fresh voices from the front lines of change







Even as the government is shut down, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) corporate-dominance treaty rolls on. President Obama is supposed to meet with leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next week in Bali, Indonesia. He will discuss TPP. The President is asking for “fast track” authority to push TPP through Congress.

In June 230 members of Congress — from both parties — sent a letter to President Obama, asking that currency manipulation be addressed in the TPP. Also in June Ford’s CEO spoke out on the issue. In July US automakers started getting louder on this, and in August US automakers said they would oppose TPP if it is not addressed.

They — 230 members of Congress along with US automakers — were ignored, with US TPP negotiator Michael Froman saying to Congress in September he was making “no specific commitment to deal with it in the Pacific trade deal talks.”

Then 60 Senators sent a letter on the same topic. Also in September “a coalition of nine agricultural, manufacturing and service industry groups said they were ‘concerned that the TPP as negotiated to date has yet to achieve the level of ambition pledged by the governments.’ ” And in September Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME), Chairman of the House Trade Working Group, sent a letter to Froman urging him to “level the playing field” for American companies trying to compete against state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

“I am worried the agreement will not in practice level the playing field for American companies, particularly our small and medium-sized enterprises, trying to compete against SOEs. I urge the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to ensure any SOE disciplines are subject to a dispute settlement mechanism that will provide accessible, timely, and effective relief for American businesses and workers,” wrote Michaud.

So the bar is set: 230 members of Congress, 60 Senators, nine agricultural, manufacturing and service industry groups, and US automakers.

Bloomberg has a TPP story today, Democrats Balk at Obama’s Fast-Track on Pacific Trade, explaining,

A growing chorus of lawmakers is calling for trade negotiators to address issues including currency manipulation, food-safety standards and competition with state-backed competitors as the administration seeks “fast-track” authority to smooth eventual passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

That “fast track” authority is the key. “Fast track” means that Congress can’t exercise its constitutional responsibility to scrutinize and amend the agreement. It also means that any vote on the agreement will occur in a rush, while the giant multinational corporations engaged in a massively funded PR Astroturf campaign to scare people about jobs and taxes and terrorism and anything else they need to say to get people to look the other way while Congress hands them the power to overrule our democracy.

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