Uphold sovereignty, reject 'Fast Track'

Alaskans have a tradition of upholding our sovereignty, at least in our rhetoric. Sovereignty deserves to be protected and is essential to our freedom when it is understood, not as a reason for Alaskan fed-bashing or belligerence with our neighbors, but as a necessary element in representative government. When our sovereignty is surrendered by our elected representatives, they are left with less scope to act on our behalf. Yet, soon after Congress is back in session after the holidays, it will be asked to yield large chunks of our federal, state, and local sovereignty to corporations. It will be asked to grant “Fast Track” authority for the US Trade Representative to negotiate and sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), even though the TPP contains this clause: “Each country shall ensure conformity of its own domestic laws with the 24 chapters of the agreement.” The domestic laws this would apply to include banking regulations, food safety standards, energy policy, medicine patents, environmental protections, government procurement, and more, at every government level. In fact, while its proponents refer to the TPP as a trade deal, only five of its 29 chapters deal with trade issues. But if Congress approves “Fast Track,” it will have surrendered its ability to amend or reject any provisions that an aware public would object to; Congress would then have to vote on the whole package once it is signed by the twelve negotiating countries, take it or leave it.

Why would Congress pass such a measure? It will be sold as a “jobs” bill. “Fast Track” will be referred to by the friendlier term, “trade promotion authority.” The many provisions that would make our domestic laws subservient will be called “investment protection provisions.” And, unless Congress insists on its right to examine the whole TPP draft, much of it will remain confidential until finalized by the twelve countries’ trade representatives and the representatives of large corporate interests.

Alaska’s representatives should lead Congress in upholding our sovereignty and rejecting “Fast Track.”

John Dunker

Juneau

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