Two big developments are following quickly behind President Obama’s soft-pedaling in his State of the Union address of his administration’s attempt to fast-track a seriously damaging Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty through Congress.
The most consequential action comes from Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, who was quoted today as saying he does not support the fast-track legislation and might not even allow it to come to the Senate floor for a vote.
“I’m against fast track,” Reid said of the enhanced trade authority bill drafted by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) that would speed up congressional consideration of trade deals.
Reid said he might not even let the bill come to the floor.
“We’ll see,” he said. “Everyone would be well advised just to not push this right now.”
Reid has read the handwriting on the wall. Fast-track approval for the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a global trade deal that has been negotiated in secret and heavily influenced by lobbyists for multinationals – is deeply unpopular, not only within a progressive coalition of labor, environmentalists, health care reformers and net neutrality advocates, but among anti-big-business conservatives as well.
That grassroots unpopularity is underscored by a poll released today by Hart Research Associates and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, commissioned by the Communication Workers of America, Sierra Club, and the U.S. Business and Industry Council.
“By more than two to one, voters say they oppose (62 percent) rather than favor passage of fast-track negotiating authority for the TPP deal,” according to the polling memo.
On that question, the opposition to “giv[ing] the president fast-track authority” for the Trans-Pacific Partnership breaks largely along partisan lines – framed that way, Republicans are overwhelmingly opposed while Democrats are narrowly in favor. But the pollsters found that when they drilled down to substantive issues related to the trade provisions and their potential impact, opposition became even more intense.
Almost seven out of 10 survey respondents said that it was important for Congress to “review trade agreements carefully” to ensure the provisions are in the best interests of the public. Broad majorities of those surveyed are concerned that the trade agreement would foster “unfair competition” from low-wage countries that would cost American jobs, it would undermine environmental and safety protections, and would boost multinational corporations at the expense of American small businesses.
“After hearing this extensive debate, the public rejects fast-track by a slightly larger margin – 65 percent express opposition, including 45 percent who are strongly opposed,” the polling memo said.
Congress still needs to hear your voice of opposition to any trade deal written behind closed doors that will encourage more jobs to be shipped overseas and further erode the economic, environmental and political conditions for workers around the globe. Send a message to Congress today that you stand with Sen. Harry Reid in opposing fast-track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.