Why We Don’t Like Fast Track: It’s an Outdated and Undemocratic Policy

Photo courtesy of StopFastTrack/Flickr

Fast Track—it’s a term that’s in the news more lately these days. And for good reason. Early in January, Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) have introduced a bill that would bring back a bad idea that’s been dead since 2007.

Sign the petition to stop Fast Track dead in its tracks.

This Fast Track bill would re-establish a process (first used in the Nixon administration) that allows a trade deal negotiated in secret to pass Congress under a process that allows no amendments, limited debate and not nearly enough public scrutiny. Ever since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), trade agreements have been about much more than reducing tariffs. Now they are about providing extreme patent protections for pharmaceutical companies, promoting deregulation, weakening “Buy American” policies and providing extraordinary legal rights and privileges to large, foreign corporations. Should those policies really be made behind closed doors, out of the public view?

Whatever justification there may have been in the past for this undemocratic policy, surely we can do better today. We know from experience that once legislators have the Fast Track ticket in their hands, they are likely to finalize an agreement that will send jobs overseas, hold down wages, harm small businesses and give global corporations even more influence over our economy. Workers, communities and small businesses—in the United States and in the countries we trade with—need updated, 21st century trade and economic policies that promote good jobs and benefits for all, not simply massive profits for a few.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Let’s Stop the ‘Fast Track’ to Bigger Trade Deficits and Lower Wages

Let's Stop the 'Fast Track' to Bigger Trade Deficits and Lower Wages

Congress is considering new legislation that would “fast track” new trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), moving them through Congress more quickly by limiting the transparency, accountability and oversight necessary for such trade deals to serve America’s working families rather than extreme corporate interests.  Republicans Dave Camp (Mich.), Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the fast track legislation and AFL-CIO has launched a petition calling on Congress to oppose this undemocratic and anti-worker legislation.  While proponents of these trade deals often make bold promises about the benefits of such agreements, in reality they do little more than increase trade deficits and hurt America’s working families.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently made it clear how strongly the labor federation opposed fast track:

The Trade Promotion Authority bill submitted today by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus and Senate Finance Ranking Member Orrin Hatch is out of date, poorly conceived and bad for American workers. For that reason, the AFL-CIO opposes this legislation in the strongest of terms and will actively work to block its passage.

As we’ve seen previously, such deals increase our trade deficits and they often do so at the detriment of not only the American economy, but the rights of workers in the countries we trade with.  NAFTA alone has led to the displacement of 700,000 jobs.  Workers in countries like Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Jordan and Bahrain, have been the targets of detention, persecution, threats, and murder.  These deals frequently lead to increased corporate profits and control of the world economy and less and less life, liberty, and happiness pursuit for workers.

Working families and their advocates are standing up against these trade deals and things like fast track that make these deals less democratic and accountable to the people.  In New York, a group of lawmakers, union, and environmental activists is took to the steps of City Hall to protest fast track.

New York AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said that the TPP proposal “will not provide adequate transparency, accountability, or oversight. It fails to protect American workers and American jobs.”  Rep. José E. Serrano (D-NY) echoed those sentiments: “Fast-tracking is simply a way in my opinion, of doing things without Congress really knowing about it. We’re always told that these trade agreements will create jobs, and a better environment, and then five years later we find out it’s not true.”

Sign the petition and tell Congress that repeating failed policies is not the way to create jobs and grow the economy.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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