Liberals like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are uniting with moderate Democrats to oppose a Senate plan to give President Obama fast track authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Sen. Sanders said in a statement, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another corporate-backed agreement that is the latest in a series of failed trade policies which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs, pushed down wages for American workers and led to the decline of our middle class. We want American companies to create decent-paying jobs in America, not just in low-wage countries like Vietnam, Malaysia or China. The TPP must be defeated.”
Sen. Warren spoke at a rally against TPP today, and said, “Are you ready to fight any more deals that say ‘we’re going to help the rich get richer and leave everybody else behind’? Workers have to fight back. I’m proud to be with you and I’m going to be with you all the way.”
In a statement, President Obama vowed to only sign a trade agreement that will help American workers get ahead:
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.
The bill put forward today would help us write those rules in a way that avoids the mistakes from our past, seizes opportunities for our future, and stays true to our values. It would level the playing field, give our workers a fair shot, and for the first time, include strong fully enforceable protections for workers’ rights, the environment, and a free and open internet.
President Obama is going to have to convince Democrats and Independents that TPP isn’t another NAFTA before will consider supporting any agreement.
What should trouble the White House even more is the opposition to fast track authority by Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, who said, “Trade Promotion Authority legislation will pave the way for another NAFTA-style deal that costs jobs and hurts Pennsylvania’s economy. Over and over again we’ve been told that trade deals will create jobs and better protect workers and the environment. Those promises have never come to fruition. Now some in the Senate are ready to dive into another mistaken trade deal. When it comes to debating economic policies, we ought to consider whether they will grow middle-class wages, create new jobs and bolster our manufacturing sector. Trade Promotion Authority legislation does none of these things.”
The agreement that the Senate reached today would, if passed, give Obama the authority to finish negotiations on TPP. President Obama may have good intentions, but the overwhelming support for TPP coming from the business community combined with the universal opposition coming from unions, should give American workers cause for concern.
Democrats have President Obama’s back, but they can not, and should not support another trade agreement that harms American workers. The burden of proof is on the White House. If they want the universal support of Democrats on TPP, they are going to have to earn it.