Dear Senator Feinstein (re “Fast Track”, TPP, etc.)

The following is the text of a note I just sent to Dianne Feinstein, my US Senator, via the Senator’s “e-mail” comment form. For what it’s worth, you can read it too. I’ve edited out some embarrassing typos.

Dear Senator Feinstein,

As a constituent, I felt betrayed by your vote in favor of 3-6 year, no-supermajority “fast track” for TPP and other trade-related deals negotiated by the executive branch. On procedural grounds, “fast-tracks” should always be supermajoritarian. The usual checks and balances that block or at least shave the edges off of bad law are not present under a straight up-or-down vote on an externally prepared text. To counterbalance that, any fast track should require a much stronger consensus than 50% plus 1 vote. 50-50 fast tracks are just bad political engineering.

On substantive grounds, given what that has been released about TPP, TTIP, and TISA, you should frankly be ashamed to have once endorsed a procedure that realistically makes their passage extremely likely. “Free trade” in the abstract is a good thing, and there are many trade deals I would support. Maximalist intellectual property law and “elimination of nontrade barriers” that in practice means submitting democratic choices about governance to review of unelected corporate arbitration panels are not free trade at all. They are harbingers of the sort of post-democracy that we see operating already in the European Union. They are instruments of plutocracy.

The most cynical argument in favor of these trade deals is the geopolitical argument. “If we don’t write the rules, then China will!” If we don’t write good rules, then maybe China should. The United States should wield global authority not merely because it is our team. The United States should wield global authority because it exercises that authority for the good. Not for the good of well-connected interest groups within the United States, not even just for the good of US and its citizens, but, if we are to exercise global authority, for the world. From the bits that ordinary citizens have been able to learn about the contents of the various deals under negotiation by USTR, we have fallen down badly on the job. Good for well connected interest groups, foreign and domestic? Check. Good for US citizens or the world broadly, no.

I urge you not to betray me and the vast majority of your constituents once again with a vote in favor of fast-track without the “sweetener” of trade adjustment assistance. TAA is a nice idea, but in practice it has never remotely been effective at ameliorating the sometimes troubling distributional effects of trade deals, and would not in this instance either. Still, it is at least a token.

Please undo your first misbegotten endorsement of “fast track” by voting “no” on the mulligan that has been arranged in the Senate after so many of us worked so hard to halt this terrible train in the House. Unbetray us.

Many thanks,
      Steve Randy Waldman


7 Responses to “Dear Senator Feinstein (re “Fast Track”, TPP, etc.)”

  1. athEIst writes:

    They are instruments of plutocracy.
    If you check I think you will find Ms. Feinstein(Mrs. Blum)is a, dare I say it, plutocrat.

  2. Brett writes:

    I actually don’t oppose the ISDS process entirely. There’s a seed of something there that could be used by progressive groups, namely the entire of enforceable standards that can be fought through arbitration like with existing ISDS. Imagine the ILO or AFL-CIO bringing suit against Bangladesh alongside local Bangladeshi trade unions for the country’s refusal to enforce their own labor laws.

  3. CynDoyle writes:

    The TPP is a very dangerous treaty for us the citizens of the countries who sign! It is really the corporate takeover of the United States of America!

    Here’s the TPP in a nutshell (the leaked parts of it)

    1. Offshore American jobs and increase income inequality

    2. Jack up the cost of medicines

    3. Sneak in SOPA-like threats to Internet freedom

    4. Empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards

    5. Expose the U.S. to unsafe food and products

    6. Roll back Wall Street reforms

    7. Ban Buy American policies needed to create green jobs

    Sound good to you?

    The TPP has 29 chapters of which only 5 deal with trade. The other 24 chapters are corporate giveaways and theft of freedoms for us, the citizens. There is mush more to it than what I have enumerated. Scary, isn’t it?
    Stop the Fast Track and Stop the TPP!

    Stop Fast Track! Stop the TPP!

    The TPP will take our sovereignty and give it to the multinationals. World trade is one thing, but this is giving them power over our USA (over all of us)! How would you like Monsanto directing our dietary laws? Or Nestle rationing our water? Or no minimum wage at all because it would harm a corporation’s expected profits? Or controlling our access to the internet in a most restrictive way? The high court of the land would no longer be the Supreme Court. It would be a tribunal consisting of corporate lawyers. Who do you think would always win at that tribunal?
    Call your Senators tomorrow am. Please call all the way up until they vote
    Just tell them to vote “NO” on Fast Track for TPP or you will not vote for them.

  4. CynDoyle writes:

    Here is what I wrote to Senator Bill Nelson:
    Here is my letter to our traitor Senator from Florida:

    Senator Nelson,
    We have called you and emailed you to tell you that your constituents want you to vote against Fast Track, but you have deaf ears when it comes to us. Are the corporations speaking louder with their money?
    Just be aware that if you vote for TPA, soon people will be addressing you as Mr. Nelson, NOT Senator Nelson!
    We have quite a few people (REAL Americans) who are standing in line to run against you. Be assured that you will NOT win a re-election if you don’t vote NO for the TPA!
    My regard for you has diminished, and I have been a staunch supporter in the past.
    Cynthia Doyle (One of your bosses)

  5. hunkerdown writes:

    @4 CynDoyle

    As much as you might think to the contrary, “Retiring them to K Street” is not a punishment. I wonder whether it would be worthwhile to keep them there, in place, and make their lives hell to the limits of the law. As for Leona Feinstein, may she never be able to look at the sky and not see the drone following her to the ends of the earth.

  6. financewhiz writes:

    Trade deals are difficult to evalate. It will be interesting to see what happens. Good post overall.

  7. rsj writes:

    This is very eloquent and on point.