It's not everyday you find a Wall Street leader who is willing to tell the truth about the failures of America's lobbyist-written trade policy. That's why I was thrilled to co-write this new San Francisco Chronicle op-ed with Wall Street leader Leo Hindery that demands Democrats reject President Bush's request to reauthorize "fast track" trade negotiating authority. Such authority has allowed Bush and presidents before him to ram trade deals through Congress without basic labor, human rights and environmental standards.
A New York Times story shows exactly why we wrote that op-ed. In an article about a new report showing the trade deficit increasing, the Times reports:
"The Democratic response from the House was notable, however, for its basic embrace of the principle of negotiating trade deals and its openness to renewing the president's negotiating authority, which is known as fast track because of the provision allowing for one up-or-down vote. A much tougher stance was taken by consumer, environmental and labor groups. They called on Congress to let the president's negotiating authority expire and to reject the various pending trade deals and the philosophy of free trade that led to past accords like the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta, with Mexico and Canada...Since arriving in January, several Democratic leaders have gone out of their way to say that they would be receptive to approving trade deals, and to giving Mr. Bush extended authority to negotiate them."
Apparently, all it takes is four months for congressional Democrats to forget that most of lawmakers who provided the margin of their majority were elected by running against our current "free" trade policies that fast track helps. And apparently, some Democrats are willing to reauthorize fast track even as the White House is simultaneously threatening to veto legislation protecting basic union rights here at home. The one-two punch of fast track reauthorization and a veto of the Employee Free Choice Act truly would be a kick in the middle class's face.
This battle is just beginning - and you can bet it's going to be an intense one. Check out the op-ed, and then check out Citizens Trade Campaign to see how you can get involved in this fight.