Progressive Caucus Offers Alternative to Fast-Track Trade Deals

Now that Fast-Track legislation has been introduced, let’s look at an another way to approach trade deals, proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus last month.

In "Principles for Trade: A Model for Global Progress," they lay out a strategy that serves the public interest, rather than multinationals and banks. 

They point to the problems of NAFTA, in place since 1994: "The US has lost millions of jobs in key sectors like manufacturing, wages have stagnated, and the standard of living for working families has dropped." 

"The United States must stop using trade agreements as investment deals for the world’s wealthiest corporations," they say.  They call for principles that establish standards for US trade policy that put workers first, balance trade deficits, and improve labor and environmental protections around the world.

The Principles:

  • Congress should have the authority to set trade policy
  • Restore balanced trade
  • Put workers first: meaningful labor protections "that are easily understood by unionists in partner nations, and properly enforced."
  • Prohibit currency manipulation
  • Expand Buy America procurement practices and the equivalent in trade partner countries. Every country should have the right to give preference to domestic producers, not foreign companies.
  • Protect the environment: legally binding obligations to maintain and strengthen domestic laws and policies
  • Secure affordable access to essential medicine: no back room deals for Big Pharma’s patents.
  • Respect human rights: uphold the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Protect nationhood rights
  • No private court system for corporations and foreign investors, where there isn’t even the right to appeal.
  • Prioritize consumers above profits: countries should be able to pass measures that protect citizens without fear of being challenged
  • Trade accords would be prohibited from superseding domestic food and safety standards, financial regulations, and other consumer policies.

Both trade deals under negotiation violate each of these principles – Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. It has been negotiated by and for the global corporate and bank lobbies, not by and for the American people.

Trans-Pacific Partnership2

Amazingly, Congress is ready to vote Yes on a bill that would literally give them 20 hours to debate a package of several thousand pages, packed with special interest deals. They would have no right to amend. The president will have already signed. Congress can vote Yes or No within 90 days.

If you wonder why the US has close to $7 trillion in trade deficits, or why millions of our jobs have gone offshore, look no further than these policies. 

The deals haven’t been good for other countries either. "Outside of the United States, misguided trade policies are devastating both rural and urban communities in emerging nations, from the displacement of millions of small farmers in Mexico to low wages and terrible conditions for garment factory workers in Honduras. 
"Trade agreements that destroy local livelihoods and provide workers with little economic opportunity create strong incentives for immigration to the United States. U.S. trade policy must focus on creating economic opportunity for working people in the United States and abroad, not only on maximizing short-term profits for large corporations," says the Caucus. 

Read Principles for Trade: A Model for Global Progress:

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