Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Contact

Arthur Stamoulis, (202) 494-8826 or media@citizenstrade.org

Press Release

SOTU: President's Base Opposes Fast Track for TPP

WASHINGTON -

Over 550 labor, environmental, family farm and other organizations traditionally associated with President Barack Obama's political base sent a letter to Congress today opposing Fast Track legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other pending trade agreements. The letter comes just a day before the President's annual State of the Union address. Corporate interests that fought the president's re-election are lobbying for him to use the speech to call on Congress to enact Fast Track authority for the TPP. The President's political base and many congressional Democrats stand in united opposition, emphasizing that the TPP threatens to exacerbate American income inequality.

"Income inequality and long-term unemployment are serious problems that the job-killing TPP would only worsen," said Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, which organized the letter. "Calling for Fast Track in the State of the Union 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."

The 564-organization letter urges Congress to oppose "The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act" (HR 3830/S 1900), legislation which would revive the 2002 Fast Track "trade promotion authority" mechanism that expired in 2007. The bill was introduced on January 9 without a Democratic sponsor in the House by Ways & Means Committee Chair David Camp (R-MI), and by outgoing Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in the Senate.

"After decades of devastating job loss, attacks on environmental and health laws and floods of unsafe imported food under our past trade agreements, America must chart a new course on trade policy," the letter reads. "To accomplish this, a new form of trade authority is needed that ensures Congress and the public play a much more meaningful role in determining the contents of U.S. trade agreements... [The Camp-Baucus bill] is an abrogation of not only Congress' constitutional authority, but of its responsibility to the American people. We oppose this bill, and urge you to do so as well."

Among the signers are labor unions like 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); environmental organizations like 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, League of Conservation Voters, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club; family farm organizations like the National Family Farm Coalition, National Farmers Union and the Western Organization of Resource Councils; consumer groups like Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, National Consumers League and Public Citizen; and hundreds of others.

During last year's State of the Union address, President Obama claimed that the TPP would "boost American exports." He made similar claims in his 2011 State of the Union speech with respect to the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, urging Congress to pass that pact. U.S. exports to Korea declined ten percent in the first year of that agreement, while American-job-displacing imports from South Korea increased. The 37 percent increase to the U.S. trade deficit with Korea in the pact's first year equated to a loss of 40,000 U.S. jobs.

Trade negotiators have missed repeated self-imposed deadlines for completing the TPP, and more than three-quarters of House Democrats and a bloc of Republican House members have signed letters expressing their opposition to Fast Track for the agreement.

"Americans cannot afford a 'NAFTA of the Pacific.' Fast Track would ensure that the Obama administration's proposals for the TPP are never exposed to public scrutiny until after the pact is signed, amendments are prohibited and changes become all but impossible," said Stamoulis. "Rubber stamping such a far-reaching agreement sight unseen is no way for Congress to create public policy."

A PDF copy of today's letter opposing Fast Track can be found online at: http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/FastTrackOp…

###

The Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC) is a national coalition of environmental, labor, consumer, family farm, religious, and other civil society groups founded in 1992 to improve the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). We are united in a common belief that international trade and investment are not ends unto themselves, but instead must be viewed as a means for achieving other societal goals such as economic justice, human rights, healthy communities, and a sound environment.

House Democrats Request 'Damage Assessment' Following Recovery of Classified Docs

"Former President Trump's conduct has potentially put our national security at grave risk," Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Adam Schiff wrote to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.

Kenny Stancil ·


Violent Threats Against FBI Soar as Trump Lies About Mar-a-Lago Search

Menacing messages posted online "include a threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI Headquarters" and "general calls for 'civil war' and 'armed rebellion,'" officials warned.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Biggest Win for Tax Fairness' in Decades: Progressives Cheer Reforms in IRA, Demand More

"While this bill establishes desperately needed changes to our tax laws and IRS funding, it is still a far cry from the systemic changes that we need in our society to rectify the hold the rich still have on every level of our economy."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Care Can't Wait': IRA a Good Start, Progressives Say, But More Is Needed

"Americans deserve a full loaf of bread," said health justice advocate Ady Barkan.

Kenny Stancil ·


'I'm Back': Fetterman Returns to Campaign Trail Following May Stroke

"I'm not only grateful to be alive, but also for the campaign we're building together," said the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo