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The Trans-Pacific Partnership trumps Congress, compromises American sovereignty and subverts republican government

| Saturday, March 26, 2016, 9:00 p.m.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership isn't what its proponents say it is —a trade agreement. Notice the name of the agreement itself, also known as the TPP, doesn't mention trade. Yes, many pages of the proposal deal with trade. But those are catnip designed to induce powerful business interests to support the agreement.

The partnership is more about political globalism than about economic globalization. It would create a new multilateral power structure (called “the commission”) run by an undemocratic, unaccountable elite. This commission would have broad powers that have nothing to do with trade and the mutual economic benefits that trade brings.

The proposed commission is outlined in Chapter 27 of the agreement. Its executive summary states that modifications or amendments to the agreement “would only apply following applicable domestic legal procedures, including congressional consultation and approval.”

However, in Chapter 27 itself, the promise of congressional oversight is nowhere to be found. Instead, when the commission moves to update and modify the agreement, it only has to “take into account” the work of other TPP-created committees; “relevant developments in international fora” (e.g. the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization); and “as appropriate” (whatever that means) “input from nongovernmental persons or groups of the parties.”

With Congress cut out of the picture, the Trans-Pacific Partnership commission will be, if not a law unto itself, at least an organization sealed off from the congressional oversight of trade that our Constitution mandates.

Once observed the Greek philosopher Isocrates, “Where there is a multitude of specific laws, it is a sign that the state is badly governed.” The partnership proposal has more pages (5,544) than our Constitution has words (4,400).

Indeed, recent events have shown us the folly of lengthy, complicated laws.

ObamaCare was 2,700 pages long (906 pages in the magnifying-glass version printed by the Government Printing Office). It has given rise to more than 10,000 small-type pages (averaging 1,100 words) of implementing regulations — regulations that have spawned well over 100 new government agencies, boards and programs.

The Dodd-Frank Act (848 small-print pages, 2,300 regular pages) has spewed forth 22,000 pages of regulations in its first five years, representing 247 of the 390 separate rules that the act calls for.

Both those laws were too complex and unwieldy. They have caused myriad problems and sluggish economic growth. They keep lawyers and bureaucrats busy. But they are burdensome for the overall economy. TPP promises to be more of the same — only worse, partly because it's even longer and partly because it will be out of reach of congressional (and therefore American citizen) oversight.

Yes, we need more trade. But we don't need an international bureaucracy that will trump Congress' constitutional prerogatives, compromise American sovereignty and subvert republican government. We need globalization, not globalism.

We should ditch the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Congress should immediately negotiate simple bilateral trade agreements with any country that wants to trade unsubsidized products and is willing to abide by the same rules that Americans obey.

Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist and fellow for economic and social policy at The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

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