Action Alert — July 2, 2007

Fast Track is Dead: But We Can't Rest in Peace Just Yet
Bush Launches Final NAFTA Expansion Push Before Negotiating Authority Expires

This Independence Day, put your patriotism into practice by "bird-dogging" your congressional representatives to make sure they oppose further NAFTA expansion.
Take action!

Dear Fair Trade Supporter,

First off, here is the good news. After five years of endless NAFTA expansion deals enabled by "Fast Track" negotiating authority, George Bush's blank check trade authority terminated June 30. And, Speaker Pelosi and other Democratic leaders announced they have no intentions to give Bush more Fast Track. Hallelujah!

Okay. Now sober up for the not-so-good news.

Right before Fast Track expired, the administration released the final legal texts of four proposed NAFTA expansion pacts with Peru, Panama, Colombia and South Korea. This means they will try to use Fast Track's undemocratic procedures to try to ram these left-over, bad-news trade deals through Congress.

So, we need to kick it up a notch.

This week is the Independence Day District Work Period, and your representatives in Congress will be back in your neighborhood attending July 4th parades and BBQs. It will be the perfect opportunity to "bird-dog": that is, track down your representative and senators and make sure they oppose those left over NAFTA expansions - and Fast Track.

For tips on how to bird-dog effectively, to share news of any upcoming events, or to report on an encounter with a congressperson, click here:

What is bird-dogging?

bird-dog (bûrddôg) v.intr. To follow a subject of interest, such as a person or trend, with persistent attention.

One of the most important things that you can do for fair trade is to "bird-dog" your congressional representatives - which means following them around until they publicly addresses your concerns "on the record." The best way to do this is to attend a townhall meeting, a parade, a BBQ or some other public event where your representative and senators will be talking or participating.

Get started now! For tips and talking points, click here:

Background: Last November, Americans loudly rejected the Bush administration's more-of-the-same NAFTA expansion trade policy. President Bush had used the undemocratic Fast Track trade negotiating authority to enact NAFTA-style trade deals with Chile, Singapore, Morocco, Australia, Bahrain, Oman, the Dominican Republic and 5 Central American countries (CAFTA). The majority-making Democratic freshman class won the 2006 elections by committing to end Bush's trade war on the middle class and force new rules for a fairer global economy.

You would think that a Democratic majority on Congress would mean no more Bush NAFTA expansions could be passed. But, shockingly, on May 10th, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined the White House and congressional Democrats and Republicans in charge of trade to announce a "deal" to facilitate passage of several of those left-over Bush NAFTA expansion agreements. The announcement came without the consent - or even the prior knowledge - of the vast majority of congressional Democrats, who have been outraged at both the process and the substance of the "deal." Not one labor, environmental, consumer, faith, family farm or small business organization supports the deal.

You can read our original May 11th action alert and initial talking points on the deal here:

This "deal" was designed to facilitate passage of at least Bush's NAFTA expansions for Peru and Panama. It adds enforceable labor and environmental standards. But unfortunately, it falls far short of de-NAFTA-fying those two trade agreements by removing the bans on anti-offshoring and Buy America policies, or the outrageous foreign investor rights that facilitate offshoring and attacks on our health and environmental laws. It's a scenario where a new roof has been added to building with rotten foundations, walls and wiring.

That means we face the same Peru "free trade agreement" (FTA) that would lock in social security privatization in Peru, chill environmental protections for the Amazon basin, and keep the downward pressure on wages here in the United States!

Bush and other Republicans - and even some Democrats - are pointing to the "deal" as a path towards approval of not just the Peru and Panama NAFTA expansions (as some reporting suggested), but also similar NAFTA expansions to Colombia and South Korea, and even more Fast Track trade negotiating authority for President Bush!

Happily, Speaker Pelosi and other Democratic House leaders have said they oppose the Colombia and Korea deals and have no intention of giving Bush new Fast Track. But… if the Peru and Panama deals are allowed to pass by wide margins, the other NAFTA expansions and Fast Track would be given a new lease on life. Every K Street lobbyist, CAFTA-15 Democrat and Bush administration official will take it as the sign to launch a huge push - which would send us right back to square one.

Your members of Congress will be home every weekend from now through the end of July, and the entire month of August. Don't let this time go to waste! We've made huge progress in the nearly 15 years since the unfortunate passage of NAFTA. We can't afford to let the newly empowered Democrats lose touch with the key issue that put them in office in the first place.

Practice real patriotism by bird-dogging your representatives and senators. To get started, click here:

Yours in solidarity,

The Global Trade Watch Team

p.s. If you haven't signed our petition yet about the outrageous social security privatization provision in the proposed Peru "free trade" agreement, please do so now - and send it to all of your family and friends! You can sign the petition here:

Fast Track Obituary: June 30, 2007
(featured post at Eyes On Trade blog)

Lori Wallach: Long Overdue, Fast Track Finally Passes into History; Millions of Those Harmed by Fast Track-Enabled Trade Deals Celebrate

OBITUARIES: Fast Track 1974-1995/2002-2007

After a brief, damaging existence, Fast Track was pronounced dead on June 30, 2007.

The demise of Fast Track allowed the U.S. Founding Fathers to stop rolling in their graves over Fast Track's trampling of constitutional checks and balances. As well, victims of Fast Track-enabled trade agreements welcomed the news, given the anomalous procedure's record of damage despite having been locked up and out of commission for blocks of time since its inception.

In April 1973, America first saw the faint glimmer in Father Nixon's eye that was to become Fast Track when the Nixon administration - always eager to seize power from the legislative branch - dropped the initial Fast Track legislation. The young Fast Track - the product of a broken and abusive home - had an unusually long gestation period, taking over a year and a half to be unleashed by President Ford, who signed the first Fast Track bill into law. Fast Track teethed on federalism and checks and balances, shredding basic tenets of our democracy.

Fast Track delegated away Congress' exclusive constitutional authority over trade - allowing the executive branch alone to choose trading partners, set the substantive terms of trade policy, and even sign trade agreements, all before Congress ever voted. The controversial delegation mechanism allowed Congress only a yes or no vote on trade agreements after they had been negotiated and signed and by its very design shut out public and congressional oversight.

Unleashed again in 1988, the troubled Fast Track became a violent adult with a pathological disregard for the middle class, family farmers and the environment. After enabling the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993 and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994, Fast Track found itself friendless when in 1995 its 1988-granted parole ended.

In 1998, members of Congress explicitly voted to keep Fast Track locked away as the policy and political damage of the Fast Track-enabled NAFTA and WTO began to come home to roost. For only two years of the eight-year, 130-trade-agreement Clinton administration was Fast Track out and about. The facts of President Clinton being able to pass several controversial, major multilateral WTO agreements and the Jordan Free Trade Agreement and China PNTR without Fast Track does not in any way diminish the claim that it is impossible to do trade agreements without Fast Track, said Gucci Loafers, a major K Street lobbyist.

In 2002, after Fast Track had been kept locked up for a quarter of its 27 years, another power-grabbing president, George W. Bush, struggled through a two-year, arm-breaking-for-votes campaign that featured a one-vote margin that unleashed Fast Track one last time.

Fast Track's lifelong philosophy was, "Just trust the president." Even after being kept in chains for much of its existence, Fast Track's legacy includes millions of peasant farmers who have been displaced by fast-tracked trade deals, workers whose wages have remained stagnant since Fast Track's hatching in the mid-70's, millions of Americans made ill by fast-tracked trade deals that required food imports not meeting U.S. safety standards, the evisceration of the U.S. manufacturing base, and much more damage. Many Americans celebrated Fast Track's long overdue demise and joined a national day of prayer for a better procedure that in the future could replace Fast Track to ensure trade agreements would benefit the majority.

Those deeply connected to Fast Track, including President Bush and representatives of the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Chamber of Commerce, Pharma and other corporate lobbies, gathered at board meetings and campaign fundraisers to mourn their loss.

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