In a clear sign that all is not in harmony in the Democratic Party, several powerful groups of the Democratic base are organizing to block “fast track” authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The partnership – TPP – is a sweeping free-trade agreement the Obama administration is trying to push though Congress.
This past Monday, a group of 564 political insiders from labor, the environmental, family-farm and community organizations drafted a strongly worded letter to the White House stating that the TPP undermines the president’s message on income inequality.
“President Obama can’t have it both ways,” Arthur Stamoulis, spokesman for Citizens Trade Campaign, the group organizing the letter, told WND. “Either the president is for reducing income eligibility as we expect he will say in the State of the Union address, or he can push for fast-track legislation on the job-destroying TPP free-trade agreement. He can’t have it both ways.”
This trade agreement is part of a two-ocean globalist plan the president is working quietly to enact. The objective is to follow up the passage of TPP with the completion of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the European Union.
In his 2013 State of the Union address Obama announced his plan to add the trans-Pacific free-trade agreement to the trans-Atlantic agreement already in place.
“Fast-tracking” would allow Obama to force the TPP through Congress with a simple majority vote. Debate would be limited by the rules so no amendments could be added to the language of the agreement the president has negotiated behind closed doors.
The clout of the Citizens Trade Campaign is evident in the signatories.
They include labor unions such as the AFL-CIO; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); American Federation of Teachers; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; United Autoworkers (UAW); United Brotherhood of Carpenters; United Steelworkers (USW); and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Included in the environmental organizations are 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, League of Conservation Voters, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Sierra Club and the Rainforest Action Network.
Among the family-farm organizations are the National Family Farm Coalition, National Farmers Union and the Western Organization of Resource Councils. The consumer groups include Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, National Consumers League and Public Citizen.
“Income inequality and long-term unemployment are serious problems that the job-killing TPP would only worsen,” Stamoulis said.
He continued, calling for fast-track authority in the State of the Union address Tuesday night “would undercut positive proposals to battle growing income inequality and create middle class jobs which are expected to be the central focus of the president’s speech.”
“As short-sighted as such a call would be, even more short-sighted would be for Congress members on either side of the aisle to answer it, as they’re the ones who would be dealing with the political repercussions this November,” Stamoulis said.
Later this week, the U.S. Business & Industry Council, plans to deliver an additional blow by following up the State of the Union address with a national press conference identifying the results of a independent national poll on TPP.
In an unusual collaboration, Democratic pollster Gary Molyneux of Hart Research and Republican pollster Bob Carpenter of Chesapeake Beach Consulting have worked together to conduct the poll and report the results.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Business and Industry Council, Eden Gorden, would not divulge what the poll results show, but it’s believed that the majority of the responders would oppose the TPP as a job-killing measure.
Opposition leaders charge the administration negotiated in secret and is now trying to push the agreement through Congress before the pubic finds out what the measure compromises U.S. sovereignty.
Republicans in the House are gearing up to follow the lead of the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to rubber-stamp TPP, reported WND on Jan. 14th. This is perceived to be the most sweeping trade agreement since NAFTA.
Still, earlier in January, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont, with ranking member Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., announced their group was introducing “fast track’ trade promotion authority.
Resistance to TPP seems to be coming from House Democrats concerned that more U.S. union jobs will disappear in the free-trade frenzy Republicans aligned with Boehner and Democrats siding with Reid plan to run through Congress.
In the past, 151 House Democrats opposed to TPP and led by Representatives Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and George Miller, D-Calif., wrote President Obama expressing their opposition to using so-called “outdated ‘fast track’ methods that usurp Congress’s authority over trade matters.”
Now that Boehner has decided to support Obama on TPP, the Republican Party seems ready to disregard fears raised by GOP conservatives and various tea-party groups that the 12-nation TPP deal further undermines U.S. sovereignty. They argue that it places major sectors of the U.S. economy under new dispute-regulation mechanisms that would take precedence over U.S. judges and courts.
This “fast track authority” which is a provision of the Trade Promotion Authority also serves to make clear to foreign partners that the FTA negotiated by the executive branch will not be altered by Congress during the legislative process.
During his 2013 State of the Union address, Obama declared that to “boost American exports, support American jobs and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia, we intend to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
“And tonight,” said Obama, “I’m announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union – because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.”
The president’s promise of creating new jobs drew congressional applause despite concerns that NAFTA and U.S. participation in the World Trade Organization along with other previous trade agreements have resulted in the loss of millions of high-salary U.S. jobs to nations with less costly job markets.
The 12 nations involved in the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.