By Connor D. Wolf
Critics from across the country Monday blocked traffic throughout Washington, D.C., to oppose the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal recently finalized by President Barack Obama.
The trade deal is likely to have a significant impact on global trade. At roughly 39 percent of the world’s GDP, it is the largest regional trade deal in history.Negotiations began in 2010 and by the end included a total of 12 countries. It has, however, garnered considerable opposition. To show their opposition to the trade deal, protesters marched through Washington D.C. stopping periodically to block traffic and demonstrate.
“It’s over 29 chapters of text and only five pertain to trade,” Travis White told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I don’t know if our congressmen will listen but we might get the people to notice.”
Capitol police were on hand throughout the march. While protesters did successfully block all lanes of traffic at times, police were able to keep at least one lane open during most stops.
Nevertheless, the demonstration caused considerable traffic congestion during the evening rush hour.
A main concern for critics is the way in which the deal was negotiated. Through much of the process the text of the deal remained a secret. It wasn’t released until after it was finalized.
Some believe the reason for this is because the true purpose of the deal is to benefit special interests and large corporations at the expense of ordinary people and the environment.
“We’re here protesting the TPP corporate giveaway,” Bob Gardiner noted to TheDCNF. “It’s longer than the Bible, no one knows what’s in it.”
The trade talks have caused a considerable rift between Obama and Democrat lawmakers. Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders have been among those more adamantly opposed to the deal.
Critics have compared the deal to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which they claim resulted in many American jobs being lost.
“I’m concerned about all of it,” Carolina Griffith with Orlando Light Brigade told TheDCNF. “We’re trying to stop the erosion of what little we have left of the middle class.”
Obama, though, has argued that deal could help fix many of the problems NAFTA caused. It is designed to gradually end thousands of import tariffs and other international trade barriers. It would also establish uniform rules for intellectual property, environment protections and open Internet access, even in communist Vietnam.
“I don’t think the media has done a good job discussing it because of Obama backing it,” John Michaels said to TheDCNF. “I think they tried to keep it quite.”
It will still need approval by Congress where is will likely face significant opposition.
Most Democrats and many Republicans oppose it. With the passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the trade deal has already managed to overcome a major challenge. Also known as fast-track, it was passed by Congress in June after a bitter fight in both the House and Senate. Fast-track allows the president to make trade deals with a straight up or down vote without amendment or filibuster.
“You’ll have a lot of liberals opposed to anything the Tea Party thinks on principal and support it because Obama does,” Michaels added.
The White House has argued on numerous occasions that the deal will help American workers. Obama has also countered critics who say the deal is being done in secret to mislead people. He noted the reason much the of deal wasn’t released was because it was still in the drafting phase and therefore didn’t actually exist yet.
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