Welcome Lori Wallach (Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch) (The Nation) and Host Dave Johnson (Campaign for America’s Future) (Seeing The Forest) (Twitter)

The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority

You think trade is complicated, technical, boring, so you tune out and don’t pay attention to the issue… And then BANG, you’re told they are moving the facility where you work out of the country and you are going to be laid off, but if you want your severance and the chance to collect unemployment you have to train your replacement. Not long after that, in other factories and offices everyone is told to accept wage and benefit cuts or they’ll move that facility out of the country, too.

Six months later you look around and your downtown locally-owned storefronts are getting boarded up one at a time because the private-equity-owned chains that circle the town carry all that cheap stuff from China and they buy at such a large scale that no small business can compete.

After a year you finally land a job! The job is you have to dress up like a duck and stand on a corner waving a sign. These are the things that all of this arguing about trade is about. Welcome to the new America.

Lori Wallach’s book, The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority, provides a history of how we got here. It gets into how our trade agreements are negotiated, what they mean to our country, and the ongoing battle between the Congress and executive branch over what process we should use. Wallach describes the book as “actually a fun read.”

The book naturally starts with the Boston Tea Party, which was actually part of a trade war over taxes on tea. England had a government run by a wealthy few who used their wealth and power to maintain their wealth and power – largely through trade rules. (They forbid the American colony to manufacture and taxed the things we imported.)

So we revolted, won, formed a government conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men (and later men of color and then later women but not LGBT people yet) are created equal and wrote a Constitution with checks and balances to make sure that We the People had a big say in our trade policy.

Wallach writes of 5 trade “regimes” or periods that took place between then and now, with Congress largely in control but occasionally handing over their power to the administrative branch. But then came the idea of a new trade-negotiating process, commonly called “Fast Track,” which dramatically changed the role of Congress in trade as well as non-trade laws. It is not too much to say that Fast Track shredded the balance of powers in the Constitution, delegating Congressional trade authority to the executive branch.

Fast Track lets the trade negotiators push through domestic policies that Congress would never pass, and then gives Congress a very short amount of time to agree or not. The process, with a very short time for consideration, allows the President to, as Wallach writes, (page 87) “…shepherd the powerful arguments made in the past about damage to US credibility and foreign relations if changes to a signed agreement were sought. Congress would be put on the defensive in this case, facing enormous pressure to proceed with consideration of the pact.” On top of this Congress faces massively-funded campaigns from the corporate interests served by the agreement, generating the appearance of popular support for the agreement.

This is how agreements where Congress had mandated that there must be strong labor and environmental provisions ended up approved with weak or no labor and environmental provisions, and agreements that go so far beyond just trade that the word “trade” shouldn’t be in the treaty.

And this is how we ended up with a vast, massive, huge, terrible, enormous, mammoth trade deficit draining around $600 billion a year out of our economy. (click for larger)


And the reasons for that trade deficit are a big part of how we ended up with the loss of millions of jobs, 50,000+ factories, entire industries, extreme concentration of wealth among a very few, and the terrible pressures the rest of us face just trying to get by.

All of this is important as we get ready for the fight over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I’ve been beating the drum about TPP, but Lori Wallach has been the drum major. This is a vast treaty being negotiated in secret with tons of corporate input but little or no input from working people, human rights organizations, environmental organizations, consumer rights organizations and others. With a process like that the results are predetermined — great for the already-giant multinational corporations and the billionaires behind them, terrible for any remaining concept of democratic government and the people and the planet. TPP goes so far beyond “trade”, and sets aside so much of our own understanding of law and sovereignty that it could be called a framework for a new worldwide corporate state.

Now that we are all in a positive frame of mind… let the dialog begin.


[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

102 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Lori Wallach, The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority”

BevW June 9th, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Lori, Welcome to the Lake.

Dave, Welcome back to the Lake and thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

For our new readers/commenters:
To follow along, you will have to refresh your browser:
PC = F5 key, MAC = Command+R keys

If you want to ask a question – just type it in the Leave Your Response box & Submit Comment.

If you are responding to a comment – use the Reply button under the number,
then type your response in the box, Submit Comment. (Using Submit Comment will refresh your browser when you reply to a comment/ask a question.)

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Thanks Bev. Hi Lori, it is great to be here with you! Let me ask a question to get things started:

My post introducing you has a chart showing our country’s massive trade deficit. With DC all aflutter over deficits, why do you think this trade deficit – which actually has enormous consequences for our economy – is largely ignored?

dakine01 June 9th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Good afternoon Lori and Dave and welcome back to Firedoglake this afternoon.

Lori, I have not had an opportunity to read your book so forgive me if you address this in there but why do you think the Congress is so quick to give away their responsibilities. Do they think that if they give the power to the Executive branch that people won’t blame them when it all blows up? Is it too much work for them (or their staffs) to actually stay on top of negotiations between the governments and businesses? Or are they all so far into the tank for the businesses that they just can’t see the problems of giving the businesses the power to overrule local laws?

Elliott June 9th, 2013 at 2:03 pm

What a great book. This is something we all need to know more about, welcome to the Lake.

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:03 pm

To answer Dakine first, I think that many MoCs are no aware that they have exclusive constitutional authority over trade. Almost none of those now in office were there before Nixon first cooked up Fast Track to grab that authority

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:04 pm

So… they do not know that they HAVE a lot of power over the content of trade agts if they6 wanted to use it. Rather, they buy into the rhetoric about how you cannot have 535 MoCs “negotiating” which is not the real issue – the real issue is WHO controls WHAT gets into the contents and WHO decides WHEN a deal is “done” and meets the needs of the public. Those rae the powers that DFast Track takes away

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

On Dave’s question – re trade deficits: it mystifies me why the deficit – the trade deficit – that directly eliminates American jobs is largely ignored, while the budget deficit gets so much focus. Well, only mystifies me why public’s focus is not great – for media etc, the mis-focus is because there is a huge amount of ideological $$ going into creating a major hoohaa over the budget deficit

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

but that does not explain why there is not more focus on the trade deficit

BevW June 9th, 2013 at 2:08 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 5

I think that many MoCs are no aware that they have exclusive constitutional authority over trade. Almost none of those now in office were there before Nixon first cooked up Fast Track to grab that authority

Do you think this is by design or do the political parties want this Fast Track?

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:08 pm

So because there are 525 Members of Congress (MoCs) you can’t have them all negotiating an agreement. Fine. But the way it is supposed to work is Congress specifies what they want from an agreement, and then the executive branch is supposed to negotiate according the their instructions. Right?

So how do you explain that – as I understand it – the Trans-Pacific Partnership is being negotiated, and even Congress isn’t allowed to know what they are negotiating?

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Oops, 535 MOCs.

BevW June 9th, 2013 at 2:09 pm

As a technical note, there is a “Reply” button in the lower right hand of each comment. Pressing the “Reply” will pre-fill the commenter name and number you are replying to and helps for everyone in following the conversation.

(Note: If you’ve had to refresh your browser, Reply may not work correctly unless you wait for the page to complete loading)

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:09 pm

One of the most interesting factoids our research had uncovered is that U.S. export GROWTH to non-FTA countries – the ones we do NOT have “Free Trade Agreements” with – is much faster than to the countries we have trade agts with. Yup, U.S. export growth is penalized by having a NAFTA-style FTA with a country… You can see the study on this at our website tradewatch.org

So, great idea to do a massive 11-country NAFTA-style deal – the TPP, huh?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Indeed, the way trade negotiations should work, constitutionally, is that Congress sets the contents and the exec branch negotiators are sent out to do that mission. As my book shows, that is how it went for the first 200 years of the nation!

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:11 pm

What Fast Track did was upend that very intentional constitutional check and balance – shifting ALL of the authority over to the exec branch to decide the contents and sign the agts before Cong even got an intial vote!

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I’m going to hilite something you wrote, just so it stands out. No need to respond, just that this is the core of the issue, as far as working people are concenred.

“the trade deficit – that directly eliminates American jobs”

It is the DEFICIT that counts — the imbalance in these trade agreements. The President talks about these agreements expanding exports, which they often do. But when they expand imports even more than they expand exports, this costs jobs.

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I think that many MoCs do not know about what an anomaly Fast Track is because it is so rare… Since Nixon cooked it up, it has only been used 16 times – notably for our worst most damaging agts like NAFTA and WTO . But during that period, since 1974, there have been literally hundreds of trade agts implemented without Fast Track.

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:13 pm


This week the nominee for US Trade Representative, Mike Froman, told a Senate committee that he will push for Fast Track authority. Do you have a reading on the level of support for this in the Congress?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:14 pm

BUT, Congress HAD rejected Fast Track WHEN they pay attn. to what an outrage it is. In 1998, 171 Dems and 71 GOP voted no to a Fast Track delegation request from then-Prez Clinton. He was denied Fast Track for 6 of his 8 years

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I think that whether Congress delegates away its authority over trade again via Fast Track will depend on how much MoCs hear from the public about what an outrage that is…

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:17 pm

For instance, everyone should call or email your MoC and ask them to send you a copy of the “draft composite” TPP text – ie that 11-country NAFTA on steroids deal that Pres Obama wants to sign this October and that has been under negotiation for 3 years behind closed doors. The reason to ask is 1) you need to know what is being agreed in our name, as once agreed unlike domestic leg it is not changeable unless all countries consent 2)it is about to be signed 4) no MoC has seen it!!!

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:17 pm

We just entered into a new trade agreement with South Korea. How is that working out so far?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

This makes clear WHY Congress sh not delegate away ANY of its const trade authority to the White House – even when there is not a formal delegation, Congress is being cut out. So, imagine what will happen if there IS a formal delegation and the WH knows Congress has no leverage…

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:19 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 21

OK I really want to clarify this. No Member of Congress (MoC) has seen the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that is so far along that it is going to be ready to sign soon.

Yet in your book you say that MoCs have been part of negotiations before, and at least have been the ones saying what ought to be in these agreements — as the Constitution makes clear.

How can this be?

BevW June 9th, 2013 at 2:19 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 17

What trade agreement did Nixon need so bad, as to create the FTA? How did he engineer it through Congress?

eCAHNomics June 9th, 2013 at 2:19 pm

What will be the process for TPP once the secret negotiations are completed?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:20 pm

April 15 was the first year of that agt – the official govt trade data showed a remarkable DECLINE in U.S. exports to Korea and a rise in imports from Korea, provoking a dramatic trade deficit increase that defies the Obama administration’s promises that the pact would expand U.S. exports and create U.S. jobs…

The Korea pact’s damaging outcomes being the opposite of the administration’s promises will certainly complicate the administration’s current efforts to use the same claims about export expansion to persuade Congress to delegate away its constitutional trade authority or to build support for the administration’s next trade deal – the massive 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) based on the same model.

eCAHNomics June 9th, 2013 at 2:20 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 20

Not on how much the corps that benefit contribute to pols’ campaign coffers?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Here is the actual data:

U.S. goods exports to Korea have dropped 10 percent (a $4.2 billion decrease) under the Korea FTA’s first year, in comparison to the year before FTA implementation. U.S. imports from Korea have climbed 2 percent (a $1.3 billion increase). The U.S. trade deficit with Korea has swelled 37 percent (a $5.5 billion increase). The ballooning trade deficit indicates the loss of tens of thousands of U.S. jobs.

The decline in U.S. exports under the Korea FTA contributed to an overall disappointing U.S. export performance in 2012, placing the United States far behind Obama’s stated goal to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. At the sluggish 2012 export growth rate of 2 percent, the United States will not achieve the president’s goal until 2032, 18 years behind schedule.

Many of the sectors that the Obama administration promised would be the biggest beneficiaries of the Korea FTA have actually been some of the deal’s largest losers:
 U.S. pork exports to Korea have declined 24 percent under the first year of the FTA relative to the year before FTA implementation.
 U.S. beef exports have fallen 8 percent.
 U.S. poultry exports have plunged 41 percent.
The U.S. deficit with Korea in autos and auto parts increased 16 percent in the first year of the FTA. U.S. auto imports from Korea have surged by more than $2.5 billion under the FTA’s first year. (FTA proponents have shamelessly touted “gains” in U.S. auto exports without revealing that this increase totaled just $130 million, with fewer than 1,000 additional U.S. automobiles sold in Korea relative to the 1.3 million Korean cars sold here in 2012.

You can read additional analysis of the government data on U.S. trade with Korea under the U.S.-Korea FTA at tradewatch.org

spocko June 9th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I’ve been listening to Dave Johnson talk about this for while and I’ve stunned by the power the TPP would have.

Could you please talk about some of the most egregious examples where US laws and constitution will take a back seat to TPP agreements?

bigbrother June 9th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Fast track provides the economic power to drive the security state globally in a one world government directed to benefit the wealthiest. Clinton started the law to download all electronic access through telecom hubs (1995). Then got NAFTA passed to effectively end union power. Consumer rights are gone as we have access limited to what big box stores offer. Small business have been gobbled into mega corporations. I watch the weekly reports on trade balance yuk. Big Brother is not only watching, recording, following us but is putting controls in place to behavior control us using state security as the excuse.

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Bev’s question on what Nixon wanted is very interesting… .actually, he was employing the crisis doctrine – using an old crisis created by Exec Branch overreach to create a “solution” that consolidated overreach…

Johnson had signed the Kennedy Round of GATT (the General Agt on Tariffs and Trade) that went beyond Congress’ delegation of trade authority so Congress had rejected that part of the GATT agt. Nixon came to Congress and said that this had caused a major intl incident and made other countries wary about negotiating with the US – this was BS, as the NEXT round of GATT negotiation had already STARTED

How Nixon pulled this off despite that is VERY interesting – it is one of the most interesting aspects of the book – so, I recommend reading it ;-)

The teasers involved: intoxicated Wilbur Mills (the guy known for the infamous dip in the tidal basin with the Argentine stripper), lies and false promises…

eCAHNomics June 9th, 2013 at 2:28 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 29

What does the U.S. meatpacking industry think about that? (Aside, reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.)

spocko June 9th, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Second question. Since I believe that Lobbying power by private special interests is the strongest power in our planet right now. And as Dave Johnson has said,

On top of this Congress faces massively-funded campaigns from the corporate interests served by the agreement, generating the appearance of popular support for the agreement.

Can you name some names of the specific corporations and their lobbying firms that are pushing agreements and the names of the front groups they are using?

Finally, since it is hard to fight huge special interests, what are the names of some corporations and groups that we can support who will fight for us?

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:29 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 32

Right, in your book you write that Presidents come to COngress with these short-notice votes to sign an agreement, and say that it will undermine the credibility of the President if they reject it. This short-circuits any argument about whether it is good or bad for us.

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Let me answer the question on what happens with TPP text…

If there is NO Fast Track, then it cannot be signed unless and until Congress votes to approve it and that vote would occur under normal procedures with full debate and amendments allowed.

If there is Fast Track, the administration can sign the agt before Cong votes, write “implementing” legislation that changes all US laws needed to conform with the TPP’s rules, submit that to Congress under terms that no committee amendments or review is allowed and that legislation is then forced to floor for a vote within 60 days in house and 90 days in Senate under no amendment terms with only 20 hours of debate – that’s right, Congress’ only role is post-facto vote once it is too late to do anything about the terms of the agt.

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:30 pm
In response to spocko @ 34

Here is one: The Chamber of Commerce. “To secure new market-opening trade agreements, Congress must renew the traditional trade negotiating authority that every president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has enjoyed. Sometimes called “trade promotion authority” or “fast track,” this trade negotiating authority gives the United States a seat at the table in international trade negotiations. However, this authority lapsed in 2007.”


BevW June 9th, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Korea Free Trade Agreement – Trade Watch / Public Citizen

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:32 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 36

So do you think that a good way to fight TPP (should it turn out to be an agreement that hurts American democracy and working people — HA!) is to launch a fight against Fast Track ASAP?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:33 pm

The sorts of US laws at risk with TPP include:

- us getting a backdoor SOPA – see EFF website for details
- roll back of Dodd-Frank and financial rereg rules – see Sen Warren’s recent committee speech on youtube on that
- roll back of last year’s imported food safety improvements – see Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s website for that
- Ban on Buy America procurement – see Rep. Donna Edwards letter to Pres. Obama with 90 of her House colleagues on that

Plus, an even more expansive version of the job offshoring incentives that were in NAFTA…

dakine01 June 9th, 2013 at 2:35 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 32

As a technical note, there is a “Reply” button in the lower right hand of each comment. Pressing “Reply” will pre-fill the commenter name and comment number being replied to and makes it easier for folks to follow the conversation.

Note: Some browsers do not let the Reply function correctly if it is pressed after a hard page refresh and before the page completes loading

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:36 pm

The best way to ensure that we do not have a NAFTA-on-steroids TPP is to make sure there is no Fast Track!

The groups who you can work with to ensure that there is no Fast Track…
- Citizens Trade Campaign http://www.citizenstrade.org They have field staff in many states – clickl on the map on their cite to connect to folks near you
- Global Trade Watch – us! Email Lacey Kohlmoos to get connected
- Sierra Club – check out their website
- Teamsters, CWA, Machinists and many other unions

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:36 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 40

And these are not about “trade” at all, really. These are about things that are supposed to be decided by our Congress.

This is like what we see happening when NRA or tobacco lobbyists control a state legislature, and they get the state to pass a law forbidding city and county governments from passing laws regulating tobacco or guns. Only this is getting a world law that overrides our ability to have a US law.

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Besides the Chamber, which represent many corps, the lobbying FOR TPP and Fast Track is basically THE list of big US corps progressive are always fighting…
- the chronic job offshoreers like GE, Cat etc
- the agribiz giants like Monsanto, Cargill, ADM etc
- the oil and gas titans – ALL OF THEM…
- Bug Pharma – you name the brand name drug firm and they are working on it
- Walmart et al – they want to import from Vietnam duty free (lower cost outsourcing alternative to China)

spocko June 9th, 2013 at 2:39 pm

The other thing that I heard Johnson talk about (I’ve heard him on In Deep Radio with Angie Corio) is how the America public really doesn’t have a voice in this agreement) could you talk about who is “representing us” and who they really are beholden to?

Also, since I really want to engage EVERYONE in this deals, say that I’m a Right Winger, what part of this proposed TPP would make my blood boil. Give me something that would make Hannity or Rush cry about and say, “Obama’s trade deal is going to ….” (because they will only talk about things that will make Obama look bad, not about things that will hurt the majority of American people.” I’m looking for ways that i can use their rage to help stop this deal.

spocko June 9th, 2013 at 2:41 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 44

Thanks. Any corporate allies?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:41 pm

The key to getting folks to realize that they must engage to stop Fast Track is make clear that the issue is NOT “trade”

Rather, “free trade agreement” is the brand being stamped on delivery vehicles for wide swaths of non-trade retrograde policies, many of which could not get through Congress in the sunshine of normal process.

bluedot12 June 9th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I’ve been trying to catch up, so maybe I missed this. Did you refer to this proposal as something that would affect our sovereignty and if so please explain.

Jeff Connaughton June 9th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Hi. In your NYT piece, you said a source says that the Trans-Pacific agreement includes provisions on financial services. At Michael Froman’s USTR confirmation hearing, he assured Sen Brown that only “market access” issues were appropriate for trade agreements and that he would not support including financial services provisions that would undermine Dodd-Frank or bilateral negotiations on bank capital requirements in the name of “regulatory coherence.”

Do you believe the Trans-Pacific agreement includes financial services provisions that go beyond any reasonable definition of “market access” related? That is, is Froman now obligated due to his answer to Sen Brown to narrow the scope of fin services provisions in the Trans-Pacific negotiation to date?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:44 pm

From the right, both TPP and Fast Track are really offensive…

TPP would involved submitting the US to the jurisdiction of United Nations and World Bank tribunals, which would be empowered to order payment of unlimited US Treasury dollars to foreign corps when they have to meet the same laws as US citizens and firms. A threat to our solvency and sovereignty

Fast Track rips up a fundamental check and balance the Founding Fathers put into the constitutions explicitly to CHECK imperial tendencies of presidents that might be inclined to use trade negotiations to impose policies against the national interest. Fast Track would lead to diplomatic legislating of U.S. submission to UN tribunals AND a trashing of states rights, as these trade rules internationally pre-empt US law

bluedot12 June 9th, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Oops I see you got some of this in 40.if I were a cynic I’d say Dodd frank is a joke anyway?

spocko June 9th, 2013 at 2:45 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 40

Great. Let’s focus on food safety.
Are you saying that this new trade agreement will allow China (the home of a number of the bizarre flus) will be able to send us their chickens and not have to go through USDA regs?
Or maybe China could send us baby formula that is laced with melamine (that killed Chinese babies) with no FDA inspections? (I’m not saying these are exactly what they mean, but I want some real scary examples I can make people see how this will impact them personally.)

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

In your book, a major these is that the Constitution gives CONGRESS trade authority, and Fast Track is really about Congress giving that authority away without really realizing it.

Article I, Section 8 The Congress shall have Power … To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations…

Article II, Section 2 [The President] shall have Power, by and with Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…

So have their been lawsuits challenging the resulting trade agreements as unconstitutional?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

To answer Jeff, Froman’s answer to Sen Brown was very sneaky: he assumed no one knows that the TPP “Market Access” rules BAN countries’ use of 5 common financial regulatory mechanisms. Banned even when applied equally to domestic and foreign firms are: bans on risky products or services (a ban is a forbidden “zero quota”); limits on size; mandatory legal forms (ie you must incorporate in this form to offer that service); needs tests and more.

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:50 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 50

You wrote, “empowered to order payment of unlimited US Treasury dollars to foreign corps when they have to meet the same laws as US citizens and firms”

Isn’t this already happening under some of the agreements already enacted?

spocko June 9th, 2013 at 2:50 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 50

TPP would involved submitting the US to the jurisdiction of United Nations and World Bank tribunals, which would be empowered to order payment of unlimited US Treasury dollars to foreign corps when they have to meet the same laws as US citizens and firms. A threat to our solvency and sovereignty

DING DING DING. Now you are talking. I can get you booked on Fox News with that. And by the way. *I* care about this stuff too, especially during the times when my country is run in my best interest, not the best interest of the transnational that just happens to sell stuff here.

bluedot12 June 9th, 2013 at 2:51 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 50

If this gets into our sovereignty over our money, it is by far the worst provision of all.

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:51 pm

On food safety, what we know of the proposed rules would require:
- we accept meat and poultry from all TPP nations fr any slaughter or processing facility that meets their domestic standards not our standards if they can show that their system provides “equivalent” protection to ours… This is a very worrying standard. Just for one example, before NAFTA we did not accept any meat imports from Mexico. After, we accepted meat for ALL Mexican facilities under the equivalence rule…

Fro TPP, seafood safety is especially worrying.

Jeff Connaughton June 9th, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I hope you have a piece in draft on that! Very helpful to know. Thanks and look forward to reading more from you on this.

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Hi Jeff, it’s best to use reply — which response are you referring to?

bluedot12 June 9th, 2013 at 2:52 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 55

Please do talk about that some more!!

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Spocko – please do get me on Fox! I also personally think that this provision is incredibly offensive. I don’t care if you call it sovereignty or democracy, either way these investor-tribunals are totally unacceptable.

Jeff Connaughton June 9th, 2013 at 2:55 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 60

Sorry. 54 on Froman’s “sneaky” response to Senator Brown at his confirmation hearing.

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Ah, yes, I was also surprised by that, too. Yes, very helpful to know!

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:57 pm

On what the previous agts allowed re. the foreign tribunals… Yes, this is an existing problem. NAFTA had these tribunals and do did CAFTA and some of the US FTAs – tho interestingly Australia said NO so the US-Australia FTA does NOT have this feature.

And, Australia is saying no to these tribunals in TPP – but the US is insisting on it.

What would be the big deal if these tribunals are in TPP?

1) MANY more corps in MANY more countries could attack each others domestic laws.
2) The substantive rights being proposed for TPP – the corp rights – are much broader – even to be able to go to the corp tribunals to enforce timber and other nat resource concessions against US govt on federal lands, procurement contracts and more
3) After 20 years of NAFTA – and over $400M paid out to corps under NAFTA’s tribunals over toxics bans, land use issues, timber, water, and other non-trade public interest policies – we should know better!! a la Australia which is saying NO or South AFrica which is getting OUT of its agts that have these tribunals or Brazil, which refuses to get into such deals

bluedot12 June 9th, 2013 at 2:58 pm

What specifically will this agreement do that will require treasury support?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Lots on the conflict between the FTA financial services market access rules and robust regulation at http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=783

spocko June 9th, 2013 at 3:00 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 58

Great. This is important because I know for a FACT that the Chinese food standards are a not as good as ours (and ours even need improving)

In China they like to wait until after the the death occur, and then they destroy the evidence and kill the head of the FDA. (2007 wheat gluten replaced by melamine killed 8,000 dogs and cats in the US sickening twice as many. Would 8,000 dead human babies been acceptable? (Maybe from the libertarians since the “market” would decide) But as an American I WANT the protections of the USDA and the FDA I don’t want them to be negotiated away.

bluedot12 June 9th, 2013 at 3:01 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 65

Those tribunals sound like sheer idiocy.

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:02 pm

The investor tribunals are empowered to order unlimited sums of a nation’s resources to be paid to foreign investors’ whose new special privileges have been undermined. Thus, each nation’s Treasury must compensate foreign investors as the tribunals order. There is no outside appeal. And, failure to pay results in seizure of govt assets.

spocko June 9th, 2013 at 3:02 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 62

Have Dave pass on my contact information. I will need to provide you some media training to teach you how to throw them some red meat, but I think we can work something out…

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 3:02 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 65

So this is sort of like the right-wing “takings” laws? Where they pass a law that government has to pay compensation for any regulations that cost someone money … so if you own a few acres in a suburb youcan get copensation because they won’t let you start uo a pig farm…

Is THIS is what “investor” tribunals are about? (Where “investor” means those who already have lots of money, and “government regulations” means people in a state or country try to make their lives better…)

bluedot12 June 9th, 2013 at 3:03 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 70

Oh my heavens, more idiocy, no insanity.

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Check out my two part detailed blog on the tribuinals and TPP here


and, for memos and fact sheets and a chart of call tribunal cases under US FTAs, go herehttp://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=5411&frcrld=1

bluedot12 June 9th, 2013 at 3:05 pm

So this thing is just nuts. How do we sidetrack it?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

The tribunals go beyond even the most extreme version of “regulatory takings” compensation, tho that is also required

Under a substantive standard called a guaranteed minimum standard of treatment, investors are promised that there wont be any change in regulatory climate or policy once they have invested. So, for instance, one case now underway is from a European firm suing Egypt over the increase in the minimum wage after Egypt’s revolution… seriously.

Another case is against Quebec’s fracking moratorium – by a gas company called Lone Pine that was invested before the moratorium went into [place

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:10 pm

The investment tribunals are one of the things that make TPP vulnerable on a trans-partisan basis… This is also in the new US-Europe FTA Obama has announced, which is even more lunatic given there is NO excuse for such a system in an agt between parties with developed courts and proprety rights laws (the ostensible reason for this system is if there is investment in a country where the courts do not function and the investment if expropriated)

spocko June 9th, 2013 at 3:10 pm

The Children, the Children, won’t someone think about the Children!

It’s become a joke (on the Simpsons and other places) but I know that it hits a nerve so people use it.

Any more specific ways how the TPP will either kill white middle class children or make their lives (and the lives of their parents) worse? Where foreign “standards” will be imposed instead of US state standards?

bluedot12 June 9th, 2013 at 3:10 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 76

The more you talk the more I have the reverse question. Why would anyone want to negotiate these terms, I mean like the President or Executive branch? Are they that stoopid? Send them your book with a strong letter.

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:11 pm

The way we can stop TPP is to stop Fast Track. To do that, everyone must contact their House member and get a commitment that he or she will not vote for Fast Track!

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 3:13 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 76

OK, that is huge. A company is suing Egypt for increasing their minimum wage?

So under these “trade” agreements a company could sue a US “right-to-work” state for changing this anti-union law, because they had opened a factory there expecting to get docile, low-wage workers with few rights?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:13 pm

The people in the administration negotiating these investment terms believe unbendingly that they are a good idea, that investors SHOULD get compensated for changes in policy and that these terms are “balanced” I kid you not…

The only thing to be done about that is to make sure that Congress does not give a Fast Track blank check to those officials…

bluedot12 June 9th, 2013 at 3:13 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 80

Will be done!! Also letter to WH.

bluedot12 June 9th, 2013 at 3:15 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 81

It is hard to believe this stuff. Are we sure this is happening here in the US?

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 3:15 pm
In response to bluedot12 @ 79

bluedot12 –

In my CAF post, TPP: A Deregulation Treaty Not A Trade Treaty, I wrote about how the negotiating process itself is a setup,

“The upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is using a process that is rigged from the start. It is not being negotiated by governments for the benefit of their people, it is being negotiated by executives (or future executives/lobbyists currently in government) largely for the benefit of the giant corporations they serve. The process has these giant corporations “in the loop” but groups citizens, working people, consumers, the environment, human rights groups and especially democracy are not part of the process. That can only go one way: if you don’t have a seat at the table you are on the table — the meal.”

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:17 pm

That case Veolia vs Egypt – has not been decided, but yes Dave in principle what you suggest is consistent with this case… It was filed in June 2012 under the France-Egypt BIT. The company argues that changes to local labor laws – including recent increases in minimum wages – have impacted negatively on the company despite contract provisions designed to buffer the concessionaire from the financial implications of any such legal changes.”

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Nice one, Dave re meal… that is sadly accurate.

And, if there is Fast Track we will all be ON the table, with the public and Congress not having any seat AT the table..

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:20 pm

BTW, folks who want to buy the Fast Track book, which is actually a rather fun read (says more than me and my mom…) you can get it here:

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Lori, earlier I asked if there have been lawsuits challenging these agreements because they appear to go outside of how our Constitution clearly spells out the chain of authority. Congress (We the People) is supposed to tell the executive (the branch that executes the instructons of the Congress) what they want in a trade agreement, etc.

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 3:24 pm
In response to Dave Johnson @ 89

“Balance of powers” and all that…

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Unfortunately, past efforts to challenge the constitutionality of the “trade” agts that resulted from Fast Track have not gotten past the technical “standing” phase… ie there must be a specific injured party and that injury standard does not include loss of democratic rights in general…

BUT, the best way to ensure that we do not have more of the same job-killing, unsafe-food-importing, sovereignty-killing agts is to make sure there is no more Fast Track and that requires each of us to write to our Representative and get a formal commitment that he or she will vote no against any request to give away their constitutional trade autrhority

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 3:29 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 88

Also you can click on the name of the book in the post above.

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has been saying he will oppose Fast Track. I know that Sen Elizabeth Warren says it looks like TPP is an “end run” by Wall Street around American efforts to regulate them.

Are there any leading Republicans opposing Fast Track for sovereignty reasons? Is Rand Paul talking about this?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

It would be very interesting for folks joining on today who live in congressional districts represented by conservative GOP to write or call their Representative to inquire whether they intend to give their constitutional trade authority over to Pres. Obama and if so, why, given their general take on him not being, lets just say, in agreement with the same values and goals, as conservative GOP

Jeff Connaughton June 9th, 2013 at 3:33 pm
In response to Lori Wallach @ 87

And Froman running the show. Ack! This is the new front for financial reg. The Business Roundtable letter shows Wall Street is not kidding around about getting favorable trade deals. Jack Lew needs to get some pressure on this.

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 3:34 pm

You have identified the issues here.

We are in the end-phase of the open comments — can you let readers know what organizations to support, who is on the front lines? Were can we get good information? What are good sources for news? Some twitter addresses to follow?

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Ron Paul ALWAYS opposed Fast Track in his many years in Congress. For instance, see him here railing against Fast Track’s constitutional threats during the 2002 debate Congressional Record, 105th Congress (1997-1998). GPO record: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-1998-09-25/pdf/CREC-1998-09-25-pt1-PgH8765-2.pdf#page=32

Lori Wallach June 9th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

If you want to help stop Fast Track, please sign up for action alters on Fast Track and TPP at tradewatch.org At the bottom of the page you can sign up with your email.

You can also get regular news updates at our eyesontrade blog – follow the RSS feed! http://citizen.typepad.com/eyesontrade/

Also, check out http://www.ExposetheTPP.org it is a great action oriented site

BevW June 9th, 2013 at 3:43 pm

As we come to the last few minutes of this great Book Salon discussion. Are there any last comments you would like to make?

Lori, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book, and the devastating effects of the Fast Track Trade Authority.

Dave, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Lori’s website (Public Citizen / Global Trade Watch) and book

Dave’s website and Twitter

Thanks all, Have a great week.
If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

Dave Johnson June 9th, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Thanks Bev and FDL for asking me to host this discussion. Thanks Lori for writing this great book and thanks for being here to answer questions! Especially thanks for your ongoing work in these areas!

The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority is available at https://secure.citizen.org/t/13059/shop/shop.jsp?storefront_KEY=991

CTuttle June 9th, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Mahalo, Lori and Dave for your excellent work in exposing the TTP…!

defogger June 9th, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I hope the tea party doesn’t sell-out s they did with the banksters. This is a game-over issue for America. Zero American interests are benefactors. This is our national interests being sold out by a treasonous political culture in the pocket of an international investor class.Bigger than class warfare,the national interests of main st. against the international interests of Wall St.

We don’t need Wall St., and should throw these transnational carpetbaggers out of our homeland before they use their austerity policy to pick over our rotting economic carcass.They can self-deport once we quit subsidizing a dumping policy against ourselves and place tariffs on their recycled transhipments .Their corporate charters are near-worthless.

The problem with fighting TPP is the same as fighting CU, insofar as such reactionary tweaking leaves us with the fundamental problems.We need to uproot the neoliberal paradigm,for-profit banking and have publicly financed elections so the citizenry is not given a catch-22 choice of electing the viable candidate who becomes viable from anti-American funding.

If we can stop TPP, only tiny ambitions prevent us from making comprehensive change. I can promise that unions will fight with the corporatists, so this is about an organized public standing up for its survival.

Sorry but the comments are closed on this post