On Trade, WikiLeaks Reveals What White House Wouldn’t: the Plan to Undermine American Workers

Published on July 7th, 2015

In a shameful, unprecedented rejection of the voters who elected them, congressional Republicans fell all over themselves last week to pass fast-track Obamatrade that will greatly affect the U.S economy and put American jobs at risk. These are the same Republicans, led by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, who vowed last November to fight Obama’s executive overreach. Yet the majority party partnered with the president and enough Democrats to allow him to unilaterally rush through trade agreements that will be decided on a straight up or down vote without congressional amendments or debate.

By giving the Obama administration trade authority, Republicans also are granting him the immigration increases the president has so long coveted. Despite pleas from the Republican base, and from labor leaders who worried about large scale American job loss, GOP leadership rammed trade through.

Sen. Sherwood Brown (D-Ohio) predicted that the trade bill is so favorable to big business it would set off “a day of celebration in the corporate suites.”  Preliminary indications are that Brown is right.

Seattle TPP Protest
Seattle TPP Protest

One of the treaties the Obama administration is negotiating is the Trade in Services Agreement that had been kept a deep, dark secret until WikiLeaks paid insiders to find out what’s in it. Dozens of occupations, many of them paying a middle-class wage, will be vulnerable to foreign-born workers: engineers, veterinarians, construction workers, travel/tourism industry workers and many more. Congress may no longer have the final say on guest worker programs. The responsibility would shift to the trade regulators whose job it is to facilitate the free movement of people.

The trade deal leaves two lingering questions. First, how could the recently elected Republican majority have such disdain for the voters who put them in office? Second, and perhaps more worrisome, is why did trade details have to be withheld from the public?

As Rosa Pavanelli, Public Services International Union general secretary, said, “It is outrageous that our democratically elected governments will not tell us the laws they are making. What has our democracy come to when the community must rely on WikiLeaks to find out what our governments are doing on our behalf?”

Pavanelli, whose organization represents 20 million public service workers in 150 countries, didn’t provide an answer, perhaps because the response is too obvious. Government deals made in secret, whether they be trade or immigration, are certain to hurt American workers.

When the disastrous North American Free Trade Agreement was negotiated in 1992, the secrecy level was so high that the participants referred to themselves as the Watergate 300. More than 20 years later after NAFTA started in 1994, analysts agree that NAFTA cost Americans at least 1 million jobs and that the participating corporation boldly lied when they promised that it would create higher employment.

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