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A protest against the TPP and Fast Track in Dallas. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

Astroturf Warning: TPP Critics Call Out Fake 'Progressive' Group Pushing Corporate Trade Agenda

'The fact is, you can be a progressive committed to fighting for working families or you can be for this massive job-killing trade deal written by hundreds of corporate representatives, but you can't be both.'

Critics of the corporate-friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership are lining up against what they call an "astroturf" operation claiming to represent progressives in favor of Fast Tracking the sweeping and secretive trade deal.

No such progressives exist, they say.

Last month, a Democratic political consulting firm founded by former Obama administration staffers launched a website dubbed "Progressive Coalition for American Jobs," which claimed to prove the existence of progressives who support trade promotion authority, or Fast Track power.

Fast Track, which will likely be taken up by Congress soon after lawmakers return from Easter recess on April 13, would make it easier for Obama to negotiate trade deals—including the massive 12-nation TPP—by preventing them from being amended by House or Senate members.

However, groups like Public Citizen, CREDO Action, and Democracy for America say no real progressives support handing over trade authority to the White House in this way.

"A consultant-run, pro-TPP astroturf campaign won't change the fact that progressives are united in their opposition to Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership," said Murshed Zaheed, deputy political director at CREDO Action, on a press call (pdf) Wednesday. 

In fact, added Neil Sroka, Democracy for America's communications director, "The progressive movement could not be more united, more focused, more committed to holding our leaders accountable for the actions they take in Washington than we are right now in the fight against Fast Track authority for the TPP."

He continued: "The fact is, you can be a progressive committed to fighting for working families or you can be for this massive job-killing trade deal written by hundreds of corporate representatives, but you can't be both."

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, encouraged lawmakers to listen to their constituents over consultants.

"Millions of people nationwide are engaging their members of Congress to oppose Fast Track because they understand the damage more job-killing, environment-gutting 'trade' agreements would mean for them," she stated.

"The grassroots forces against Fast Track are the local clergy, small business owners, union and environmental group members, activist retirees and students that members of Congress face whenever they go home," Wallach said. "Meanwhile, the millions being spent to lobby for Fast Track by Wall Street interests, pharmaceutical and agribusiness firms, job-offshoring multinational corporations and their lobby shops—along with their astroturf operations—go away after the vote."

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