Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fast Track trade authority is not just about TPP and TTIP

Fast Track  is a legal framework for for trade negotiations to grant the president authority to negotiate trade agreements without worry that Congress will seek to amend each deal. Fast Track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, is designed to allow other countries to negotiate in confidence knowing that what is negotiated will not change due to Congress.

The discussion of TPA for the president has been narrowly focused on two treaties, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Both have been in secret negotiations for years and both have tremendous amounts of money and power riding on them. Both are supported by the president and Republicans in Congress and face potentially overwhelming opposition by Democrats. Billions of pixels have been spilled on this topic alone.

But what isn't discussed much is this: TPA lasts for six years and there are 43 other trade agreements waiting in the wings. 43! TPP and TTIP are really just the tip of the iceberg. The goal then, it seems, is that the legislation that the 1% would really like to pass does not originate in Congress. It is in the form of treaties and is intended to upset the checks and balances created by the Constitution.

This potential avalanche of treaties will enjoy a great ski ride down the backs of middle class Americans if TPA is granted to the president. I say this because I can't think of a single trade deal that has resulted in a net of jobs for America. Neither can the United Steelworkers of America.

There is another very interesting part of the debate that is starting to emerge, too. There is talk of providing for rules concerning currency manipulation. Could it be that someone in Congress has finally noticed the trade deficit? Now that would be something to see, for if Congress has a meaningful discussion on currency manipulation and passes a rule requiring any trade deal to include a prohibition on currency manipulation, that could solve the domestic demand problem in a hurry. Eliminating the trade deficit would create 6-7 million new jobs. Could that really happen?

We could rewrite the rules, couldn't we?
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