Merkley Statement on Senate Passage of “Fast Track”
WASHINGTON, DC — Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed “fast track” trade legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other future trade deals:
“When crafting a new trade structure, our national objective should be raising wages and living standards for middle-class Americans. Past trade deals have consistently failed to live up to their promises and made it harder for working Americans to get ahead. Unfortunately, the fast track bill passed by the Senate today does not change that fundamental structure – a structure which has led so many past trade deals to create job losses and falling wages for working Americans.
“Many Americans understand that competing for jobs with workers earning rock-bottom wages in other countries hurts them and hurts our economy. That’s why I pressed to use this opportunity to make sure that future agreements truly have meaningful, rising labor and environmental standards, and that they’re able to be enforced. Despite the hard work of many on both sides of this debate, this trade framework ultimately does not achieve enforceable standards on critical issues like minimum wages, currency manipulation, environmental standards, and labor standards. Thus, while some industries may benefit from this framework, new trade deals under this structure will hurt American workers. That’s why I voted ‘no’ on fast track today.”
Meanwhile, Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon’s other Democratic U.S. Senator, has not issued a news release on how he voted for the much criticized legislation. He voted for it. He and a few other senators have begun to re-describe the debate in terms of the U.S. vs. China in world trade. Wyden has accused China of changing the rules on international trade that would put the U.S. in the back seat of the world economy. To be sure, China offers far more favorable trade rules than what is offered by the West, especially the U.S. The West has a financial system based on private enterprise – profit maximization, higher loan rates and almost always higher prices. China operates on a public banking system that offers loans to its own entrepreneurs and farmers at much lower rates because when a government prints its own currency it can loan at lower interest rates because there are no middlemen – or at least far fewer of them.
Forty years ago the U.S. and the rest of the West traded mainly with each other. But with the rise of China and many other Asian countries, it’s upset the international apple cart. In the past, the U.S. wouldn’t trade with slave wage, environmentally destructive countries that abused their own people and their own natural resources. Today, Sen. Wyden contends the Trans Pacific Partnership Act mandates that those abuses end. But the treaty doesn’t force them to comply. What will happen if American workers are knocked out of the driver’s seat by low wages and other shortcuts typical of our “new” trading partners? According to many reports, when American workers see their jobs go overseas they’ll be “compensated” for their loss by getting payments from either the offending foreign nations or domestic payments from the U.S. Government. The source of those funds have thus far ranged from “nobody knows” to “Medicare surpluses.” And what’s worse, those decisions may be made by courts based in other countries. Again, secrecy…like we’ve never seen it before in the history of this nation.
Again, it’s East vs West trade wars with the West trying to blunt China’s rapid rise in world prominence by using its publicly-based financial system, rather than one run by a financial elite spread between the U.S and Europe.
Fasten your seat belts.