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7 Reasons We Don’t Want ‘Fast Track’ Trade Deals

This post originally appeared on Buzzfeed.

“Fast Track” isn’t a video game, a motor speedway or the official name of the high-speed rail project in California. In fact, “Fast Track” does not refer to anything swag at all—it’s a term that refers to international trade policy—and a very lame policy at that. Here are just a few reasons why “Fast Track” is terrible for working people.

1. ‘Fast Track’ Is Old School


And not in a good way. Old school like Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” old school. It’s a policy designed to ensure that Congress passes any and all trade deals the administration negotiates. Kind of like if your teacher had to give you an A no matter how pathetic your work actually was. It’s sort of a free pass for bad trade deals. What do I mean by “bad trade deal”? Keep reading….

2. ‘Fast Track’ Is a Job Killer


“Fast Track” has been used to pass trade deals that kill jobs for America’s workers. For example, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has resulted in 682,900 lost jobs. China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) has caused 2.7 million lost jobs. And the U.S.-Korea trade agreement has killed 40,000 jobs in its first year alone.

3. ‘Fast Track’ Will Lower Wages

“Fast Track” makes it more likely that Congress will pass trade agreements that will continue to diminish your wages. And can you really afford to have your pay go down instead of up?

4. ‘Fast Track’ Will Make Things More Unequal

“Fast Track” makes it more likely that Congress will pass trade agreements that will continue to increase inequality. Before NAFTA, the WTO and the Korean and Colombian trade agreements, the pay disparity between CEOs and average workers in the United States was more in line with the disparity in other countries. Today, it’s 354-to-1 .

5. ‘Fast Track’ Is Anti-Democratic

It limits debate and doesn’t give you, me or anyone else in the public the opportunity to effectively lobby Congress to make the trade deal better—not at the committee stage, not on the House floor, not on the Senate floor. All Congress can do is vote yes or no—and experience has shown us that in such a situation Congress will vote yes because voting no would be impolite to our trading partners. Impolite?!?!? What about our standard of living?

6. ‘Fast Track’ Gives Corporations More Power

They “who must not be named” are at it again and we’re going to need something a lot more powerful than a disarming spell. “Fast Track” makes it more likely that Congress will pass trade agreements that will include investor-to-state dispute settlement and other outrageous provisions that increase corporate rights and corporate influence over the laws you live under. Is it “we the people” or “we the corporations?”

7. ‘Fast Track’ Will Make You Sick

Like your cat when it eats too fast, the “Fast Track” bills introduced last week in the U.S. Senate and House (S. 1900/H.R. 3830) just regurgitate contents that would make you sick to your stomach, like preventing Congress from amending trade deals, no matter how bad they are.

Remember that old saying about “two brains are better than one”? (OK, maybe not when one of them is Abby Normal’s….)


So why is it a good idea to limit who can help improve bad trade policies that have failed average Americans over the past 40 years? “Fast Track” does just that, by preventing Congress from putting its heads together to try to improve whatever trade deals the administration brings them.

I know, I know. Nobody really likes or trusts Congress right now, and it’s less popular than cockroaches, traffic jams, lice and even the band Nickelback.

But I would venture to say that we all agree it’s better to make decisions about these very important economic issues publicly and democratically. After all, if Congress has little say in trade policy, neither do we. And that’s never good.

Check back on the AFL-CIO Now blog in the coming days to read more in-depth about these seven shortcomings of “Fast Track.”

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