Jan 23, 2014
MSNBC Host Ed Schultz devoted his entire program to the need to stop "fast track" and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. You can watch the entire town hall with members of Congress, all of whom stand with CWA in opposing "fast track." Watch the two segments here and here.
Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America, injected a refreshing dose of reality to the proceedings. Cutting through blather about "leveling the playing field," Cohen looked Baucus in the eye and demanded answers to a few pointed questions.
After 20 years of NAFTA, Cohen demanded, when are we going to start to actually measure the results? "No other nation has trade deficits like ours," said Cohen. Since 1993, the year before NAFTA, our trade deficit in goods was $132 billion or 1.9 percent of GDP. By 2012, our trade deficit ballooned to $741 billion or 4.6 percent of GDP, Cohen detailed in his written testimony.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) turned the conversation at the Fast Track hearing in a completely new direction by asking David Cote if he thought trade agreements should be used to attack consumer and environmental laws democratically enacted around the globe. Brown referenced the so-called "investor-state" provisions that have been included in U.S. trade agreements that allow corporations to directly sue governments for cash damages outside of domestic court systems and in friendly trade tribunals if they believe consumer, health, or environmental regulations harm their products.
Brown pointed to a new case in Australia, where U.S. firm Phillip Morris is suing Australia over a new plain packaging rule for cigarettes designed to reduce cigarette smoking among teens and other new users. Phillip Morris battled the rule in Australian courts and lost, so is taking it to a corporate-friendly trade tribunal. The rulings of these tribunals are binding, and there is no appeal.
And read a transcript of Cohen's full testimony here.