negotiations, one bargaining chip the US has in theory with Japan is that it could threaten that — if Japan doesn’t show itself to be more “co-operative” on trade then the US could take it’s ball military support away. Or other similar moves like being less inclined to assist Japan with its territorial disputes.

      But everyone knows that for the US to, like you say, pretend it could seriously scale back its military presence in the region — or support for its allies — is counterproductive. And there’s little possibility of the US picking sides in the territorial disputes, they are too fraught with risk. The US will make noises but that’s about it.

      Years of incompetent regional strategy has left the US bereft of levers to pull to try and get its way on the TPP. Ironically, given that we’re talking about trade and economics here, Asian countries outside of China haven’t forgotten the US’ response to the Asian Crisis which was to throw the whole region under the bus of the IMF and Austerity. With friends like the US a lot of ASEAN countries reckon they don’t need enemies.

  2. John

    The US is not pulling the 7th Fleet away from Japan — not in the foreseeable future — even without a trade deal. The US gets a great ops support deal from the Japanese, unmatched anywhere else in the world.

  3. John

    Please bear with me. I import and export things on a regular basis and can say that red tape restrictions in a number of countries drives up the cost of doing business. When a country has signed onto a trade treaty with another country believe me, it helps ease costly hoops. You get can then get door to door service without government meddling.

    As for Team Obama’s antics and his motivations to get the trade treaties signed, thats another story.

    1. Clive

      Oh, absolutely. I personally have absolutely no objections in principle to co-ordinations of international regulations, disbanding of corrupt state owned enterprises which only serve to line the pockets of the embedded elites in their countries of operation or protection of trade marks such as where, say, a craft producer of local food doesn’t want anyone else to have an inferior product masquerade as the genuine article (e.g. Parmesan cheese or Columbian coffee).

      Here in Europe, for instance, a lot of products have to carry an EU certification “CE” mark. This means that, say, an electrical product has been tested and complies with a minimum standard and won’t electrocute you or a pair of glasses won’t damage your eyesight. And once a product has received its certification, it can be sold anywhere in the single market after completion of only one set of compliance checking. This is an absolutely huge boon to trade, it enforces a minimum set of product standards and stops countries excluding the exports from another country on spurious grounds. And if standards need to be raised (as, for example, happened recently on air conditioners when a much higher set of coefficients of performance / energy efficiency were mandated) then it’s easy to set the new standard and have it applied across the entire EU. So broadly, European certification operates in consumers’ interests.

      The problem I have with the TPP is that it is being set up in a way that is diametrically opposed to the interests of the ordinary person. Without an ethos of trying to protect the little people, it will be used by big business to gouge them out.

      1. different clue

        “Disbanding of corrupt state-owned enterprises” . . . as it was done in Yeltsin’s Russia?
        And NAFTA’s Mexico?
        And are labor standards, pollution controls, etc. properly considered some of that red tape to be swept away?

        1. Chris

          >“Disbanding of corrupt state-owned enterprises” . . . as it was done in Yeltsin’s Russia?

          “the dismantling of state owned enterprises” was basically a takeover of all of the former state owned enterprises that had value left in them by gangsters. “New Russians” as they were called, sarcastically by almost everybody.

          I think they want that to be seen as referring to China and there its true, but there is another meaning they aren’t explaining and that is their war on government provided public services around the world.

          They attack public services, public healthcare etc. as being a evil monopoly. They still want us to see privatization as better but the fact is, privatization goes very badly a lot of the time. The thing that really has to be removed from these trade agreements is the investor-state process. Because due to investor-state, one corrupt administration can basically devastate a country’s economy and the damage is not recoverable via elections because of the creation of these investor-state entitlements to countrie’s markets. There is no coneivable justification for that. Humanity existed for many thousands of years without it, the possibility that laws might be changed or that a country’s people may find a business relationship to be a negative, tahts partof the risk of doing business for businesses. If they dont like it, then nobody is forcing them to participate. Let them leave. But giving multinational corporations permanent (as in forever!) “rights” than any domestic company is absolutely evil.

          There is a good description of this practice that applies generally to all FTAs that contain them here on pages 8 and 9

      2. Chris

        The ‘standards’ they promote are never upward, always lower- the lowest common denominator variety. For example, many of the ACA’s much hyped protections would be unceremoniously struck down by a WTO tribunal as barriers to market access by trading partners. (Second linked document is a compilation of requests from the EU to the US under GATS)

  4. ex-PFC Chuck


    Is there any possibility that the Obama administration is so desperate that it would consider a Potemkin TPP – something that contains little, if anything, in practice but looks or can be spun into something that sounds good?

    Is the Pope Catholic? Potemkin accomplishment has been the modus operandi of the Obama administration from the get-go.

    1. Clive

      Groan… just when I think I’m getting too cynical about the parlous state of US politics… I realise that I’m not nearly cynical enough.

    2. different clue

      I think Obama’s owners want something real here. Or at least real enough to build on. As with Ocare.
      So a Potemkin-in-appearance agreement will only be allowed if it contains the real things or real pathways to same that Obama’s owners want. In other words, a Potemkin potemkin agreement designed to provide people false assurance that it is really only just potemkin anyway.

    3. Synopticist

      “Potemkin accomplishment has been the modus operandi of the Obama administration from the get-go.”

      Spot on.

  5. Chauncey Gardiner

    So what is Stefan Selig’s role in this negotiations? Whose interests is he representing and why? Also, has the Senate confirmed his nomination, which the administration reportedly made late last year?

    Selig reportedly received a $9 million bonus from Bank of America for agreeing to participate in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. I believe that is more than double Froman’s take.

  6. Jackrabbit

    Whatever the nature of what they call “progress” may be, I think the salient point is this: they have no intention of ever giving up. They have invested substantial time and effort and are determined to make it work. As with Ukraine, the neolibs and neocons are united for strategic advantage: a geopolitical (counter China) and economic ‘win’.

    The continuing negotiations make it ever more clear that Reid’s talk of no fast-track “anytime soon” – which was reported by many as “fast-track is dead” – was to protect the Congressmuppets that support fast-track.

    This is the reality of our situation: craven, insincere manipulators running the show supported by the unreality industry.

    1. pretzelattack

      dear obots (dembots)

      this is what the Obama administration does when it really wants to pursue a goal. compare and contrast with the efforts expended toward supporting workers, single payer, prosecuting financial and environmental crimes, protecting whistleblowers (i didn’t realize that protecting meant prosecuting), and making government more transparent. etc.

      1. Binky Bear

        Romney would have been soooo much better. srsly.
        Choices on the menu were Romney and Obama, known as “Rombama.” With Obama you get some gay rights and a few other cheap wins; with Romney you get Mormon takeover of the country, e.g. game night and Disney movies on BYU TV.

  7. Chris

    Disinformation seems to be everywhere these days. A heads-up. Reid appears to me to be helping the Obama administration conceal the fact that pre-existing free trade agreements have been the real culprits quietly blocking America’s chances of achieving any real health care reform since long before the 2008 election.

    A fact which incredibly, they have been able to hide for decades, thanks to the help of the media and some legislators who feign ignorance of the main goals of trade agreements they themselves helped to pass.

    Please read the two papers linked above. They will illustrate that the real reason the Affordable Care Act neither cares nor is affordable is an long history of US cimmittments to an extremist free trade policy which clearly bans all of the major cost cutting strategies that would be needed to give Americans affordable health care.

    **The “free trade agreements” main goal, apparent in dozens of ways, appears to have been from the start, gutting the safety net in countries that sign on to them, especially the United States. Several of them appear to arguably blocking real single payer. That is why it was never on the table. And that is also why the discussions preliminary to the ACA excluded representatives of the public. Just as members of the public are excluded from free trade agreement negotiations. Please take the following hypothesis seriously enough to follow the links to the papers above and below and verify what I am saying.

    I beleive we’re being led into a trap unknowingly, which will lock in the current state of privatization and further mandate the ttal privatization of healthcare (and later other public services like education)

    I believe that the last few years “gridlock” has been a false conflict which in fact was coordinated by the two parties as a means of preventing a national debate on health care affordability and real reform, which would include single payer. The main reason is that the FTAs already banned single payer, arguably, under their “standstill” clauses. Additionally, another method of blocking single ayer, one which could be far more difficult to remove, is investor state. I believe we’re watching a plan unfold which is supposed to both create the illusion of a “manufacture consent” artificially (without any real democratic debate whatsoever occurring) and then quietly trigger the FTA’s investor-state lock in making termination of the insurance industry’s death grip on America impossibly costly because it would require compensation based on the size of the potential market.

    I suspect that this is being done by manufacturing a crisis which only “extreme measures” as put forward by this secret and unholy coalition will be able to “solve”. I suspect its in its final stages now.

    I suspect that we’ll soon see a “GOP proposal”. One of its many confusing “suggestions” will be allowing the selling of one insurance policy throughout the country “to reduce costs”.

    Nobody will raise an alarm, because nobody will know that is significant or why it is significant thanks to a media bockade on discussion of single payer which has existed for decades. (see and Link 2. )

    Most Americans don’t realize that allowing insurance companies to sell one policy throughout all 50 states, is tantamount to an invitation to foreign fims to sell low value insurance in the US (as is done in the Third World) and that post NAFTA, post GATS, etc, such an entry is a trigger to make the privatization of that market segment permanent enough to survive revolutions, even (as happened in South Africa) The health insurance industry then gets a legal ownership of the market, a right to continue selling their wares forever.

    That is madness.

    The desire on the part of the insurance industry to confuse the fact that only real single payer could control costs, in preparation for the day when the investor-state issue might become known was just as large of a reason for the “public option” bait and switch as pushing any discussion of single payer into the shadows.

    The public lacking the key knowledge that the “public” in public option was not the reason for savings at all (in fact, it makes insurance more expensive to open it to anybody who can pay, sick or healthy)

    If they could squelch, successfully-if they were successful in preventing all discussion of the *reasons* for single payer’s cost savings, then people easily could be convinced that any number of multi-payer schemes were single payer, and they would not become alarmed even if they were to find out that insurers would get a permanent entitlement to remain!

    If they could confuse the issues enough so that a few guaranteed to fail multipayer schemes were promoted as single payer, loudly, and then intriduced to great fanfare as “public” and then, as they always do, inevitably fail due to adverse selection/death spiral, then their failures could and would be attributed to a failure of single payer.

    Nobody raised the alarm that these multi-payer schemes have been tried in state after state and have failed every time. In fact, its clear that paid bloggers are trying to drown out such news whenever it appears and they have been successful.

    We’re witnessing a scheme to give the parasitic insurance industry, which adds no value, a legal entitlement to feed forever, on the blood of the American people. A new and terrifying “right” which has never before existed in history, a right which literally guarantees the failure of all health care reform because it prevents the huge simplification and increase in government price control bargaining power, which single payer enables, leaving the US a captive at the mercy of the healthcare market, a market within which study after study shows that competition between for-profit entities raises, not lowers prices.

    The 50 US states with their separate requirements may have been our lifesaver, up until now, from investor-state lock in on health care insurance. The lack of what’s called an “NAIC Model Law” has been formally stated by them to be a market access barrier to foreign insurance companies entering the US market.

    In my opinion, barring an alarm being raised on this danger, now, a strong possibility exists that the GOP proposal to allow selling one policy throughout the entire US will no doubt then be incorporated into a subsequent “compromise” from the neoliberal Obama. Which I am certain wants to trigger these FTA’s lock in provisions in any way they can. (Otherwise, why would they have hired the contro versial multinational Ser co Group to handle income verification in the Obama roll out, an act with free trade agreement impli cations?)

    Silently, the involvement of multinationals will seal our nation’s healthcare fate – ending our chances of ever having affordable single payer, and its savings.

    To be successful in avoiding destruction by GATS, its clear, single payer must be free, completely free.

    And, there must be no private competition to the government “monopoly”. Money must be out of the picture-

    Such is what’s required by GATS and other FTAs to exempt a public service system from mandatory privatization. (See Skala, and also Ref 1 and Ref 2)

    So that’s what we must do. And we must do it now.

    Reserving Our Rights To Determine Our Own Healthcare Policy:

    How can we do this?
    We must start now by getting these issues out into the open by demanding an explicit declaration of our country’s sovereign right to determine our own healthcare policy.

    We could start by requiring that the USTR explicitly withdraw health insurance from GATS and insert into all other FTA’s carve outs forever excluding all healthcare and educational services from our commitments under the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services and any existing or subsequent free trade agreements which cover services (as TPP is said to) We also need to insert similar carve outs and exclusions asserting the rights of the US “payer ” and all US state entities or large drug purchasers to set pricing based on global average prices, a price savings strategy which has been repeatedly prohibited by US sponsored FTAs which seem to be conducting a war on medicine affordability globally. Also we need to drop a number of provisions from FTAs which overstep the bounds of rational trade behavior as they pertains to medicines, patents and pricing. It would be better business practice to promote affordable drugs – because we are pricing ourselves out of markets – (and killing people, in the USA as well as elesewhere by demanding the maintenance of unreasonably high drug prices.)

    In “The potential impact of the World Trade Organization’s general agreement on trade in services on health system reform and regulation in the United States.” [Int J Health Serv. 2009] author Nicholas Skala makes some suggestions as to how that could be done. There are also some excellent suggestions in the Canadian publication “Putting Health First” which could be adapted to the United States’ situation.

    This is an urgent, pressing issue as a “GOP proposal” and Obama “compromise” could appear at any time in the current atmosphere. I would not be surprised if the Obama Administration and the GOP were in fact, coordinating their efforts to shift the Overton window so as to leave the US with a “locked in” horrible healthcare situation (which also effectively concealed its real cause and the successful hiding by the political class of that fact for over two decades.)

    They have largely concealed from all Americans the fact that we’ve been living under free trade agreements which effectively contain rules mandating privatization of almost all public services, with only the most narrow exceptions, for two decades.

    Please – we must take this situation seriously, Thank you.

    1. Dwight

      I finally read Nicholas Skala’s article this morning. He is right, and I suspect that Japan’s public health system could be at threat from the TPP, and that rice tariffs could be a red trojan herring horse.

  8. different clue

    Here is a post and blogthread from a different blog called The Confluence. The post was about a different subject (Ocare specifically) but the thread quickly aquired some high value comments about Free Trade Agreements as a concealed platform for subversion and aggression against meaningful tax-funded public health care of any sort for any body. Here is the link.

    1. Chris

      That was me at Confluence, and I hope both that and my post here were not too wordy. I just wanted to bring peoples attention to this huge underlying free trade issue and how its ruining our chances for affordable healthcare. Something which they clearly want to hide for good reason. I also want to say that I am not against trade or facilitation of same. I think its almost always a good thing. The point I was trying to get across is that while telling us one thing they are doing its opposite, that they are covertly working against healthcare affordability, something that’s vitally important to our country’s future. FAR more important than increasing drug or insurance company profits. There are key issues in there that very few people outside of healthcare finance understand, that are very important to understanding the whole thing. Without an understanding of them it doesn’t make sense.

      1. different clue

        Some of your comments there were different aspects of this same basic problem and every word was useful. One hopes other readers here will go over there to read the thread. It appears the very keyest thing right now is to kill fast track so as to gain time to increase the chances of killing TPP/TPIP. If those can be killed, it might inspire currently defeated people to think striking against the DC FedRegime’s trade agreements can be successful and it might inspire a movement to plot out the politics of abolishing NAFTA/America’s WTO membership/ MFN for China. Perhaps we could move on to abolishing all MFN agreements we have and then repealing the law which makes MFN possible. After that , we could withdraw from whatever previous GATT rounds were crafted to cement private health insurance.

        If none of that is possible, the other alternative would be to excercise the “Yeltsin Option” . . . to break up the country into some separated new countries which could get out from under the trade agreements and reject them and not be bound by them. Much as Yeltsin and two others Republic Presidents agreed to break up the Soviet Union to break up the Communist Party’s power to rule.

        1. Chris

          I don’t like ideas that involve dividing countries. First thing, Americans have a lot more in common than we have differences.

          Putting Obama into power and claiming over and over again that he’s a “liberal” when he’s actually a neoliberal fake is a tactic that designed to try to divide the country.

          I think that the people who are trying to whip up self-identified Democrats and Republicans against one another are the evil ones. The sooner we recognize that the better. United we stand, divided we fall.

  9. Chris

    You know how with certain kinds of people, nothing is as it seems, at all, ever? “Honesty” is not “in their vocabulary”. Everything I read about TPP seems to follow a certain pattern. In there there are a great many things that have little or nothing to do with trade that the Obama administration and their allies want, but which are so against the interests of the American people they can’t or won’t discuss them openly.

    Bluntly, I think the Obama administation is out of touch with the country. There has to be some kind of event which brings the secret negotiations out into the open. I don’t think what they are doing is even the best kind of advocacy for the US business community. They are lying again and again trying to get this thing passed. Why? It really is full of things which people are up in arms about. The drug pricing issue is a big one,. I hope people are all aware that its too kind to call many Obamacare plans insurance as they fail to make healthcare affordable for so many and hide everything under layer after layer of smoke and mirrors. ACA plans shift a great of the costs of drugs onto the chronically ill. In that context for the Obama Administration to be out there trying to raise the prices of drugs is really shameful.

    They should be more of a moderating influence rather than trying to translate every demand of Hollywood or the drug or insurance industries into another bad policy.

    When/where does it stop? We have three more years to look forward to of this.

    1. hunkerdown

      But it isn’t even pro-business. It’s pro-elite. It would be far more plausible for Westphalian nations to privately team up to slaughter the bulk of their insubordinate citizenry than for any one of them to put their own citizens’ agency and welfare broadly above that of the Westphalian system.

    2. different clue

      Hollywood and the drug industry and the insurance industry and others are the people who will give Obama his big reward after he leaves office in return for what he has done/ will do for them while in office. If he can get TPP/TTIP passed and signed, he will get even more money after office. If he can’t , then that is just “that much less” money than otherwise which he will get after office.

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