April 17, 2015

Yesterday, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), and Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) struck a deal to introduce Fast Track legislation to limit the ability of Congress to debate and amend the TPP and to speed its approval in the face of rapidly growing public resistance.

We can expect a massive PR campaign from the administration, corporations, and corporatist politicians featuring the same distortions, misrepresentations, and outright lies that were used to build public support for previous trade agreements that in the end turned out to strengthen corporate rights at the expense of democracy, jobs, working people, nature, and the new economy.

Typical is the newsletter Senator Wyden sent out justifying his decision to join with Republican corporatists to push through Fast Track authority. In his newsletter he claims that his Fast Track bill will require signatory nations to “adopt and maintain international labor standards” and “live up to international environmental agreements.” He neglects to mention that the TPP will significantly limit the ability of these same nations to set standards above the limited international standards. Nor does he mention it will require them to compensate transnational corporations for profits lost due to the imposition of higher standards.

Senator Wyden also assures us that his Fast Track bill “requires that no trade agreement can override U.S. law without congressional approval.” He fails to mention that even if the final TPP agreement does provide such provision, it doesn’t change the provision that gives corporations the right to sue governments for lost profits due to enforcement of such laws. The actual bill sponsored by Senator Wyden in fact requires that each of the provisions outlined in my article on the TPP leaked investment chapter be included in the final TPP pretty much as stated in the leaked draft investment chapter. (For more on this, read “A Trade Deal That Makes It Illegal to Favor Local Business? Newest Leak Shows TPP Would Do More Than That“, a recent article I wrote for YES! Magazine.)

I side with the unions that are putting politicians on notice. In the words of Marc Perrone, international president of the 1.3 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW),

“Let me be very clear, no elected official, regardless of political party, who is truly interested in making the economy better and fairer, can responsibly support the TPP. Simply put, this trade deal, like so many others, is bad for our workers, families, and shared future.

“In the end, while we may not be able to change every mind, we will remember those elected officials who stood with America’s workers by voting for jobs and against another destructive trade deal. More to the point, we join with the AFL-CIO and other unions that refuse to support any member of Congress that decides to put narrow self-interests above the interests of hard-working families.”