Slam the Door on Fast-Track!

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Update: Since the commentary below was written, on Friday afternoon, June 12, the House of Representatives voted against Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). It’s a near-fatal blow to the Obama White House and Republican strategy aimed at passing the Fast Track authority they want to ease approval of the confidential Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

But as Greg Sargent writes at The Washington Post, “It’s too early to say whether this represents final defeat of Fast Track or the Trans-Pacific Partnership… even liberal opponents think it’s not impossible that, with enough pressure, a large enough bloc on both sides could switch.”

So keep your eyes on the news — and don’t stop letting your representatives know how you feel!



Finally! At last! Bipartisan collaboration in Washington — and what a beaut! President Obama, the Republican Party, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, K Street lobbyists and giant multinational companies are all singing “Kumbaya” and working together to shove through Congress the fast-track legislation that will grease the wheels for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

That’s the deal that favors CEOs over workers, profits over the environment and corporate power over the rule of law. Small wonder that it was drafted in secret or that Obama, McConnell and Boehner are determined there will be no amendments permitted once it is made public.

And just look at the strong-arm tactics this bizarre coalition is employing to pass fast-track: As the clock ticked past midnight into Wednesday, the House Republican leadership posted the legislation on line, hoping for a vote this Friday — “to spare supportive legislators,” Politico reports, “the possibility of another weekend of attacks by trade foes back in their districts.” Heaven forbid they should have to go home and hear a discouraging word from their constituents — the actual voters, as opposed to their big donors.

Some cowed Democrats have fallen in line. According to The New York Times, New York’s Rep. Gregory Meeks has even been spreading word in the Congressional Black Caucus that denying the first African-American president this trade authority “smacks of bias.” As if low-wage workers in communities of color won’t be among the real losers once TPP goes into effect and more jobs disappear overseas where labor is cheap and workers too often are treated like dirt.

It’s said Obama desperately wants this agreement as part of his “legacy.” So much so, as Politico notes, that he is willing to hand “a significant political victory” to the very partisans who have fought tooth and tail the last six years to destroy his administration. Legacy? No, it’s payback time to the big contributors to both parties. Legacy? Think Bill Clinton and NAFTA.

On Digby’s Hullaballo blog, the pseudonymous Gaius Publius reports that the fast-track bill may also lead to another deal called the Trade in Services Agreement — TISA — that could remove regulation of everything from financial services to telecommunications to official checks and balances, leaving citizens and consumers at the mercy of unfettered greed.

WikiLeaks has released some of the proposed agreement’s chapters and what’s revealed, Gaius Publius writes, “should have Congress shutting the door on Fast Track faster and tighter than you’d shut the door on an invading army of rats headed for your apartment.”

There’s still time. Call your representative and give them a piece of your mind — now.

For more than half a century, Bill Moyers has been listening to America as a journalist, writer and producer. You can explore his body of work on the Bill Moyers Timeline. Follow his work on Twitter at @BillMoyers.
Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer for Moyers & Company and, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos, and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWinship.
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