I sent this as the letter accompaniment to the following moveon.org petition being sent to Congress about voting "No" on Fast-Track.
I'm not going to write here on the basis of stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I am drastically opposed to the TPP; as it is not yet being voted on though I will discuss what was newly introduced to Congress, on Thursday January 9th, 2014.
The bill for Fast-Track and how it affects congress.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) have introduced the bill in an attempt to create the veneer that Fast-Track is bi-partisan in nature.
Fast-Track may be many things but it is far from bi-partisan. A better way to describe it would be anti-partisan. I say anti-partisan because the nature of the word "partisan" contains the suggestion that there is support from a person, group or party being given for something. While the bill has been sponsored by at least one individual from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle it is frightening to think any congressman could support it.
It's frightening because for a Congressperson to support Fast-Track is a very similar concept to the idea of a Congressperson supporting legislation which takes away his/her position of power, influence and effect as a legislator. It's no secret Congress has a dirt-poor approval rating right now. It's also no secret many probably think those in Congress should not have the power they do, or rather they don't deserve it. As such, to some, the idea of a Congressperson having power, influence, and effect may not sound very appealing in general. Nevertheless, I believe issue of members of Congress having power is not the problem but rather the way they wield that position of power, influence and effect is.
Simply put if we're going to discuss how a Congressperson wields his/her position it would not seem a good strategy for him/her to relinquish it voluntarily. Even more absurd is the idea of a Congressperson relinquishing their position voluntarily not by resigning, but rather by signing a bill into law which effectively strips themselves of their power.
This is what Fast-Track will do. Unless I am mistaken once Fast-Track is signed into law by congress it will strip the Congressperson of his/her ability to change the contents of any legislation presented with Fast-Track rules. Furthermore, the Congressperson will only have 90 days to review the bill before being allowed nothing more than a vote for it, or against, under Fast-Track rules.
The idea of a Congressperson voting to allow Fast-Track to go into effect is absolutely absurd (let alone the absurdity of the existence of something like Fast-Track in a country like the United States which prides itself on its representative nature).
As if that were not sufficiently absurd; the reason for Fast-Track's necessity is even more mind-boggling. Fast-Track is being utilized to pass another law called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This second law adds insult to injury. Not in the sense that TPP would engulf 40% of the global economy in a set of rules which would benefit only the wealthiest of corporations and banks; but also because TPP has also been negotiated behind closed-doors and in complete secret from even those members of Congress who would eventually be voting on the law.
So in addition to a set of rules which permit only a limited amount of time to look at a particular law, restrict any changes to said law and only permit for a vote of "yay" or "nay" on that law… Congress has not even been allowed to see the law they will eventually vote on.
How big is this mystery law, though?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will have 29 chapters to it and it has been called a free-trade agreement. More idiosyncrasy rears its head now as, of the 29 chapters in this so-called free-trade agreement, only 5 chapters of the agreement actually deal with trade. There are environmental issues which will be effected by TPP; there are intellectual property issues which will be effected by TPP (SOPA is incorporated into it and it uses a clause called "ever-greening" to restrict access to generic medications); there are GMO labeling issues being addressed in it as well (namely, restrictions on labeling); hell, it even deals with immigration in some ways.
We're dealing with a free-trade agreement which somehow affects environmental, intellectual property, GMO labeling, immigration, and other issues! It deals with all these things and no one (not even the members of Congress!) has been allowed to see the legislation? Well wait, there was one; Representative Alan Grayson, who made a stink about its secrecy. Problem is; when he saw it he was not allowed to take notes on it, he had a limited amount of time to look at it, and he couldn't talk about it to anyone afterward. All he was allowed to say was that the Trans-Pacific Partnership was a punch in the face to the middle-class. A punch in the face of America's middle-class, and it also affects 40% of the global economy in general.
Yeah, this sounds great. I'm not surprised the undemocratic Fast-Track is being used to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I'd be surprised if the TPP would ever even have a chance at passage the conventional way.
Oh, one more thing: Yes, TPP has been negotiated in complete secret from the public and members of congress who will vote on it; but who has seen it? Well, definitely the heads of the 11 other countries involved in it but also, about 600 corporate advisers from the largest corporations in the world; Monsanto, WalMart, Halliburton, other big oil, and many many more.
So yeah, it would seem to me that for a Congressperson to vote "yay" on Fast-Track would be a bad idea. Not only because it's a precursor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but also because a simple “yes” vote on Fast-Track is like saying:
"Yes, I want to keep my position in elected office but I now, officially and on the record, want to have a law in effect which revokes the power, influence, and effect I was granted when the public sent me here via election. Yes, that sounds like a great idea!"
Vote "No" on Fast-Track!