Background: In a new draft chapter leaked to the public on November 13, 2013, it's been revealed that a secretive trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), could do as much to wipe out democratic checks on the misbehavior of big corporations, in the United States and other nations representing a combined 40 percent of the world's GDP,  as direct voter disenfranchisement and similar recent attacks on public participation in politics.
If you have strong opinions on making medical care affordable for everyone, preserving the promise of Medicare and Medicaid, regulating exposure to toxic industrial and agricultural chemicals, or setting workplace protections for low-income and pregnant workers, or even freely accessing information about these topics on the Internet, the TPP is a direct attack on your ability to vote for the people who make these decisions. Under the TPP, corporations will get to write the framework for these laws for all member countries, and greedy investors can use them to sue for taxpayer dollars to make up their profits if lawmakers decide later to put their constituents first. 
Right now, while only three government representatives from each member nation have access to the full text, that privilege is also granted to 600 'trade advisers' representing such major U.S. corporations as Walmart, Monsanto, Chevron, and many others. Previously leaked parts of the agreement already look set to threaten both Medicaid cost controls and Medicare prescription drug savings for U.S. seniors and persons with disabilities,  in a country where patients already pay more than counterparts in other wealthy nations because of corporate-friendly policies. Further, the documents released today show definitively that Doctors Without Borders was right to say that "the TPP agreement is on track to become the most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines in developing countries." 
The TPP takes away the ability of local and national lawmakers to negotiate lower healthcare costs for their citizens by allowing corporations to sue governments in international arbitration forums  on the sole basis that laws passed by a member nation are hurting their profits.  Over 500 cases have been brought against 95 governments by corporations challenging environmental and financial regulations under similar provisions in previous trade agreements, with billions in judgments outstanding,  and the TPP opens the door wide to even more aggressive claims that corporate investors' rights to profit should trump public welfare. 
Right now, not even members of Congress have the right to see the full text, and when an agreement is finalized, they may not even have the authority to do more than vote yes or no on it. Don't you think we should all be able to see what we're getting out of this 'trade' agreement?
 - "Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)" by WikiLeaks staff, November 13, 2013.
 - "NAFTA on Steroids" by Lori Wallach, The Nation, June 27, 2012.
 - Open letter to President Barack Obama, by the AARP, AFSCME, Consumers Union, et al., November 8, 2013.
 - "Trading Away Health: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)" by Doctors Without Borders staff, March 4, 2013.
 - "Newly Leaked TPP Investment Chapter Contains Special Rights for Corporations" by Citizens Trade Campaign, June 13, 2012.
 - "Trans-Pacific Partnership: Larger than NAFTA?" by Josh Eidelson, Salon, June 14, 2012.
 - "Responsible Trade Program: Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement" by Sierra Club's Labor and Trade Campaign, 2013.
 - "House Pushing Back on Trade Deal; More Detail on How Secret Arbitration Panels Undermine Laws and Regulations" by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, November 13, 2013.