Rep. Reed: “America’s Law has to be Primary”, but…

There have been articles posted recently on the NewNY23rd debating the Trans-Pacific-Partnership trade agreement. Although they focused on many TPP issues, one that problems-3I one I find most disturbing is trade agreements have  Investor State Dispute Settlement Tribunals. They are  three arbitrators that makes final, binding decisions when conflicts arise between multi-national corporations and an Agreement Partner Country. One article described the tribunals “secret, corporate…to protect profits”. The other article compares them to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rep. Reed had  Town Hall Meetings last Saturday. I was able to attend the Town of Wheeler meeting. Between discussing audience concerns about the lack of jobs, lack of Fracking, lack of highway salt, lack of a tax base, lack of EMS Volunteers, too much Obamacare, and one bad Iranian deal, Reed’s sidekick Joe, picked my TPP question for our congressman to reply to.

“Could the United States be sued by a country like Viet Nam if we raise our minimum wage, or change an environmental regulation?” After Reed explained the question and trade agreements to the audience he gave the following response

Q: So you are saying that the trade agreement will not trump United States  laws?

Reed: That’s my understanding. If the trade agreement is negotiated property, the  dispute resolution mechanism s part of the agreement   When the Australian Supreme  Court came in on that case that is brought up a lot, the Philip Morris case, the packaging with the  cigarette case, the Supreme Court said “no”that the agreement doesn’t trump “our law”. Now it is going through this mechanism and in theory…

Q: Australian doesn’t…

Reed: Australia said their laws apply. The agreement does’t go around Australian Laws. Now they are trying to go going through this Dispute Resolution process to say that “we disagree with Australia.” and we are going to let the agreement dictates otherwise. It’s complicated but the bottom line is any agreement we negotiate America’s Law has to be primary. We need to make sure that when we negotiate these things everybody recognizes that we are playing by America’s laws.”

Although Rep. Reed said that in the treaty the Country’s law trumps the negotiated treaty, that “America’s Law is primary”, and “everybody recognizes that we are playing with America’s laws”,  he also said that after the Australian Supreme Court made a decision, Philip Morris appealed their decision to the Dispute Resolution Tribunal.

If someone can appeal the Supreme Court’s ruling, then the Surpeme Court really isn’t Supreme. The Tribunal will look the language in the negotiated Agreement, and international law, and decide if the Australian Law is upheld. (Please note: It was reported in a comment to one of the articles that the Philip Morris appointed one of the arbitrator, Australia appointed one and  The Secretary-General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration appointed the third arbitrator.)

Rep. Reed gets summaries of the negotiations but they are still in progress. I understand that the multi-national corporations need to know the rules and each country has different rules. But are trade agreements so important to us that we give a group of three the power to negate our laws?

If the TPP is fast-tracked Congress has to either vote for it, or against it. They an not create amendments. It is either a “Yay” or “Nay”. Will Rep. Reed feel that “America’s Law has to be primary” and vote against this agreement? Or will he only see the profits being made by the multinational corporations change his mind?

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About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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3 Responses to Rep. Reed: “America’s Law has to be Primary”, but…

  1. whungerford says:

    Tom Reed may be mistaken, or he may be disingenuous. ISDS tribunal decisions don’t overturn laws, but decisions are binding as has been documented over and over on New NY 23rd. If Australia loses to Phillip Morris, Australia may have to pay heavy damages. Here is what the government of Australia has to say about it. Note that Australia is sued under existing agreements; TPP might make that more difficult, not easier. Also, the FDA is being sued by tobacco companies in a domestic dispute over tobacco regulation having nothing to do with foreign trade.

    http://www.ag.gov.au/tobaccoplainpackaging

  2. Anne says:

    You have to hand it to corporate America; they really knew what they were doing when they bought Reed’s seat at the table. A complete dim bulb (I honestly don’t think he has the intellectual powers to grasp the import of any of his actions), someone with no moral center, whose spirit animal is Mammon, and who doesn’t even realize his own impotence. His business overlords are yanking on all those strings, and Reed still thinks he’s dancing on his own. A pity that he’s dragging the rest of us down in his wake. Still, I find solace in the thought that Karma is the final teacher. I hope I’m around to witness Reed’s lessons, when they finally appear.

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