From Arthur Stamoulis of Fair Trade Campaign.
President Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership during his recent State of the Union address, saying that it will “boost American exports, support American jobs and level the playing field.” With that as the major public justification for the TPP, we need to arm ourselves with facts about the legacy of recent U.S. trade policy. Important talking points include that:
If you take oil out of the equation, the U.S. trade deficit in goods increased by six percent in 2012 to $628 billion. That’s the largest non-oil U.S. trade deficit since the financial crisis, and a clear sign that U.S. trade policy is not working as it should.
Nine months into the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement — the largest trade pact passed to date during the Obama presidency — exports to South Korea have dropped by 10 percent. This was a deal that had been promoted as job-creating, when in actuality it has led to further increase in the deficit and a net loss of U.S. jobs.
The overall track record for U.S. trade policy in recent decades further points to the need for change. The aggregate trade deficit with all U.S. FTA partners has increased by more that $144 billion since the FTAs were implemented.
To prevent more-of-the-same under the TPP, only a more-grandiose and more-damaging scale, we need Members of Congress to assert their constitutional trade policymaking authority and intervene in the negotiations. They absolutely must not approve “Fast Track” for the TPP. Here are some critical immediate steps for sending that message.
TOP PRIORITY: Organizational Sign-on Letter to Congress
Citizens Trade Campaign is currently soliciting organizations to join a letter to Congress on the TPP, US-EU Free Trade Agreement and Fast Track. This is an extremely important response to a push on the Hill by the Chamber of Commerce and others for Congress to pass Fast Track legislation for the TPP and other trade pacts. Please sign on any organization you have the authority to add, and please urge organizations you are affiliated with to join. The deadline is Sunday, March 3 — just prior to the Singapore Round of TPP negotiations. Instructions for how to join are included in the link above, or by writing to email@example.com.
Current signers include Americans for Democratic Action, American Medical Student Association, Communications Workers of America, Friends of the Earth, Global Exchange, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Association of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, It’s Our Economy, National Farmers Union, National Family Farm Coalition, Progressive Democrats of America, Public Citizen, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, United Steelworkers, Witness for Peace and many others. We need your local, state and national groups on as well!
Organizational Meetings with Member of Congress
Those who represent organizations should please contact Citizens Trade Campaign now at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are willing to arrange a meeting with your Member of Congress for the upcoming spring Congressional recess in late March and early April (or any other time). We can provide talking points and timely asks, and potentially connect you with others in your area who may want to join you.
Online Action for Individuals (which Groups Can Also Promote!)
Individuals are encouraged to write to their Members of Congress about the TPP and Fast Track through this online action alert. Please also post the alert on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Over 2,000 messages have been sent to Congress since the State of the Union, and want to make sure that every Member of Congress is hearing from multiple constituents about it.
Individuals can further voice their opinions about the TPP by writing a Letter to the Editor of their local newspaper using this online tool. A sample letter is provided, but the more you can personalize and localize your letter, the more likely it is to be published. Here’s one example of a letter that was published, provoking lots of positive responses in the paper’s comments section.
TPP Bird-Dogging Action Team
We need volunteers in every Congressional district throughout the country who are willing to keep an eye out for Town Halls and other public events held by U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators. Please take a moment now to visit your Member of Congress’ websites and sign up for their email lists, so that you’re receiving invitations to their constituent events. Once you’ve done so, please let us know at by filling out the TPP Bird-Dogging Action Team sign-up form.
When you hear about an upcoming Town Hall or public event with your Members of Congress, please let us know at email@example.com. Whenever possible, please attend the event yourself and ask a pointed question like:
“I am angry that U.S. trade negotiators have refused to tell the American public what they’ve been proposing in our names for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while simultaneously giving hundreds of corporate lobbyists, including those from Walmart, Chevron and Cargill, access to the negotiating texts. We can’t afford for the TPP to become another back-room deal the enriches big corporations at the expense of working people. Will you commit to opposing Fast Track authority for the TPP?”
Please report back what the Representative or Senator says at firstname.lastname@example.org — and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you want background on the Member’s past trade positions or if you need help crafting a Member-specific question or comment.
A new TPP negotiating round has been added for the month of July in Canada. Details are still forthcoming. (more…)