Slamming the Obama administration's "complete lack of transparency in negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)" trade agreement, a coalition of public interest groups urged members of Congress to reject the president's request for the ability to fast-track the deal.
Last month, Obama said he would be pushing for Trade Promotion Authority—legislation that would allow him to fast-track trade agreements by giving Congress a yes or no vote but taking away powers to amend, and which Jim Hightower once referred to as "a legislative laxative that's bad for the Constitution."
The authority would prevent congressional ability to push for fixes to what Politico described as "the biggest free-trade deal in history — a pact involving 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, dwarfing NAFTA — and remaking global trade policy for a generation," and what Public Citizen's Lori Wallach described bluntly as "NAFTA on steroids."
In their letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Ranking Member Orrin Hatch, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, Ranking Member Sander Levin, and Congressional advisors on trade policy and negotiation sent Wednesday, 14 groups, including Public Citizen, Amnesty International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Global Exchange, write that
Since TPP trade delegates have kept all draft texts secret and have excluded public input from the process, our deep concerns about the agreement have been marginalized.
Among the concerns they cite, based on leaked portions of the agreement's text, are an "Intellectual Property" chapter that
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appears to encourage the sort of speech restricting provisions that the public protested loudly when they appeared in the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
Echoing the call of dozens of other groups that have warned that the negotiations thus far have favored corporations over the public interest, the letter continues:
The American public has a right to know the contents of the international agreements its government is crafting. Corporations cannot be the only interests represented in this agreement, since they do not advocate for policies that safeguard or even represent the interests of the public at large. Given the administration's complete lack of transparency in negotiating the TPP, it is vitally important that democratically elected representatives are at least given the opportunity to conduct a review and push for fixes.
To that end, we request that you oppose any legislation that would renew fast track or trade pro motion authority.
Read the full letter (provided by EFF) below: