Letter to Congress: NO on Fast Track

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Here’s a letter the Northeast Ohio AFSC sent today to U.S. Reps David Joyce and Jim Renacci urging them to vote NO on Fast Track. The vote is tomorrow (Friday). If you haven’t done so yet, please contact your Congressperson. If you have done so, thank you! Please do so again.

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The Northeast Ohio AFSC, representing 1500 supporters across the region, respectfully urges you to vote NO on any Fast Track legislation that would increase the likelihood of any vote on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), or any any other international agreement.

Fast Track is antidemocratic. It handcuffs your Congressional constitutional power and authority to “check and balance” the power and authority of the Executive branch by limiting your ability to review, discuss, debate and amend any international agreement. Why would any Congressperson, entrusted to represent We the People, willingly relinquish this power and authority to unelected corporate representatives, thus weakening democracy itself? History has shown that freedoms lost are quite costly and difficult to recover.

Fast Track is simply not needed as a prerequisite for a Congressional vote on the TPP, TTIP, TISA or any other international agreement. The fact that the administration so desperately wants and needs Fast Track is telling. It sends a crystal clear message to the American public that these super secret misnamed “trade” agreements developed with the consultation of hundreds of transnational corporations are harmful to workers, consumers, communities, the environment and democracy itself. It indicates that these agreements, which are actually mostly about gutting democratically enacted laws and regulations, cannot pass on their own if the public, media and Congress have a legitimate opportunity to research, understand, discuss and communicate their views on these secret negotiations . Virtually everything the public and media know about these proposed agreements is only due to leaked documents, which include provisions in the case of the TPP an investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) process creating unaccountable and pro-corporate “tribunals” with the power to overrule national laws and regulations passed by legislatures and/or upheld by courts.

Fast Track is a gift to transnational corporations. It’s an affirmation that negotiating secret international agreements (to the public that is, but not transnational corporations) than harm workers, consumers and the environment are legitimate. And it’s an exponentially further decline in the ability of citizens to govern themselves — citizens who already feel their political voices are not being heard by politicians who respond to the interests of corporate entities and the super rich.

Fast Track is not ultimately about Democrats vs Republicans, “free” trade vs “fair” trade, or protecting jobs vs expanding growth. These are secondary concerns, if not outright distractions. The core concern underlying each of these proposals is the right to political self-determination, to democracy itself. If you feel citizens and their elected representative, not corporate entities, should possess the fundamental right to determine the laws, statutes and regulations in our municipalities, states and nation itself, then you will vote NO on Fast Track.

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