U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur joined other members of Congress kast Thursday in opposing the controversial Hatch-Ryan-Wyden “Fast Track” legislation.  The troika of sponsors of the largely secret bill that involves a dozen nations but not China, will find their work cut out for them, if the strong words from strong voices on today’s call are any indication of the anger building on Capital Hill to stop Congress from giving President Obama the authority he needs to negotiate a new trade deal.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said the deal amounts to a ‘blank check…that forces us to vote up or down on a dumb deal.” Rep. DeLauro, the coordinator of today’s call, said the deal few have seen or been privy to is wrong for trade because it will undermine jobs and wages by forcing American workers to compete even more intensely with low paid foreign workers.

Moreover, she said, the deal ignores currency manipulation, a tactic she and others said leads to the loss of American jobs, she said, citing the loss of five million jobs from similar trade deals. “If ever there was an agreement that we should avoid, fast tracking TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] is it” DeLauro said.

Obama On-Board

President Obama has also weigh-ed in the issue. Commenting today, he said, “My top priority in any trade negotiation is expanding opportunity for hardworking Americans.  It’s no secret that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to their promise, and that’s why I will only sign my name to an agreement that helps ordinary Americans get ahead.  At the same time, at a moment when 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we must make sure that we, and not countries like China, are writing the rules for the global economy.”

Kaptur Captures Essence Of Opposition Sentiment

Ohio Congressman Marcy Kaptur, who flew into Cleveland several weeks ago on Air Force One with the president to attend his remarks at the City Club, said that more than 47 million jobs have been lost since 1976 on international trade accounts alone. Since then, she said, the accumulated lost in trade deficits is now about $9.5 trillion. She pointed to the three-year old trade deal with Korea as an example of another promised good deal gone bad. The bad deal with South Korea has resulted in the loss of 75,000 jobs so far. “Incomes are declining, the middle-class is shrinking and society is unbalanced,” she told reporters today. Trade deficits reduce GOP by 2 percent, she said, adding, “We can’t continue…We’re going to win this fight…for a new trade paradigm.”

Brown Opposite Of Portman In Opposing TPP

Six Senators, including Ohio’s senior senator, Sherrod Brown, Chuck Schumer of New York, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, signed this statement objecting to the proceedings:

“With millions of jobs on the line, American workers and manufacturers deserve more than a hastily scheduled hearing without an underlying bill. Congress should undergo a thorough and deliberative committee process for debating trade agreements that account for 40 percent of our world’s GDP. And we should be debating a bill that has seen the light of day and contains strong provisions to protect American workers against illegal trade practices like currency manipulation.”

Senator Rob Portman, who is running for a second term next year, supports TPP. Ted Strickland, a former Ohio governor who is one of two Democrats to take on Portman next year, is also opposed to the trade deal that doesn’t include China. Sen. Portman has historically favored corporate interests over worker rights, and his support of TPP will only clarify the contrast between him and Mr. Strickland or P.G. Sittenfeld, a Cincinnati City Councilman who is competing with Strickland first for the chance to take on Portman.

Previously, Sen. Brown has said that rushing this process is a bad decision because there’s too much at stake if it turns out to be a bigger and worse version of the North American Free Trade Agreement passed in the 1990s and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

“Our manufacturing sector has lost more than 5 million jobs since 1994. While we’ve seen an impressive recovery, the more than 629,000 Ohio jobs tied to the auto industry could be at risk if our trade deals don’t protect against competitors that cheat trade law or manipulate currency. Rushing a trade package through Congress without a healthy debate is not only reckless, but it’s a betrayal to middle class and working families in Ohio.”

Reports on TPP say it’s a deal pushed by the White House that’s generating lots of citizen opposition, especially from unions. Sen. Brown and others want to kill it, starting first by scrubbing fast-track authority for the president. Fast-tracking grants the president authority to negotiate a trade deal. Then, once that’s done, Congress can only vote yes or no, and amendments are prohibited. Congress gets a voice in setting negotiating parameters in exchange, along with a commitment on how much of the draft language of a trade treaty is made available.

Other congressmen on today’s call were Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI), Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ).

 
  • Red Rover

    What do you mean Obama’s on board? He wants fast track, but he’s giving lip service that he has workers’ best interests in mind.

    Also it’s mystifying to me that Republicans will oppose anything that Obama wants to do (even going to the point of writing illegal letters to foreign leaders), yet some are in favor of fast track and this trade deal he’s negotiating.

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