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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/21/15

A Look At The Fast Track Bill Shows It's The Wrong Thing To Do

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-- Pretty much every identifiable progressive-aligned organization is against it, including human rights groups, environmental groups, faith groups, legal scholars, consumer groups, food-safety groups, LGBT groups and many, many others.

-- Big corporate groups argue that fast track brings us trade deals that are good for American jobs. We've heard this before and have learned that these giant, multinational companies care about their profits at the expense of American jobs because they can pocket the wage difference. Many of these giant multinational companies no longer even pay taxes back to our country.

-- Polls show that the public is overwhelmingly against it. (Even conservatives are opposed.)

-- House Speaker John Boehner, and Sens. Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch are for it.

-- Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown; and Reps. Keith Ellison, Donna Edwards, Alan Grayson, Rosa DeLauro and the Congressional Progressive Caucus; former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and many, many other noted progressives are against it.

-- Dave Johnson is against it -- and CAF is against it.

If you do want the details here is a detailed analysis of the bill from Public Citizen.

The Exit Ramp

This bill is publicly sold as providing Congress with an "exit ramp" that lets them revoke fast track if the trade bill that shows up does not meet the objectives Congress laid out in the fast track bill. However, for this to happen, regardless of whether a majority of House and Senate members want to revoke fast track, this must be approved by both the Republican-controlled Senate Finance and the Republican-controlled House Ways and Means committees, and then be passed by both chambers within 60 days. Only then could Congress go back to the normal process and vote to make changes they feel are needed.

Here is the tip-off to understanding this "exit ramp." This fast track bill calls on the administration to negotiate rules against currency manipulation in trade agreements like TPP, and a majority of the House and the Senate previously said they want this. (Note: the bill does not require "enforceable" rules.) But leaks (and the administration) tell us there are no currency rules in TPP and won't be. For those who wonder how this can be, the previous fast track for NAFTA, WTO and other trade pacts also called for currency rules that never appeared, but fast track was never revoked. In other words, this exit ramp leads right back onto the freeway.

TPP And The Harm Past Trade Agreements Have Done To Our Country

We don't yet know what is in TPP because it is still secret and will remain so until shortly before the fast track process requires Congress to vote. The President says to trust him, it will be great and "progressive" and create lots of jobs and expand the economy. Great. But the history on our trade deals has been very bad -- especially those passed using fast track.

NAFTA was sold as creating a lot of jobs and growing the economy but NAFTA destroyed jobs and expanded the trade deficit. China's entry into the World Trade Organization was sold as creating a lot of jobs and growing the economy but it turned out to be absolutely devastating for America's working people and middle class and entire manufacturing ecosystem, and the trade deficit with China is now enormous. As a result of these agreements entire regions of the country look like wastelands. Seriously, go look at Detroit.

Everyone has experienced or knows someone who was laid off when their job was sent out of the country, or has been threatened with that if they get uppity and don't take pay and benefit cuts. Most working people now live in fear of that happening to them.

Even with all of that damage done to this country and to the morale of American working people those trade agreements were never revoked. This is because the wages that used to go to American working people went into a few pockets, and the people who got the benefit of those trade deals now control the levers of power of our government.

And everyone understands this.

So there are a lot of reasons to fear that another trade agreement, negotiated in secret by corporate representatives with other stakeholders like labor and environmentalists kept away, will yield the same results. Even the President says, "I'm the first one to admit that past trade deals haven't always lived up to the hype."

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Dave has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational (more...)
 

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