By Karly Edwards
Working families across Oregon and throughout America share some common goals. We want to protect advances
in worker health and safety, environmental protection and tackle major issues like low wages and economic inequality.
The looming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement threatens to move every one of those priorities in the
Because of his seniority on the Senate Finance Committee,
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden has a pivotal role in determining
the future of the TPP. Recently, Wyden said that he has a
responsibility to ensure that trade pacts such as the TPP
"will work for America's middle class."
Given what we know of the trade pact,
Wyden's stated concern for the middle
class should make him a skeptic, if not
an adamant opponent, of the TPP.
We remain hopeful that Wyden will not
seek to advance the TPP via "fast track"
trade authority status.
"Fast track" authorization would strip Congress of its
constitutional responsibility to approve trade agreements
and instead leave our congressional representatives with
a "take it or leave it" stamp of approval for whatever
version of the TPP is negotiated by global trade
representatives and their corporate allies.
"Fast track" status would mean that Congress
wouldn't be able to amend in any way the version
negotiators drop in their lap.
Given its secrecy, size and potential damage
to working families' priorities, the TPP and
the "fast track" debate is a key issue for the
Oregon Working Families Party. Will Wyden
join fellow Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley as a
true champion for working families in
opposing "fast track"? Or will Wyden side
with those who prioritize multinational
profits at all costs while turning a blind
eye to the lessons of failed past trade deals?
The TPP would be the largest trade agreement
in U.S. history, encompassing 12 nations that
together comprise nearly 40 percent of all
global economic activity. The TPP is both
massive and shrouded in secrecy -- inherently
a dangerous combination. While hundreds of corporate lobbyists have had unfettered access to the TPP negotiating
text, working class champions in and out of Congress have been largely shut out. Members of Congress are severely
restricted from accessing the text and are unable to take notes or even have staff members accompany them
to review the details.
Given this lack of transparency, why would Congress authorize "fast track?"
Shouldn't they demand time to actually examine and debate the contents in a public and accountable manner?
Many of the details we do know about the TPP have come through leaks of the negotiating text,
rather than transparent disclosures. The American people deserve more details about the TPP,
not a request from corporate lobbyists to "trust us" on another trade deal. Rather than authorizing
"fast track" status, ceding his and our other representatives' ability to examine and improve the TPP,
Wyden should stand up and fight for Oregon's hard working families.
Karly Edwards is state director of the Oregon Working Families Party.