Sample Letter to Congress About Fast Track and the TPP

Dear _______________;

It is crucial that you oppose Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Fast Track, or Trade Promotion Authority, undermines the checks and balances of the United States Constitution.  It results in the Congress not being able to fulfill its Constitutional obligations under the Commerce Clause which states that Congress has the responsibility “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.” Trade is a congressional responsibility that needs to be fulfilled.

The TPP is the largest agreement since the World Trade Organization was negotiated in 1995.  It will affect every aspect of our lives and dramatically increase the power of transnational corporations, indeed making them more powerful than governments.  Congress needs to do its duty under the Constitution: that means holding hearings, listening to the testimony of expert witnesses and proposing amendments to the agreement.

Already, President Obama is showing no respect for Congress. While 600 corporate advisers have access to the text in live-time and are suggesting amendments to the US Trade Representative, members of Congress have to go through a time-intensive process merely to see a summary of the agreement. And, you are not allowed to tell us, your constituents, what is in the agreement.  This opaque approach undermines the Constitution, democracy and makes it impossible for you to fulfill your obligations.  Fast Track gives all power to President Obama when the Constitution gives power over trade to Congress.

We know the damage trade agreements can do to the economy, environment and workers. The TPP is an expansion of NAFTA, building on the worst provisions of that agreement. As a direct result of NAFTA, hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost in the United States. Because of NAFTA, there are fewer good jobs, more struggling family farms, less stable food systems, and weaker consumer safety measures. Social and economic inequalities are growing.

NAFTA’s intellectual property rules continue to undermine access to affordable medicine, and its financial service provisions have undermined banking regulations. NAFTA fueled even more the conditions that precipitated an economic emigration crisis and exacerbated a false drug war, leading to mass-scale human rights abuses where tens of thousands of citizens have been the victims. It has degraded the earth and its ecosystems in numerous ways, including from mining and other resource extraction projects, and has had pronounced effects on indigenous peoples’ sovereignty.

Subsequent trade agreements have similarly propelled a race to the bottom in wages, labor rights and environmental protection, as well as deregulation and privatization, contributing to the worldwide financial and climate crises.

From what we have seen of leaked provisions of the TPP, the agreement will expand on these failed approaches of NAFTA, weaken our economy, add to unemployment and continue the race to the bottom for lower wages.   The agreement will be a gift to transnational corporations at the expense of the people and the environment.

The TPP is also a threat to national sovereignty as it gives great powers to foreign investors.  If a foreign corporation operates in the United States and Congress passes an environmental, labor, consumer or other law in the public interest, the corporation can sue in a “trade tribunal” for the loss of “expected future profits.” The suit will come before a trade tribunal where a three judge panel, mostly made up of corporate lawyers on temporary leave from their corporate job, will decide the case.  This rigged system will dissuade the United States and other countries from putting in place laws for the public interest because they know they will be sued and forced to pay millions to corporations.

The experience with trade tribunals shows how costly this will be to our government.

Global Trade Watch reports that under previous trade agreements “Over $3 billion has been paid to foreign investors under US trade and investment pacts, while over $14 billion in claims are pending under such deals, primarily targeting environmental, energy, and public health policies.” By the end of 2011, corporations like Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Dow Chemical, and Cargill had launched 450 investor-state cases against 89 governments, including the US, to fight regulations that protect the environment. Among these cases were challenges to bans on toxic chemicals and hydrofracking, timber and mining regulations, programs that incentivized green jobs and renewable energy programs.

We need to learn from previous mistakes when it comes to trade.  We urge you to oppose Fast Track as a first step to allowing a democratic debate on the TPP.  We expect to hear your position on this issue by September 17, 2013 as on that day there will be an international day of action on the TPP.  We want to know whether you are with the people or against us by that date.

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter, we look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Leave a Reply