By Robert A. Vella

A coalition of progressive-minded politicians and interests is ramping up its opposition to President Obama’s plan to fast-track the highly secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal through Congress now that supportive Republicans control both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.  This free trade agreement, like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated with Europe, is essentially a wholesale give-away to multinational corporations that circumvents the laws of sovereign states by creating super-national governing authorities.  It is NAFTA on powerful steroids, designed to weaken worker/consumer/environmental protections and further erode the American middle class through the outsourcing of jobs and the off-shoring of manufacturing operations.

International negotiations on the TPP have been shrouded in tight secrecy and the draft texts have been withheld from the public for obvious reasons.  Proponents have admitted in private that the American people would resoundingly reject it if they knew the details.  Fast-track authority would allow the President to quickly ram the bill through Congress with little-to-no debate and scrutiny.  Those on the political Left and Right who fear a corporatist, neoliberal drive towards globalism appear to be justified in their concerns about these kinds of trade agreements.

From The New York TimesDemocrats Step Up Efforts to Block Obama’s Trade Agenda:

WASHINGTON — President Obama is facing opposition from fellow Democrats to one of his top priorities: winning the power to negotiate international trade agreements and speed them through Congress.

As Mr. Obama’s team works privately to line up support for the so-called trade promotion authority, a coalition of Democratic lawmakers and activists from organized labor, environmental, religious and civil rights groups is stepping up efforts to stop him.

“Fast track would be yet another insult to the American worker,” Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, said on Thursday at a news conference on Capitol Hill, where she predicted the effort’s defeat. “It will not happen. We are not going to do it.”

Winning the authority would allow Mr. Obama to finish and gain swift approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sprawling pact that his administration has been painstakingly negotiating.

But Ms. DeLauro and other Democratic lawmakers argue that the president is asking for carte blanche to secretly negotiate a trade deal that would cost American jobs, weaken food safety and financial regulations and undermine environmental and labor standards.

From Huffington PostBernie Sanders’ Brutal Letter On Obama’s Trade Pact Foreshadows 2016 Democratic Clash:

WASHINGTON — Progressive unrest over free trade policies is shaping up to be a major issue in the contest for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, if a strongly worded letter from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to the top Obama administration trade official is any sign.

Sanders has been considering a presidential run for months. Like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another progressive favorite often mentioned as a potential 2016 contender, Sanders has been critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major U.S. pact being negotiated with 11 Pacific nations, which Sanders says will exacerbate income inequality and erode important regulations.

The letter Sanders sent on Monday to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman criticizes secrecy standards that Froman’s office imposes on the TPP talks.

“I have been very concerned that up to this date the text of this agreement has not been made public,” Sanders wrote. “The only text that I am aware of that has been made public so far has been through leaked documents, and I find what I read very troubling.

“It is incomprehensible to me that the leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP while, at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge as to what is in it,” Sanders added.

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