For Immediate Release
New Book: How to Build a New U.S. Trade Consensus
‘The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority’ Provides Unprecedented Historical Review of Trade Authority Since Nation’s Founding and a Path Forward
WASHINGTON - A new book released today by Public Citizen examines
the colorful 220-year U.S. history of how the president and Congress
have grappled with negotiating and implementing trade agreements given
the constitutional separation of powers requirements. "The Rise and
Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority" by Todd Tucker and Lori Wallach
concludes that Fast Track (the most recent mechanism Congress used to
delegate its trade powers to the president) is a historical anomaly and
counterproductive to the creation of good trade pacts.
"We wrote this book because when we did the research necessary to
give ourselves a clear picture of Fast Track and the delegation systems
before it, we found distorted, partial and inaccurate information in
existing journalistic and scholarly work," said Tucker, research
director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division and a
co-author of the book. "Much like the conventional wisdom on financial
and trade deregulation, the prevailing narrative was that Fast Track
was inevitable and necessary for the creation of trade agreements. We
show that this is false and that, on the contrary, Americans have
frequently changed the way that the executive and legislative branches
have shared trade-policy powers."
The book will be released today at an event at the New America
Foundation in Washington, D.C. It will be available in a variety of
easily readable formats accessible at FastTrackHistory.org. The
research and publication of this material was made possible by a grant
from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
The book explores how the process of designing U.S. trade agreements
has changed from 1789 to the present, examining five different regimes
of trade-policy formation, the most recent culminating with the
expiration of Fast Track during President George W. Bush's second term.
Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress is responsible for crafting
trade policy. Yet, over the past few decades, presidents have
increasingly grabbed that power through Fast Track, which allows the
executive branch to pick negotiating partners, determine trade pacts'
contents and even sign the deals - all before Congress gets a vote.
The book also notes that the trade agreements facilitated by Fast
Track delve deeply into non-tariff, non-trade areas of policy such as
investment, procurement and intellectual property. The book provides
an unprecedented documentation of the arguments that motivated both
opponents and proponents of the expansion of executive power over trade
agreements. It is the result of a three-year scholarly investigation
into hundreds of primary and secondary sources, many referenced in the
book for the first time.
The book notes that growing numbers of voters and policymakers -
including President Barack Obama and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk
- have opposed Fast Track and called for a more democratic process for
creating a national globalization strategy.
"We look forward to a future new mechanism that can reduce political
tension about trade policy and secure prosperity for the greatest
number of Americans, while preserving the vital tenets of American
democracy in the era of globalization," said Wallach, director of
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division and a co-author of the new
book. "Now is the time to have the debate about a new trade model, and
this new book provides an essential starting point."
Advance Praise for "The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority":
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio and congressional trade-policy leader
"If you wonder why trade policy over the past several years has
reflected such narrow interests, look no further than the imbalanced
trade policymaking process that is Fast Track. There is no other
legislative mechanism with such extraordinary powers. Read this
informed and engaging account of Fast Track's history and take action."
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, Democrat of Maine and co-founder of House Trade Working Group
"Most people now in Congress weren't elected when President Nixon
designed Fast Track to grab Congress' exclusive constitutional
authority over U.S. trade policy. President Obama discussed the need to
replace Fast Track with a process that ensures a greater role for
Congress. This book provides the lessons of 233 years of American trade
authority history to inform Congress' efforts to create just such a new
trade negotiating mechanism."
Alfred E. Eckes, eminent research professor in
Contemporary History at Ohio University, author of "Opening America's
Market: U.S. Foreign Trade Policy Since 1776," and former
Reagan-appointed chairman and commissioner, U.S. International Trade
"Candidates for federal office should be required to read and
address the critical issues raised in this stimulating book. Wallach
and Tucker make a persuasive case that the fast-track trade negotiating
process produces agreements weighted to the interests of corporate
giants and harmful to democratic governance and public safety. Their
argument that a more democratic trade policy process is both possible
and desirable merits the attention of public officials and thoughtful
About the authors:
Lori Wallach is the director and founder of Public Citizen's
Global Trade Watch division and co-author of "Whose Trade Organization?
A Comprehensive Guide to the WTO," published by The New Press in 2004.
One of the most widely cited trade and globalization policy experts,
Wallach has testified before Congress, federal agencies and foreign
legislatures. She graduated from Wellesley College and Harvard Law
Todd Tucker is research director of Public Citizen's Global
Trade Watch (GTW) division. He is author of dozens of reports on the
WTO, NAFTA, and various other consumer and economic issues. A graduate
of George Washington University, he received his masters in development
economics from Cambridge University.
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.