Is The Obama Administration Backing Off On Fast Track?

Dave Johnson

There are signs that the Obama administration is backing off from its push to get fast track trade promotion authority through Congress.

First it was 151 members of Congress signing a letter opposing fast track. Then, in the State of the Union address, President Obama barely mentioned fast track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Next, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced their opposition.

Now Vice President Joe Biden has reportedly told House Democrats the administration is backing off.

This is buried in a Politico report today that covered the annual House Democratic members’ retreat,

Biden also assured Pelosi and other Democrats that the White House would back off its push for fast-track authority on trade agreements, which Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have both opposed.

“Fast track” is the popular name for a process called trade promotion authority. Under the Constitution Congress is supposed to set trade policy, and review and amend trade agreements. Fast track sets aside Congress’ role, instead setting up a process that limits Congress’ ability to even discuss any trade agreements submitted. Congress has to vote within a very limited time, has limited room to debate, and cannot amend any agreements.

This rigged process enables the giant multinational corporations to set up an intense PR campaign right as the agreement is presented to Congress, and does not give the public time to rally opposition. The idea is that this prevents Congress from “meddling” with agreements. Of course, the result has been massive job losses, tens of thousands of factories and entire industries pushed out of the country and massive, enormous, humongous trade deficits that drain our economy.

Opposition Building, Thanks to You

Opponents of NAFTA and other “NAFTA-style” rigged trade agreements started early in their opposition to the upcoming TPP agreement. They have been organizing the public and providing information about the terrible effect these trade deals have had on our economy. As a result the public is turning against TPP and the fast track process that would be used to push TPP through.

The public has been calling and writing their elected officials, and these officials are responding. In the State of the Union address President Obama barely mentioned TPP and fast track. And now Biden appears to be confirming a pivot away from pushing this.

Celeste Drake at the AFL-CIO Now blog explains what is happening, in “Momentum Builds to Stop Fast Track Trade Deals, Thanks to You“:

Thanks to the efforts of tens of thousands of people—including people like you—more and more congressional leaders, including Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, are joining the chorus of voices standing up for us—America’s 99%—and saying that Fast Track is wrong.

Don’t Quit Now

The new progressive populism is having an effect. People are becoming more active, rising up and demanding their democratic voice be heard instead of corporate domination of our economy a and politics. Reid, Pelosi and even the administration backing off from fast track is a good sign, but we all need to keep pushing, keep fighting and keep our voices loud.

We the People do not want fast track or TPP; we want our government to Fix NAFTA First!!

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