GUEST BLOG: Lori Wallach – Defeat of Fast Track Package Highlights Americans’ Concerns About the TPP

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Defeat of Fast Track Package Highlights Americans’ Concerns About the Trans-Pacific Partnership – Senate-Passed Bill NOT Adopted

The Fast Track package sent over from the Senate was rejected today by the House because two years of effort by a vast corporate coalition, the White House and Republican leaders – and weeks of procedural gimmicks and deals swapped for yes votes –could not assuage Americans’ concerns that more of the same trade policy would kill more jobs and push down wages.  Even as President Barack Obama, in a highly unusual move, came to the Capitol at the last moment to appeal directly to Democrats, the House rejected the Senate-passed bill enacting Fast Track, creating an even more uncertain future for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

To try to save face, the Republican congressional leadership called a vote on just the Fast Track portion of the trade bill after the initial staggering defeat of the broader measure. However, legally that vote has no meaning because the rule of House consideration of the Fast Track package required that all aspects of the bill be approved or the Senate-passed bill was deemed rejected by the House. And, the Fast Track portion of the package cannot pass the Senate free-standing without the portion that was voted down in the House. Although these procedural matters may seem arcane, the bottom line is that the legislation enacting Fast Track was not passed by the House despite a massive effort by the White House, Republican congressional leaders and a might corporate coalition.

What became clear in the contentious debate about Fast Track in recent weeks is the growing discontent in Congress about the contents of the TPP.  The lack of enforceable currency manipulation standards; the potential exposure of U.S. health and environmental protections to investor-state challenges; concerns about food safety, medicine prices and internet freedom; and insufficient assurances that labor, human rights, and environmental protections will be meaningful or enforceable have all become major flashpoints in the U.S. congressional debate.

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After years of deadline-missing negotiations and mounting TPP opposition among prominent economists and thousands of civil society organizations across the political spectrum, the TPP was already hanging by a thread.  While the White House and Republican leaders may try to regroup and slice and dice the controversial provisions some other way, the House’s refusal today to adopt the Fast Track legislation sent over from the Senate leaves an uncertain path for both the TPP and Fast Track.

Passing trade bills opposed by a majority of Americans does not get easier with delay because the more time people have to understand what’s at stake, the angrier they get and the more they demand that their congressional representatives represent their will.

The crazy gimmicks employed to try to overcome what polls show is broad opposition to Fast Track actually backfired. Yesterday, the House Republican leadership put most Republican representatives on record in favor of cutting Medicare by $700 million with a vote on a procedural gimmick. Today, it was Democrats’ ire about a gutted version of a program to assist workers who will be hurt by the trade agreements Fast Track would enable that was the proximate cause of the meltdown. That program was included only to try to provide cover for the two dozen Democrats who would even consider supporting Fast Track at all.

Today’s outcome is a testament to the strength and diversity of the remarkable coalition of thousands of organizations that overcame a money-soaked lobbying campaign by multinational corporations and intense arm-twisting by the Republican House leadership and the Obama administration. The movement now demanding a new American trade policy is larger and more diverse than in any preceding trade policy fight. It includes everyone from small business leaders and labor unions to Internet freedom advocates and faith groups to family farmers and environmentalists to consumer advocates and LGBT groups to retirees and civil rights groups to law professors and economists.

 

Lori Wallach is the Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

8 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Lori for the clear explanation of the process that has derailed Fast-track for now.

    Given the effort by corporations and those who would rule the world through institutionalised property rights over humane considerations will return for another go.

    Here in godzone we need to ensure that our parliament and public have a decent opportunity to review all that TPP and TiSA means.

    We can do that by lobbying all politicians to ensure they support the Fletcher Tabuteau member’s bill; ‘Fighting Foreign Corporate Control Bill,’ which would stop the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions being allowed under NZ Law!

    Dedicated folk spent a Sunday in May delivering 20,000 leaflets informing Peter Dunne’s electorate of the implications of TPP and the importance of Dunne’s voting the correct way on this important measure.

    We need to insurance in case Dunne is an idiot on this, so ACT’s David Seymour and all National MPs need attention. The small ‘c’ conservatives are concerned for NZ’s future and despair at the implications of globalisation in their regions.

    Finally the people’s party the Labour Party needs to commit to adopting this measure in line with their party policy from their 2012 National Conference where their members (you’d think this would count in a democratic organisation) overwhelmingly supported remits 34 and 35. See pdf from It’s Our Future on Party positions:

    http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Party-policies.pdf

    We need a national discussion on ;what we really stand for; not just ‘what’s on our flag.’

    If we stand for our people and our community’s well-being then these values need to be reflected in our public policies and our legislative Acts.

    This is what government ought to do and reflect.

  2. Yes lori the corporations are our common enemy here and are attempting to take over the globe with their power without any concerns for Humanity.

    Corpocracy is the new Communism of our history and the enemy of the people.

    Remember when in 1970’s US Government had major concerns about the monopoly of AT&T telephone company and forced a breakup of their corporation?

    Well AT&T was a minnow compared to the giant corporations today who control all government’s everywhere and will be the cause of our next global war.

    Keep your eye on this weekends Bilderberg conference now opening in Austria Hitler’s birthplace and Bilderberg Groups home also.

    They will be discussing TISA/TPPA and the new world order among other plans and Key may possibly be there as he was in 2011-12, in Switzerland/UK so we are watching for secretive plans to emerge via leaks.

    http://www.infowars.com/bilderberg-2015-in-austria-will-be-like-none-before-it/

    J Key is a hired gun for Bilderberg?

    Privatisation of every social/public services in on the Bilderberg agenda and as NZ PM is FJK also attending this secretive hotbed of Global power hungry corporations & elitist’s’ this weekend?

  3. Please someone, just throw the whole thing in the bin, where it belongs. The TPPA is never going to be for the good of your average person, it is simply another way for corporations to make, even more money. Bin it!

  4. Wall Street caused the GFC FFS.

    Now Wall Street want TPP?

    Even more reason NOT to support anything to TPP. Wall street hasn’t even paid the world back for the last bit of corporate greed yet.

    No way TPPA!

    • TPP is being voted on in secret again tomorrow tues usa time, hidden in another trade deal. Seems once one trade is passed the others can go through
      at same time. checkout Forbidden Knowledge.tv

      • Look at Wake up new Zealand its not good ,in fact its very worrying.The take over of the world is being discussed.

  5. We have seen this before. Anyone remember another “Low Wage Treaty” (to quote Richard Stallman) called the Multi-laterial Agreement on Investment?
    http://www1.oecd.org/daf/mai/htm/2.htm

    The MAI was defeated in the early 2000s by a similar broad coalition of “small business leaders and labor unions to Internet freedom advocates and faith groups to family farmers and environmentalists to consumer advocates and LGBT groups to retirees and civil rights groups to law professors and economists.” I can’t help but notice the pro-GE propaganda machine spinning up again around too. Why do we, the people, seem to have to spend our precious few hours of free time volunteering to fight the same political battles over and over again?

    It seems to me the answer is that we need more than a change of policy, or a change of government, we need a change of system. For as long as they exist, corporations will keep funding spindoctors and astroturf groups to attack the public interest, and we, the people, we keep needing to defend it.

    It’s time to replace corporations with economic entities which are legally obligated to put the public interest at least on par with their solvency. To replace managerialism and hierarchy with workplace democracy. To replace investor-owned global companies with local, community-owned and/or or worker-owned companies, linked together in co-operative networks (eg the way open source organisations work, or the way organic farms, distributions networks like Ceres and Chantelle, and local organic shops work autonomously but in mutually supportive networks). We can do it, and if we want a just, sustainable future, we must.

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