Complete Capitulation on Trade Promotion Authority

With people like Rachel Maddow predicting tight passage of Trade Promotion Authority in the House and an easy victory in the Senate, we’d better hope she’s wrong.

Gaius Publius has a devastating takedown of the Wyden-Hatch-Ryan Fast Track Bill over at Yves Smith’s place based on an analysis by Lori Wallach at Public Citizen.  This is the merest summary of the points.

What’s Wrong with Wyden-Hatch-Ryan’s Fast Track Bill – The Specifics

Gaius Publius, Naked Capitalism

Posted on April 22, 2015

When we first reported on the introduction of Fast Track legislation – the bill that makes it possible for Obama and corporate Congress men and women to pass TPP, the next NAFTA-style “trade” agreement, by neutering Congress’ role in the process – we said that the new bill was being analyzed.

That analysis is done, and the results are in. This version of Fast Track is worse than the last version, a bill which failed to pass Congress in 2014. Here are the specifics (pdf) via Lori Wallach at Public Citizen, the go-to person for “trade” analysis. I’m going to focus on the main problems so you’re not overwhelmed with detail. Your take-aways:

  • What was bad in the prior agreement is worse, despite Wyden’s intervention.
  • Every attempt in the bill to make TPP conform to mandated worker, environmental and currency protections is unenforceable.

Note that the bill failed to attract a single Democratic co-sponsor in the House. This is not a bipartisan bill; it’s a Wyden-plus-Republicans bill, at least so far.



Click through in the first paragraph to see the extent of the declared opposition in Congress. There is considerable undeclared opposition as well, hidden in the “not sure” statements of members, especially Republicans.

Now some of what’s wrong. (For a side-by-side comparison of this Fast Track bill with the failed last one, click here; it’s enlightening. Hardly anything changed.)

  • Fast Track Grants “Trade Authority” to the Next President As Well
  • The Bill Makes Congress’ Declared “Negotiating Objectives” Unenforceable
  • (E)ven if the currency manipulation requirements were enforceable (and they’re not), that enforcement would change nothing
  • Improved Transparency with Hatch-Wyden-Ryan Fast Track? The Opposite
  • What About the New “Human Rights” Negotiating Objective?… Again, unenforceable is the feature, not the bug.
  • The “Exit Ramp” from Fast Track? Worse Than the Exit Ramp in the Last Fast Track
  • What Is “Free Trade” Really? Unrestricted Capital Flow

This “free market” stuff has been with us for centuries in the West, and it’s always about capital and the rights of capital to be free of government. Guess whom that benefits? If you said “capitalists and the politicians who serve them,” you’d be right. You can’t have a predatory Industrial Revolution without that kind of “philosophy” in place as a cover story.

Needless to say, the cover story is still in place. Welcome to the world of TPP.

Some further trenchant paragraphs-

The treaty is toxic in its language. Members of Congress can only read it in “reading rooms” without taking notes. If staff can see it at all, they have to have appropriate security clearances – because the treaty is being classified as a national security document. When Obama lobbied members of Congress recently about passing Fast Track and TPP, he threatened them that if they talked about what they heard in the meeting, they’d be charged with a crime.



In that atmosphere, and with treaty language that toxic, why would any administration allow copies to float through the halls of Congress? There are 435 House members and 100 senators. Let’s say each has two staff members who would be assigned to read this treaty. You’re now looking at between 535 and over 1000 copies on Capitol Hill. You’d have to assume that one of those copies goes to the press, and then, for Obama, it’s game over.

Bottom line on transparency – isn’t going to happen. If Obama wanted transparency, we wouldn’t be looking to Wikileaks for our only copies.

Proponents of the Wyden-negotiated “exit ramp” – by which the Fast Track process can be ended – ensures that there’s way for Congress to take back its power. Not only is that not true, but it’s a “feature” of this Fast Track bill that’s even worse than the 1988 Fast Track bill.



So the new exit ramp requires approval by the appropriate Senate and House committees and passage on the floor of both chambers – all of this only after the treaty was signed by all parties, thus requiring that negotiations be reopened on a signed-by-all-parties treaty. What are the odds of that?

By contrast the 1988 Fast Track bill provided a less stringent “exit” from Fast Track via a simple vote of the relevant committees only, and before the treaty was signed. Wyden sold himself for this? It was apparently the sticking point for him.

And some video-

Obama to Get “Fast Track” for Trade Pacts

“A Corporate Trojan Horse”: Critics Decry Secretive TPP Trade Deal as a Threat to Democracy

If you want constructive action here it is- call your Senators and Representative and promise them that if they support this disastrous abandonment of United States Democracy to the naked greed and corruption of Bilionaire Oligarchs and Foreign Corporations you will not only vote against them in the next General Election, whoever their opponent is, you will also do your very best to make sure they lose in the Primary to a strong candidate with the priorities of the public interest as their core value.

And mean it.

Lesser of two evils?  What could possibly be more evil?  And don’t bother Supreme Courting me- TPP sets up a secret Star Chamber of Corporate Jurisprudence that makes the Supremes obsolete and ineffectual.

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