Democrats’ Cave-In on TPP and TTIP. Good-Bye Democracy.

Eric Zuesse

On Wednesday afternoon, May 13th, a catastrophic failure became clear to the few honest Democrats who were determined to stop Obama’s disastrous ’trade deals’ which are actually going to transfer regulatory sovereignty away from elected government officials as at present (who are answerable to voters), and instead move these powers into the hands of international corporate cartels, which will have the final say over the safety of our air, water, automobiles, and other products, and of the environment, and of workers’ rights (and which regulations will become answerable instead to the controlling stockholders in those mega-corporations). Mega-corporations will set international standards, which none of the signatory nations within the TPP and TTIP will be legally able to exceed without paying heavy penalties to those corporations for violating those corporations’ ‘rights’ under these trade-deals. The current ability of individual nations to establish their own standards will disappear, except to the extent that international corporations allow.

Senators Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Harry Reid, and others that wanted to block Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority for these deals – Senators who were against this loss of democratic sovereignty and introduction of international fascism – counted the votes of their Democratic colleagues, and found that, whereas just a day earlier on May 12th the President was 8 votes short of what he needed in order to win this battle for the mega-corporations, that seeming progressive victory was fleeting; it was mostly just for show to the voters, to convince voters that their Senator had tried his or her best and won whatever concessions from the President and the conservatives, that remained possible, so that displaced American workers might receive some compensation for their lost jobs that will result from these international-trade treaties. In other words: a crumb might yet be won for what still remains of America’s labor unions. But product-safety, and the environment, will now be virtual free-fire zones for the large international corporations. 

On May 5th, The Hill had published the list of Senators who were for and against and swayable on this. It was headlined, “The Hill’s Whip List.” From what they reported, it seems that the only Senators who were definitely opposed to these bills, as of that time, were probably the following:


Richard Burr, NC

Rand Paul, KY


Tammy Baldwin, WI

Richard Blumenthal, CT

Sherrod Brown, OH

Bob Casey, PA

Al Franken, MN

Kirsten Gillibrand, NY

Martin Heinrich, NM

Patrick Leahy, VT

Joe Manchin, WV

Ed Markey, MA

Robert Menendez, NJ

Jeff Merkley, OR

Harry Reid, NV

Bernie Sanders, VT (Independent)

Brian Schatz, HI

Charles Schumer, NY

Debbie Stabenow, MI

Tom Udall, NM

Elizabeth Warren, MA

Sheldon Whitehouse, RI

That’s 22 of the 100 Senators. All the others are already either publicly committed to the large international corporations, or else are still bargaining with them, in one way or another, regarding how much financial support their re-election campaigns will be receiving. (And maybe even a few of these 22 will yet turn out to be for sale.) 

This is probably the reason why Senator Sherrod Brown was quoted in Huffington Post on May 13th as saying, “I can read votes. I also think that nobody saw us being successful yesterday three days out.” In other words: The token concession to labor unions that Harry Reid was able to swing from Mitch McConnell was the best deal that can be arranged, under the circumstances. 

This outcome was predicted by me on several occasions during the latter half of last year. I summed up on November 4th by noting that: 

For several months now, I have predicted that if no House Democrat would introduce a bill of impeachment against President Barack Obama (for whom I voted, incidentally), then Republicans on November 4th would elect not just one but both houses of Congress, and the closeted conservative Obama would be having a field day during his final two years signing into law lots of pro-big-business, anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti-environmental, legislation, which Democrats in both the House but especially the Senate have thus far been blocking. And, now, on Election Eve, this nightmare seems finally to be coming true. ….

It didn’t happen; and so we’ll get an all-conservative Government: Obama’s final two years in office will be spent signing conservative bills into laws that the majority of Democrats in both the House and Senate have, heretofore, blocked: laws reducing the cost-of-living adjustment in the Social Security formula, and approving the TTIP and TPP international trade deals that grant international corporations the power to control the regulations regarding the environment, consumer protection, drug safety, food safety, and virtually all regulatory matters. Republicans and Obama have wanted to transfer those national regulatory powers over to international corporations, but House and Senate Democrats did not; and, now, because there wasn’t a single House Democrat who had the courage to introduce a bill of impeachment against Obama, we will have a Government that is Republican in the House, Republican in the Senate, and Republican in the White House except on women’s issues, where Obama actually has been a Democrat. He hasn’t been lying about that one.

That statement was accompanied by a detailed analysis of the public polling on the question of impeaching Obama.

The only thing that stood even a chance of retaining the Senate for the Democrats was for a Democrat in the House to introduce a bill of impeachment against Obama. Not a single House Democrat stepped forward. That failure, of all House Democrats, was effectively the end of the chances to retain a vestige of democracy in America – and even throughout the other TPP and TTIP countries. It could possibly have prevented TPP and TTIP.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of  Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.