Statue of Justice atop New York City Hall, 260 Broadway, New York City. This statue is a rarity in that here Justice is not wearing a blindfold.
(image by John Wisniewski)
Senator Ron Wyden (D, OR.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, outlines what he thinks is necessary in a 21st century trade agreement in this speech given April 10, 2014. He lays it out articulately and clearly. Progressives will find nothing to disagree with in Senator Wyden's vision of what a trade agreement should look like.
The problem is that the trade agreements he imagines do not exist. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) have both been negotiated in secrecy and without the constitutionally required Congressional oversight. Key provisions of these treaties are the opposite of the ideals of the Senator's imaginary treaties. The United States Trade Representative has consistently opposed changes to the actual treaties that would move them in the direction of the Senator's imaginary treaty.
TPP Fast Track
(image by stopfasttrack)
In effect, his speech is a red herring the size of a white whale.
The United States has hundreds of International Treaties. All but sixteen (16) have been passed by the process prescribed in the United States Constitution, that is with the advice and consent of the Senate and with a two thirds majority vote. Those that were passed via the obviously unconstitutional "Fast Track" process were bad deals for the American people. NAFTA, the WTO, and the other 14 trade treaties lead to the export of millions of good paying American jobs and closure of thousands of manufacturing plants. "Smart Track" is nothing more than "Fast Track" under a new name.
If Senator Wyden or others plan to write a trade treaty of the type imagined by Senator Wyden, there will be ample time to get the advice and consent of the Senate and to follow the process for treaty ratification clearly and unambiguously described in the Constitution. A treaty that contains the qualities advocated in the Senator's speech would have no problem gaining the support of the American people and the required two thirds majority in the Senate.
The real trade treaties, that are anathema to the Senator's imagined treaty, can only be ratified under "Fast Track" legislation. Calling it "Smart Track" is nothing but semantics.
Senator Wyden begs this question: Why is the process for treaty ratification laid out in the Constitution of the United States being ignored.
The founders of the United States had good reason to set high standards for treaty ratification. International treaties take precedence over U.S. law. Federal, State, and local law must be changed to conform to the language in treaties that are ratified. Under the Constitution, International Treaties must be negotiated with the "Advise and consent" of the Senate and ratified by a two thirds (2/3) majority of the Senate. (Article 2, section 2, paragraph 2)
Article 6, paragraph 2 provides for treaties taking precedence over U.S. law.
The Constitution of the United States was written to limit and define the powers of the government of the United States. It divides that government into three (3) branches, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The Bill of Rights was added to further limit the powers of government. The Constitution could not have been adopted without the Bill of Rights. The Constitution begins with "We the People". It is written in plain English, takes up only four (4) pages, and can be easily understood by "We the People". It, and the Bill of Rights, were written as a defense against tyrannical government. (The full text of the Constitution can be found here: http://constitutionus.com/ )
Senator Wyden should take the time to reread it. He did take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend it.
A more detailed discussion on the unconstitutional nature of any "Fast Track" or "Smart Track" legislation can be found is an earlier article.
Senator Wyden's speech is nothing more than an attempt to redirect discussion to an imaginary treaty that will never be written and to use that as a basis for passing "Smart Track" legislation that will be used to pass the TPP and TATIP.