Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Congress takes first steps toward Fast Track

Shipyard worker whose job was shipped overseas
protests the TPP in Congress.
The man who is secretly negotiating the job-killing trade deal known as the TPP came to Congress today asking for fast-track authority.

It's our job to make sure he doesn't get it. If we kill fast track, we kill the TPP.

Fast track is a cheap political trick that lets Congress approve trade deals the public doesn't want.

Mark Froman, the U.S. Trade Representative, testified in Congress even as negotiators in New York City were secretly wrapping up the 12-nation deal.

Leaks of the text indicate the TPP is very much like NAFTA and CAFTA and all the other treaties that are destroying good U.S. jobs. TPP will lower wages, ship jobs overseas, undermine food safety, raise the cost of medicines, despoil the environment and empower multinational corporations to overturn government regulations that affect their profit.


It's going to be a tough fight to defeat fast track, but there's hope. This morning, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said to Froman, "If trade agreements can't show they're going to help the middle class...I've got some real problems with them." (Perhaps the protesters who marched to his office yesterday had an impact.)

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, criticized the TPP talks because members of Congress are severely constrained from reviewing the text. He also grilled Froman on the failure of the S. Korea trade deal to create the jobs promised.

And there were protests.

According to the Daily Dot,
It began during a speech from U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the U.S.’s highest official charged with negotiating the deal. Margaret Flowers, a member of Physicians for a National Healthcare plan and a longstanding TPP critic, burst in carrying a sign reading “Trading away our future,” and shouting “we know the Trans-Pacific Partnership is negotiated in secret!” 
As she was being escorted away by security, a pair of male protesters entered from another door. 
“You’re going to super-size NAFTA!” one yelled, as the other simply repeated “No TPP!” The two unfurled a banner behind Froman, who stared straight ahead with an annoyed look on his face. 
Then a third wave hit: Three protestors sitting behind Froman held up other signs, like one reading “Fast track constitutional train wreck.” 
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, called for order. “Comments from the audience are inappropriate, are out of order,” he said, perhaps ironically given protester’s qualm that lobbyists, instead of citizens of the countries involved, are given access to TPP negotiations.  
Hatch invited Froman to continue. But he was interrupted by a fourth protest, an older man in a suit who yelled, “It’s a fraud! Big business corporate secret deals!” (See gifs of the protests here.)