Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fast-tracking trade deals is the last thing workers need right now

Be very afraid. Corporate CEOs are lobbying Congress for a renewal of fast-track authority.

That means they want lawmakers to quickly approve trade deals negotiated in secret -- without any amendments and limited debate.

The last thing we need is for Congress to fast-track a trade deal with secret provisions that help their corporate benefactors but screw working and middle class families.

While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable rolled out a new coalition this week falsely touting the benefits of fast-track for regular Americans, Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, gave the real low down:
With a powerful gang of corporations eager to use massive agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), now under negotiation, or the looming U.S.-EU Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) to steamroll policies supported by the public and enacted by Congress, the threats posed by such an extreme procedure are severe.
Like what? A rollback of Congress' recent Wall Street reforms, says Sen. Elizabeth Warren. An undermining of the medicine cost savings of Obamacare, says a groups of state legislators trying to implement that policy. Plans to expand extreme investor privileges that offshore thousands of jobs. A ban on Buy American provisions that create thousands of jobs. Gutting of critical food safety improvements, says Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Congress' greatest food safety champion. And, then there is a backdoor sneak-in of draconian copyright rules reminiscent of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
Wallach said fast track authority limits the public's ability to comment on trade agreements and allows bad policy to be put in place. Most Americans would feel the fallout from the use of fast track because the agreements they push through would affect job security, food safety, and environmental protections. It also gives unelected trade representatives the authority to set policy.

So why would the Obama administration want fast-track authority? A big reason is the TPP. The 17th round of secret TPP talks just concluded in Lima, Perus.

Wallach notes the White House will need all the help it can get to have the trade agreement approved. That's why opponents need to work hard to sack the idea:
Getting U.S. trade negotiators under the control of Congress and the public could not be more urgent, given the TPP and TAFTA negotiations and the vast implications of those looming agreements. In fact, as my new book shows, about every two decades Congress has come up with a new mechanism to manage trade pact negotiations and approval as the scope of agreements changed. Until now.
The Teamsters believe U.S. citizens, not unelected trade negotiators, need more say in the process. Join us in opposing the granting of fast-track trade authority. Contact your congressional representatives and tell them to say no to corporate interests and yes to American workers.