Tell Congress: Don't rubberstamp "NAFTA on steroids"
The petition reads: "Congress: Say NO to fast-track trade authority and other undemocratic attempts to prevent Congress from fully vetting secret trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It’s your job to ensure trade deals work for everyone, not just giant corporations, and it would be deeply irresponsible for you to ignore that responsibility by supporting fast-track trade authority."
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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been called “NAFTA on steroids” – and for good reason.
Negotiated behind closed doors by the governments of a dozen countries (including ours) colluding with corporate interests, this secret "trade" deal would eviscerate broad swaths of regulations that protect consumers, workers, the environment and the soundness of our financial system. And it would set up a legal regime where corporate profits trump the policy priorities of sovereign governments.
The first stage in the plan to pass the TPP is a big push for Congress to pass fast-track trade authority, which would short-circuit the typical legislative process when trade deals like the TPP come up for a vote.
Fast-track trade authority would allow the president to sign a trade deal before Congress has an opportunity to review or approve it. Then the president could send it to Congress for an up-or-down vote. Fast track would mean there would be no meaningful hearings, limited debate and absolutely no amendments to the deal. And there would be tremendous pressure on Congress to rubberstamp anything the president signs.
It's the job of Congress to fully vet trade deals and ensure they work for everyone, not just giant corporations. In fact the Constitution gives Congress exclusive authority over trade. And it would be a deeply irresponsible abdication of responsibility for Congress to pass fast track when we know the TPP is coming down the pike, especially when we know the consequences of the TPP could be disastrous.
That is why hundreds of groups including National Nurses United, the Sierra Club, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Democracy for America, and Public Citizen have spoken out against fast track.
Under the TPP, developing countries would lose access to lifesaving medicines. Unsafe foods and products could pour into our country while we’re powerless to stop them. Internet freedom would be a joke. Gone would be the days when the United States could regulate coal exports. And the excesses of our crazy intellectual property laws that privilege corporate control over innovation would be both exacerbated and extended internationally.
You might think such a far-reaching proposal would be subject to intense public debate. But the text of the proposed deal is considered classified by our government and even members of Congress have been given extremely limited access to it.
We know the little we do know about the deal because drafts of some of its chapters were leaked last year.
Yet, while the government has kept the public and Congress largely in the dark about the TPP, it has given 600 corporate advisers access to the full text of the proposal.
Pressured by giant corporate interests that stand to make huge amounts of money on the deal, and faced with a public that has purposefully been kept ignorant about this deal, it’s not hard to see how the TPP could be rammed through Congress if fast-track trade authority were in place.
In fact, the reason the corporate lobby is pushing fast track is that they know the TPP could not get through Congress without this extraordinary power grab. So the first thing we need to do to fight back is to ensure Congress does not tie its own hands by passing fast-track trade authority.