fresh voices from the front lines of change







When former Maryland governor and current presidential candidate Martin O’Malley spoke on Wednesday to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, he became the second Democratic presidential candidate to come out forcefully on the campaign trail against fast-track trade authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I believe that the Trans Pacific Partnership is bad for us as a country,” said O’Malley. ”I am opposed to anything we’re not allowed to read before our representatives have to vote on it.”

O’Malley made that statement on what was a huge day for the coalition of organizations campaigning against fast track. The organizations had declared Wednesday a National Day of Action, urging calls to House members in opposition to the legislation. More than 2,000 people used the Campaign for America’s Future’s click-to-call-Congress service on Wednesday.

If passed, fast track prohibits the Congress from amending trade agreements, requires these agreements to be voted on within 90 days, limits Congressional debate, and prohibits filibusters.

O’Malley joins fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders as a staunch critic of the trade deal. On his own petition webpage regarding the deal, Sanders states that fast-tracking the TPP would lead to a “global race to the bottom.”

Both candidates have cited the example of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), explaining that a similar treaty that encourages outsourcing would be disastrous.

“After what we saw with NAFTA and the dislocation and loss of jobs that it created here in the U.S.… I think we need to focus on what makes us stronger as an economy at home,” explained O’Malley at Wednesday’s press conference.

On Sanders’ webpage, he states that the TPP “follows in the footsteps of other unfettered free trade agreements like NAFTA.” He explains that “these corporately backed trade agreements have significantly contributed to the race to the bottom, the collapse of the American middle class and increased wealth and income inequality. The TPP is more of the same, but even worse.”

In contrast to Sanders and O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, a Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat who just announced his bid Wednesday, is siding with supporters of the trade deal. He has said in the past when asked about the TPP that he “assumes President Barack Obama will negotiate a good deal.” In his campaign speech on Wednesday, he made a point of stating his openness to the trade deal.

“For me waging peace includes negotiating fair trade agreements that set standards for labor practices, environmental protections, preventing currency manipulation and protection of intellectual property among others,” he said. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership has the potential to set fair guidelines for the robust commerce taking place in the Pacific Rim.”

Hillary Clinton is the only Democratic presidential candidate who has kept quiet regarding her opinion on the fast track bill. On in late April, Robert Borosage explained why Clinton needs to take a stand:

Clinton announced her campaign saying she wanted to be a ‘champion of everyday people.’ When the battle is joined and the fighting is fierce, champions do not stand on the sidelines. They aren’t “closing watching” to see who wins. They are leading, lifting spirits, pointing the way. The president has raised the furies around fast track. It is time for Clinton to take a stand.

With the major impact on jobs, the environment, and workers’ rights that the TPP will have, Clinton needs to join the other candidates and publicly offer a clear opinion. Denouncing this horrible deal will help steer more progressives to her campaign.

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