Anti-Democracy "Fast Track" Should Be Defeated
Once again, U.S. federal legislators are considering a bill referred to as "Fast Track" that would give an unlimited amount of decision-making power to the President when participating in so-called free trade talks. This bill, if passed, will give Bush the power to negotiate trade agreements and then bring them back to Congress to be voted upon within a limited period of time, using only an up-or-down vote with no amendments allowed.
Fast Track is fiercely undemocratic, and if passed, it will allow the so-called "free" trade agenda to be pushed though Congress with few or no barriers. There are no provisions for labor or environmental standards in the Fast Track bill currently before the House of Representatives.
Sources are now saying that, most likely, there will be a vote on Fast Track before Congress' August recess. Now is the time to take action to defeat Fast Track. Grassroots activists united across the United States in 1997 to beat Fast Track once. We can do it again!
Call your member of Congress to demand a "NO" vote on Fast Track. Your Members of Congress will be home for Congressional recess the week of July 1-7, attending community Independence Day celebrations, meeting with constituents, and holding open office hours to listen to your concerns. Tell your Representative to declare Congress' independence from anti-democratic corporate-managed special-privileged global-monopolized trade!
If you can't find your Representative in person, the telephone. Talking to your Representative or his or her staff on the phone is the next best thing to being there in person. Ask to talk to the staff person in charge of trade issues, and be sure to ask for a written response to your call -- that way your opinion is "tallied."
"Fast Track" is a method of making trade policy. It was cooked up by former President Richard Nixon. Here are the rights that the U.S. Congress -- and U.S. voters -- lose under Fast Track:
* The President gets the ability not just to negotiate trade deals with other countries, but to sign the U.S. on to them before Congress ever votes on them.Now Bush claims that he must have Fast Track authority in order to negotiate new trade deals, especially to complete the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which is based on NAFTA. Although the Bush administration is trying to make Fast Track sound better by calling it "trade promotion authority," the administration has not proposed fixing any of the problems with previous Fast Track proposals.
* When Congress finally gets to see the finished agreement, debate about the pros and cons of the deal -- critical to an informed decision -- is strictly limited.
* Congress is not allowed to amend the agreement. They must take an up or down vote, which means that they can be forced to choose between a bad deal or no deal at all, instead of seeking a compromise that could benefit everyone.
The U.S. has successfully completed hundreds of trade agreements without Fast Track. So why have it?
Information on this issue comes from the Campaign for Labor Rights. Their WWW site is at www.summersault.com/~agj/clr
What's your opinion? Why does so-called "free trade" seem to be associated with anti-democracy policies? Tell your views to The Progress Report:
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