Gaius Publius: What’s Wrong with Wyden-Hatch-Ryan’s Fast Track Bill – The Specifics

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, Americablog, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. This piece first appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.

When we first reported on the introduction of Fast Track legislation — the bill that makes it possible for Obama and corporate Congress men and women to pass TPP, the next NAFTA-style “trade” agreement, by neutering Congress’ role in the process — we said that the new bill was being analyzed.

That analysis is done, and the results are in. This version of Fast Track is worse than the last version, a bill which failed to pass Congress in 2014. Here are the specifics (pdf) via Lori Wallach at Public Citizen, the go-to person for “trade” analysis. I’m going to focus on the main problems so you’re not overwhelmed with detail. Your take-aways:

  • What was bad in the prior agreement is worse, despite Wyden’s intervention.
  • Every attempt in the bill to make TPP conform to mandated worker, environmental and currency protections is unenforceable.

Note that the bill failed to attract a single Democratic co-sponsor in the House. This is not a bipartisan bill; it’s a Wyden-plus-Republicans bill, at least so far. Wallach starts (my emphasis everywhere):

The trade authority bill introduced today would revive the controversial Fast Track procedures to which which nearly all U.S. House of Representatives Democrats and a sizable bloc of House Republicans already have announced opposition. Most of the text of this bill replicates word-for-word the text of the 2014 Fast Track bill, which itself replicated much of the 2002 Fast Track bill. Public Citizen calls on Congress to again oppose the outdated, anti-democratic Fast Track authority as a first step to replacing decades of “trade” policy that has led to the loss of millions of middle-class jobs and the rollback of critical public interest safeguards.

In the past 21 years, Fast Track authority has been authorized only once by Congress – from 2002 to 2007. In 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives voted down Fast Track for President Bill Clinton, with 71 GOP members joining 171 House Democrats.

Click through in the first paragraph to see the extent of the declared opposition in Congress. There is considerable undeclared opposition as well, hidden in the “not sure” statements of members, especially Republicans.

Now some of what’s wrong. (For a side-by-side comparison of this Fast Track bill with the failed last one, click here; it’s enlightening. Hardly anything changed.)

Fast Track Grants “Trade Authority” to the Next President As Well

Wallach, from the Public Citizen press release:

Today’s bill explicitly grandfathers in Fast Track coverage for the almost-completed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and would extend Fast Track procedures for three to six years. …

“Congress is being asked to delegate away its constitutional trade authority over the TPP, even after the administration ignored bicameral, bipartisan demands about the agreement’s terms, and then also grant blank-check authority to whomever may be the next president for any agreements he or she may pursue,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

Not a small issue for a Republican-dominated Congress facing Hillary Clinton as the likely next Democratic nominee.

The Bill Makes Congress’ Declared “Negotiating Objectives” Unenforceable


The trade authority proposal does not require negotiators to actually meet Congress’ negotiating objectives in order to obtain the Fast Track privileges, making the bill’s negotiating objectives entirely unenforceable. …

Today’s bill would empower the executive branch to unilaterally select partner countries for a trade pact, determine an agreement’s contents through the negotiating process, and then sign and enter into an agreement – all before Congress voted to approve a trade pact’s contents, regardless of whether a pact met Congress’ negotiating objectives [as promised in the Fast Track bill.]

Under this Fast Track bill, this president and the next one can sign any agreement she or he wishes with anyone she or he wishes, containing any provisions she or he wishes, regardless of what Congress declares as its “negotiating objectives.” Then that trade bill would come before Congress for an up-or-down vote. The bill would also:

Require votes in both the House and Senate within 90 days, forbidding any amendments and limiting debate to 20 hours, whether or not Congress’ negotiating objectives were met.


The Hatch bill includes several negotiating objectives not found in the 2002 Fast Track authority, most of which were also in the 2014 bill. However, the Fast Track process that the legislation would re-establish ensures that these negotiating objectives are entirely unenforceable. Whether or not Congress’ negotiating objectives are met, the president could sign a pact before Congress approves it and obtain a yes or no vote in 90 days.

Is the unenforceability of these “objectives” an accident or a feature? From Obama’s point of view (and Hillary Clinton’s?) it has to be a feature, since it enshrines executive power. One doesn’t usually neuter your opponents in a knock-down drag-out fight by accident. That tends to be the goal.

Keep this in mind — nothing any progressive cares about will be allowed in a Fast Tracked trade bill. When some corporate Democrat talks about how this Fast Track bill puts requirements on the administration in areas like environmental protection, labor practices (including union-busting and even -murdering), and currency manipulation, just say, “Read the language; isn’t gonna happen.” Those “requirements” do not have to be met under this law.

About Currency Manipulation “Rules”

Wallach says that even if the currency manipulation requirements were enforceable (and they’re not), that enforcement would change nothing.

Some of the Hatch bill negotiating objectives advertised as “new” are in fact identical to what was in the 2014 bill and were referenced in the 2002 Fast Track. For example, the 2002 Fast Track included currency measures: “seek to establish consultative mechanisms among parties to trade agreements to examine the trade consequences of significant and unanticipated currency movements and to scrutinize whether a foreign government engaged in a pattern of manipulating its currency to promote a competitive advantage in international trade.” (19 USC 3802(c)(12)) The so-called “new” text in the Hatch bill repeats word-for-word what was in the 2014 Fast Track bill: “The principal negotiating objective of the United States with respect to currency practices is that parties to a trade agreement with the United States avoid manipulating exchange rates in order to prevent effective balance of payments adjustment or to gain an unfair competitive advantage over other parties to the agreement, such as through cooperative mechanisms, enforceable rules, reporting, monitoring, transparency, or other means, as appropriate.”

Parties to the agreement should “avoid” manipulating exchange rates? As Wallach points out:

Even if Congress had the power to ensure that this negotiating objective was met, the language of this negotiating objective itself does not require enforceable disciplines on currency manipulation to be included in the TPP or other deals obtaining Fast Track treatment. Despite the requests from bipartisan majorities of both houses of Congress that enforceable currency manipulation disciplines be included in the TPP, the Hatch negotiating objective lists “enforceable rules” as just one approach among several non-binding options for the TPP and other Fast Tracked deals.

Not much currency protection there, but again, if CEOs want to make a ton of money manufacturing in and trading with China and its subsidiaries in TPP countries, they have to play ball the Chinese way. So despite “tough” language, that currency manipulation is here until the Chinese, and only they, decide to change their policy. It’s the cost of doing business there — a cost, I’ll add, only the consumer pays. The profit goes straight to the CEO class bottom line.

One more point about that currency manipulation — there’s talk that even the administration won’t risk a confrontation on that score. One method of retaliation would be for the Chinese to not show up for the next Treasury auction, throwing a big wrench into U.S. interest rates. This is a complex subject — is the existence of Chinese-bought, zero-interest-paying U.S. Treasury bonds a form of ownership (by the Chinese) or a form of tribute paid by the Chinese to the U.S.?

Consider that last point carefully. David Graeber makes it in his great book, Debt: The First Five Thousand Years. One way ancient emperors ruled the provinces (and ripped them off) was to force them to buy his debt. In the ancient world, that was called “tribute.”

As long as the U.S. holds the eventual military cards, “tribute” is likely what the U.S. sees when it sees foreign purchase of its bonds. My suggestion: Start to worry when that military balance shifts. My other suggestion: None of that shift will occur before climate change starts to devastate and deconstruct both nations. At that point, currency manipulation will be moot, to say the least. The Chinese won’t be worried about exchange rates if the North China Plain, its too-far-south, too-close-to-sea-level “breadbasket,” is starting to flood.

Improved Transparency with Hatch-Wyden-Ryan Fast Track? The Opposite

Many are going to tout the bill’s increase in transparency, meaning people will actually get to read the TPP treaty before it’s signed. But, according to Wallach:

Provisions that are being touted as improving transparency, by empowering the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to develop standards for staff access to negotiating texts, would in fact provide a statutory basis for the unacceptable practice of requiring congressional staff to have security clearances to view any draft trade pact text and would fail to match even the level of transparency seen during the Bush administration’s trade negotiations. A close read of a new provision requiring USTR to post a trade agreement text on its website 60 days before signing reveals that this timing would be 30 days after the agreement was initialed and the text locked, meaning the text would only become public after it was too late for the public or Congress to demand changes.

I’ve had concerns that under Fast Track, even members of Congress may not see a full treaty before voting on it. I’ve had that concern answered; according to one member of Congress in a recent conference call, he would have access. I wasn’t able to ask the follow-up question: “Would his staff also see the treaty?” I think the answer is above.

Look at it this way. The treaty is toxic in its language. Members of Congress can only read it in “reading rooms” without taking notes. If staff can see it at all, they have to have appropriate security clearances — because the treaty is being classified as a national security document. When Obama lobbied members of Congress recently about passing Fast Track and TPP, he threatened them that if they talked about what they heard in the meeting, they’d be charged with a crime:

As the Obama administration gives House Democrats a hard sell on a major controversial trade pact this week, it will be doing so under severe conditions: Any member of Congress who shares information with the public from a Wednesday briefing could be prosecuted for a crime.

In that atmosphere, and with treaty language that toxic, why would any administration allow copies to float through the halls of Congress? There are 435 House members and 100 senators. Let’s say each has two staff members who would be assigned to read this treaty. You’re now looking at between 535 and over 1000 copies on Capitol Hill. You’d have to assume that one of those copies goes to the press, and then, for Obama, it’s game over.

Bottom line on transparency — isn’t going to happen. If Obama wanted transparency, we wouldn’t be looking to Wikileaks for our only copies.

What About the New “Human Rights” Negotiating Objective?

The Wyden-Hatch-Ryan bill contains new language about “human rights,” but if you read this far, you know how effective that is likely to be. Wallach:

Today’s bill includes a new negotiating objective related to human rights: “to promote respect for internationally recognized human rights.” But since the bill does not alter the fundamental Fast Track process, the president still would be able to unilaterally pick countries with serious human rights abuses as trade negotiating partners, initiate negotiations with them, conclude negotiations, and sign and enter into the trade agreement with the governments committing the abuses, with no opportunity for Congress to require the president to do otherwise.

Again, unenforceable is the feature, not the bug.

The “Exit Ramp” from Fast Track? Worse Than the Exit Ramp in the Last Fast Track

Proponents of the Wyden-negotiated “exit ramp” — by which the Fast Track process can be ended — ensures that there’s way for Congress to take back its power. Not only is that not true, but it’s a “feature” of this Fast Track bill that’s even worse than the 1988 Fast Track bill. Wallach again:

Instead of establishing a new “exit ramp,” the bill literally replicates the same impossible conditions from past Fast Track bills that make the “procedural disapproval” mechanism to remove an agreement from Fast Track unusable. A resolution to do so must be approved by both the Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means committees and then be passed by both chambers within 60 days. The bill’s only new feature in this respect is a new “consultation and compliance” procedure that would only be usable after an agreement was already signed and entered into, at which point changes to the pact could be made only if all other negotiating parties agreed to reopen negotiations and then agreed to the changes (likely after extracting further concessions from the United States). That process would require approval by 60 Senators to take a pact off of Fast Track consideration, even though a simple majority “no” vote in the Senate would have the same effect on an agreement. In contrast, the 1988 Fast Track empowered either the House Ways and Means or the Senate Finance committees to vote by simple majority to remove a pact from Fast Track consideration, with no additional floor votes required. And, such a disapproval action was authorized before a president could sign and enter into a trade agreement.

So the new exit ramp requires approval by the appropriate Senate and House committees and passage on the floor of both chambers — all of this only after the treaty was signed by all parties, thus requiring that negotiations be reopened on a signed-by-all-parties treaty. What are the odds of that?

By contrast the 1988 Fast Track bill provided a less stringent “exit” from Fast Track via a simple vote of the relevant committees only, and before the treaty was signed. Wyden sold himself for this? It was apparently the sticking point for him.

What Is “Free Trade” Really? Unrestricted Capital Flow

I won’t go long into this here, but in essence “free trade” means one thing to most of us and another thing to people with money. For us, “free trade” is about exchange of goods. Not for those with almost all the money in the world. For them, “free trade” is and always has been this:

“Free trade” means “unrestricted capital flow.” It’s the right of money to flow anywhere it wants, seeking any profit it can, unrestricted by any government, and then flow back out again on a whim.

Before FDR, this is what “liberalism” meant; it’s why people like the infamous free-market economist Friedrich Hayek are considered “classic liberal economists.” FDR so changed the definition of “liberal,” in fact — by allowing a place for government in the management of the economy — that it led people like Hayek to object that the name had been misappropriated:

In 1977, Hayek was critical of the Lib-Lab pact, in which the British Liberal Party agreed to keep the British Labour government in office. Writing to The Times, Hayek said, “May one who has devoted a large part of his life to the study of the history and the principles of liberalism point out that a party that keeps a socialist government in power has lost all title to the name ‘Liberal’. Certainly no liberal can in future vote ‘Liberal'”.

This “free market” stuff has been with us for centuries in the West, and it’s always about capital and the rights of capital to be free of government. Guess whom that benefits? If you said “capitalists and the politicians who serve them,” you’d be right. You can’t have a predatory Industrial Revolution without that kind of “philosophy” in place as a cover story.

Needless to say, the cover story is still in place. Welcome to the world of TPP.

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  1. JohnnyGL

    Good write-up. My only issue is with the part that starts the last bold heading, “What Is “Free Trade” Really? Unrestricted Capital Flow

    Gaius Publius isn’t nearly harsh enough here. It’s not about making capital “free” from goverment. When we talk about ISDS machinery, it’s about neutering the architecture of democracy to create a world where capital is elevated to superior status (something akin to planters in the ante-bellum south) and insulated from all risk. Society must absorb that risk and if capital isn’t happy, society has to pay up according to what capital says society owes it. Two branches (judicial and legislative) of the US Government are subordinated in this world.

    This means capital isn’t ‘free’ from government, but dominant over democracy and the rule of law.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        “Please sir, may I have some more?”. Please keep punching me, I like it because you’ve taught me I am not a good person and I am not worthy. I am not a billionaire banking criminal, I am not a billionaire rap star, I am not a billionaire job-killing visa-exploiting tech star. You taught me that the Mandarins in our Congress know better than I ever will, if they and our Manchurian Basketballer-in-Chief want this for me then it must be good for me. You’ve taught me I am not smart enough to know about all of these things, all those nice men on TV keep saying this is good for me, who could be against “free trade” after all? Here let me lie down in a different position now so you can punch the other side of my body, I deserve it.

  2. TedWa

    Anyone see Obama straight faced lying about these trade agreements and trying to play them off as innocuous? If these were innocuous trade agreements, fast track would be a given, but they’re 95% about American government and corporate totalitarianism than about free trade. Impoverished nations would be exploited at will for their resources, Monsanto and ilk would force their monoculture ag on the entire world, banksters would be able to bankrupt nation states rather than just US states, it’s greed pure and simple. It’s about opening up the world to the Wall St casino and corruption like never before. All the money in the world is not enough for them. This is about a new Constitution for the world that is the opposite of the American Constitution. Scary $hit. Wall St bankrupted the world and thanks to Obama, they aren’t done yet.

  3. susan the other

    CSPAN last nite. The Senate Finance Committee, Chair Orin Hatch and minority Wyden. The witnesses were Dohahue speaking for the corporations and Trumka speaking for labor. Fast track must already be a done deal because the committee hearing was so sparsely attended. Schumer showed up and held his head in his hands. Wyden whined his way through an apology speech. Hatch pretended to be compassionate. It was all for show because this decision looks to have been made. And the bit above, about state secrets and national interest – that clearly indicates the true nature of this trade agreement. It is a thinly veiled military alliance and the president can allow any exception he/she chooses in order to maintain a “trade” ally. Which means all the bluster about establishing rules for future trade that China can’t break are nonsense.

    1. mad as hell.

      The self serving politicians keep pushing the envelope. The blow back has to be considerable for them to stop. No repercussions from the populace then keep on stacking the deck. At some point this will end. Concerning the representatives of the people, the uglier the better.

    2. Kokuanani

      I guess I missed the original story, but could someone explain to me why Wyden is sponsoring this monstrosity?

      Businesses in Oregon that will benefit???

      Obama’s got something on him, or offering him something?

      I don’t get it.

      1. tim s

        Understanding that politics is in a large part theater, it may well be that Wyden has been given the part of the “champion of the common man” for enough time for us to trust or even count on him so that when he is given the role of the bad guy with the objective to screw us in the biggest way possible, noone will believe it until it is too late.

        Would Lindsay Graham have the same chance for success as Wyden in this role? I doubt it.

        Speculation, but not too big a stretch.

      2. Carla

        Wyden is a quisling (a person who betrays his or her own country by aiding an invading enemy, often serving later in a puppet government; fifth columnist–

        What is the TPP if not an invading enemy? Supporting it is treason.

        1. Procopius

          Ordinarily I’d be yelling about “treason is defined in the Constitution, and …” I guess it’s time to go back to the older meaning of the word.

      3. Oregoncharles

        He’s a crook and an arrogant SOB. And he thinks he’s immune politically.
        But at this point, one goal of the Oregon Pacific Green Party is to take him out in the election next year. That means, as I said at more length below, we need the strongest candidate we can find. Suggestions. anyone? I’ll check back later.

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Quantum Nature of Economics – Labor is Capital and Capital is Labor.

    When new money is delivered to the People directly and immediately, it’s possible to envision Labor having Capital.

    This duality is to be differentiated from the Moral Observer Effect – that is, when you use your mind to probe your own moral, and when you think you are good, when you believe you are virtuous, you have changed yourself. Thus, in Zen, one is urged to lose oneself, to become ‘the arrow.’

  5. Alejandro

    …“What Is “democracy” Really? Nobody seems to know.
    From my POV, “democracy” is a mirage, born out of the thirst of the human spirit to appropriate the power to affect the conditions of our lives. The term has transcended as a meme and fits comfortably in the category of psittacism…Representative? Yeah rrright!

    Secrecy is the wellspring of unaccountable power.

    Politricks has become the art and science of recycling trust despite a history of broken promises.

    “It’s easier to fool people than convince them they’ve been fooled.”- Mark Twain

  6. washunate

    I think pretty much everybody not part of the system agrees that NAFTA, TTIP, TPP, fast track, and other corporatist tools are silly and stupid. Never mind the details, the concept itself is the problem. The complexity is purposeful obfuscation to hide the simple fact that these are petty frauds, advanced by people with academic credentials wearing spiffy suits. Nothing fancier or smarter or more interesting is happening than that.

    But I’m particularly intrigued by the end of this post, because it offers such an incomplete picture of the actual choice we confront: do we want a system of political economy based on capitalism and representative democracy (one where individual rights and prices set in competitive markets allocates resources), or do we want something else (a more centralized socialist state, a more decentralized libertarian one, a society that rejects nation states altogether, etc.)?

    The description in the post is not at all what free trade means to ‘us’. (There is no unified us, of course, since opposition to corporate trade pacts comes from both market-based capitalists and leftist socialists that want to do away with markets). The idea that trade only means goods is a fantastic insight into the materialism and obsession with money that infects much of leftist thought in the US specifically and the West more generally. The most fundamental aspects of free trade are people and ideas. Goods, services, and capital are of lesser importance.

    And that’s not what free trade means to ‘them’, either. To the authoritarians, free trade isn’t unrestricted capital flow and the absence of government involvement. It is restrictions of all kinds of flow and government meddling everywhere. The authoritarians love controlling things. They love using government to interfere with society. They don’t want your money to flow freely, and they certainly don’t want you spending your time however you want. They want lots and lots and lots of restrictions, restrictions they helpfully design and enforce. You know, for our own good.

    1. jrs

      In my heart I want decentralized, localized, libertarian socialism, with democratic workplaces and politics etc. (anachro-syndicalism anyone?). It’s closer to the system human beings lived in for most of their existence. But I’m not always convinced it’s up to the problems and power of the modern world. We do have global problems, but in truth our global economic system at present is no more equipped to deal with them than any other and probably less.

      When dealing with a problem like say the drought and California agriculture, so how are we going to eat again? I often think state socialism is the only answer to production for actual human needs (yes such a socialism might involve moving some agriculture out of Cali to other states, but it wouldn’t mean moving it too to china). But then on reflection I realize the opposite of “free trade”, protectionism, a market with trade as there has pretty much always been trade, but high tariffs might work (it wouldn’t hurt if they started enforcing things like anti-trust as well, in addition to the tariffs of course). That even capitalism though still exploitive *might* be somewhat workable in those constraints, if the race to the bottom over the whole globe wasn’t the final arbitrator of everything.

      1. jrs

        But I have no power to enact utopia anyway, none of us do. We all know what we’re powerless over, we can call our “representatives” but we can’t make them listen, even in cases when it’s the vast majority. We can call, we can protest, but If they are heck bent to pass the TPP they probably will. :(

        What power if any DO we possess? How and in what system could we actually HAVE power? What TACTICS might work? Maybe it’s tactics we should think of.

        1. hemeantwell

          But I have no power to enact utopia anyway, none of us do.

          I think the point that is being made with increasing frequency is that we have to think on a utopian/systemic level. We have to match capital’s systemic breadth, even if it is only to think about dismantling it for something more regional or locally responsive (I have my doubts about how far that can go). Aside from the practical necessity of being able to assure potential supporters that we’re not simply “wreckers,” writers like Jameson worry that an inability or reluctance to think at this level leads to the popularity of mass destruction movies, an alternative to capitalism is otherwise unimaginable. To the extent this is so, it only contributes to a kind of hopeless, nihilistic political climate that leaves the field to the corporations.

      2. washunate

        I think California water usage is a great example of this. Industrial agriculture specifically and commercial usage of water more generally is a creature of public policy. Private actors are legally taking public resources. The reason it is legal is precisely because that’s the management philosophy running our government.

        Intellectual property more recently, the banking developments that led to consolidated farmland further in our past, the ongoing under-pricing (ie, subsidization) of water usage by large commercial interests, ag subsidies that disproportionately go to large businesses, the hollowing out of progressive income taxation, and so on, are central elements of the looting that Serious People just don’t talk about. It’s not polite.


        As far as tactics, I very much agree. But I think that leaves us with several major takeaways, my three cents if you will:

        1) Realize and accept how bad things are. It has been quite fascinating to me how a lot of more educated and comfortable liberals/leftists/Democrats have tried to downplay the extent of the systemic, institutionalized crapitude facing us over the past couple decades. We have to understand a problem before anything successful can be done about it. Which is why there’s so much deception, of course.

        2) Withdraw consent where it is easy for you personally to withdraw it. Be aware about putting your kids in jeopardy at a protest where police are beating people or about speaking up at work in a work environment where opinions are not tolerated. But the true beauty of our system is that it gets people to voluntarily consent and self-censor even when failure to comply does not place oneself in any particular danger. In other words, be aware there are lots of other ways you can mess things up asymmetrically, and this varies from person to person (and of course, some are willing to be martyrs at considerable sacrifice, and merely talking about these people as people goes to great lengths to break through the propaganda). Indeed, the unpredictability of decentralized, leaderless action (ie, personal responsibility) can drive centralized bureaucracies nuts. Look at how a handful of whistleblowers in the national security state over the past decade have gotten under the skin of our leadership class.

        Don’t try and change the corporate media. Simply refuse to use the framing and justifications and doublespeak. If you have time at the airport, make the TSA stick their hands down your pants instead of passively going along with the pornoscanners. Heck, just referring to them as pornoscanners can wrankle the authoritarian punditry online. I find using plain English to describe authoritarian processes really upsets the authoritarians who spend so much energy defending the authoritarianism. Embrace alternatives to materialism and consumptionism and keeping up with the Joneses. Not in a judgmenty way, but in an active lifestyle that values stuff other than stuff. Spend some time around people not like you just to hear and see different things and be accustomed to different points of view.

        3) Keep a good humor about things. I find that laughing at the silliness is both personally rewarding and incredibly effective. The elites and their enablers need desperately to see themselves as smarter, more clever, better than the rest of us. Which makes it all the more pleasant to chuckle at how they’re just flawed humans, too.

  7. jrs

    “Note that the bill failed to attract a single Democratic co-sponsor in the House. This is not a bipartisan bill; it’s a Wyden-plus-Republicans bill, at least so far.”

    It really doesn’t matter. It’s like a person in a solid red or blue state voting their conscience (yes there’s scarcely a dimes bit of difference between the more and less effective evil, and everyone everywhere should vote their conscience), but in that situation there isn’t even a TOKEN risk, the state goes solidly exactly as predicted. And the same for the Dems who vote an agreement sure to pass if it gets R support. Maybe if anything we should work to undermine support for this bill among Republicans.

  8. Oregoncharles

    So my Senator Wyden is a turncoat, a betrayer of the public interest – for money.

    In a trust relationship like politics, it is essential that betrayal be punished, or the whole system will collapse. Granted, democracy already has, but we still have to try.

    Consequently, the Oregon Pacific Green Party has undertaken to run the strongest candidate we can find against him next year, and has begun a search for that candidate. One of our loyalists is considering it; she’s been an effective candidate, but is aparty insider with little name recognition. She would get the usual 2 – 3% our statewide candidates get, as she did last year against Merkley.

    I’m appealing to other NC readers: can you suggest potential candidates who might make a bigger impact? Personally, I’d like to take him out, but the Republicans may again collude with him by running a very weak candidate. Our requirements for nomination are that the candidate be a member of the party (registered Pacific Green) when nominated and known to us, or supported by one of our allied organizations. There’s plenty of time for that at this point

    I’ll check back here for suggestions or offers, but even better would be to communicate directly via the website, There’s a place there for messages.

    Thanks. I hope the concentrated brainpower here can make a real impact, at least on Wyden.

    1. wahunate

      Good luck. I think the non major parties will be getting those single digit percentages…until one day, they don’t.

      But realistically, while I have sensed a pretty major current of change in online discourse over the past decade or so, I’d say the bulk of the educated core of the Democratic party will continue supporting the party for a few more years.

      We have to keep those evil Republicans out of office, after all.

  9. Oregoncharles

    “As the Obama administration gives House Democrats a hard sell on a major controversial trade pact this week, it will be doing so under severe conditions: Any member of Congress who shares information with the public from a Wednesday briefing could be prosecuted for a crime.”

    That is either a flagrant lie or a Constitutional crisis. All members of Congress have constitutional immunity for ANYTHING they say on the floor of Congress, or place in the Congressional Record. For one thing, this means they, and Wyden in particular, have little excuse for not releasing -in Congress – any text they have possession of . In this case, the Administration has tried to prevent them having possession; but Wyden implied in a town hall here that he did have it – and could release it, if he had the spine. Or wasn’t utterly corrupt.

  10. Gaylord

    Hillary Clinton is a wholehearted supporter of the TPP and Fast Track Authority. Another DINO wolf in sheep’s clothing, Wall Street trojan horse presidential candidate.

  11. Kim Kaufman

    Thanks, Gaius, for breaking this down for us… once again. I just called Adam Schiff’s DC office again and got a staffer. He’s still “skeptical” but is going to wait… to read it. I said, “really? Go into a room, not be allowed to take notes, no staffers, have to read and absorb this huge bill, not be able to talk to the public or anyone abut it… and he’s waiting to see about even Fast Track? Really?” I assured her this does not make me feel warm and fuzzy towards the former Blue Dog now my congress critter due to re-districting – but if he votes for any of this stuff, I will work to replace him.

    And, on another note, will there be any penalty for Obama saying Elizabeth Warren is “wrong” on the TPP? That was very bold and risky of him and I hope there’s pushback. Maybe one of these organizations that’s working on this will at least start a petition about it. Apparently, he’s willing to spend a lot of his political capital to pass this thing and he should pay for it.

    1. different clue

      The keyest way to make him pay for real would be to prevent and kill these agreements during his term. Kill them at the Fast Track stage if possible, but don’t stop trying if defeated there.

      If he fails to get the agreements, he may not be paid the money that he would be payed as a reward for getting the agreements. No agreements, no reward. That could really hurt him emotionally.

  12. nat scientist

    Fast Tracking the dis-empowerment of the American individual is what keeps the global clinton insertion in high corporate cotton, while the good works are out-sourced to the jungle.

  13. Ruby Bell

    Don’t know about keeping a trade agreement so secret and from the public. What’s the point? Got to be something profoundly wrong with this deal if threats have to be made against people who see the contents. By this time, in 2015, we don’t trust people who start wars based on lies, and we sure as hell don’t trust corporations and their lawyers whose only concern is avoiding taxes, outsourcing their businesses and laying off workers so they can reap more profits.

    I will take Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’ word that this TPP is bad for America. Can’t believe that President Obama is refusing to allow Congress the right to debate and amend this agreement before the fast-track. How many businesses will claim that they didn’t realize their expected profits and we the taxpayers will be bailing out ‘too big to fail’ again, and no one ever goes to jail for corruption. Are we fools, cause we’ve been there, done that before. This is not the Democratic way and it’s certainly not transparency. This is going to take our country over the shit-cliff. It is wrong, wrong, wrong.

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