On Tuesday, September 24, as part of the Stop Fast Track Action Camp, activists took the TPP Express for an accountability tour through Washington, DC. The message was that we don’t want to Fast Track this train wreck.
The train which was created over the previous 72 hours under the supervision of artistic director Mike Barczynski and Backbone Campaign director Bill Moyer (with help from a real train engineer Steve Chrismer and many volunteers who worked late into the nights) was assembled in front of the White House.
President Obama (played by Tighe Barry) drove the out-of-control train.
The tour began at the White House. This is where President Obama decided to start negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after campaigning on re-negotiating NAFTA so that it would be more fair and protect workers. Negotiations have proceeded under his direction and in secret for more than three years. In addition to making the text of the agreement classified (which is unprecedented for trade agreements), the President has asked for Congress to grant him Fast Track so that he can sign the TPP without Congressional oversight (they would get a rushed up or down vote after the President signs it).
Next the crazy train careened through the streets to the office of the US Trade Representative which organizes the negotiations under the direction of the President. Marchers called to the employees in the USTR office to do the right thing and release the text so the public will know what is being done and can examine how it will affect them. Leaked text and industry reports have given enough of a glimpse into the TPP to know that it threatens national sovereignty, food safety, health, jobs, worker rights, the economy, the environment, internet freedom and more. The TPP will allow corporations to sue nations if their laws that protect consumers, workers and the environment interfere with expected profits. This will change laws without public input down to the local level.
The train circled the USTR office and whipped by the World Bank and the InterMonetary Fund, two places where neo-liberal economic policies like those in the TPP have been forced on many countries with devastating effects as important public programs were dismantled and replaced by privatized services that do not serve everyone who needs them.
The train stopped briefly at the US Chamber of Commerce to acknowledge that this is where many of the 600 corporate advisers who are writing the TPP (they have free access to the text of the agreement on their computers while members of Congress have very restricted access) are members. The Chamber is pushing hard for provisions that will protect corporate profits.
Next, the train zigzagged down 15th Street and zipped onto Pennsylvania Ave on its Fast Track to the Capitol. It passed the Environmental Protection Agency which won’t be necessary any longer if the TPP passes because corporations will be allowed to undermine environmental protection laws.
As the train sped up on its approach to Congress, it was fortunately stopped from reaching its final destination by a line of police with their cars and motorcycles. The marchers cheered as the police stood on the side of the people by not allowing this train wreck to reach Congress. We hope they will continue to protect the people rather than corporate profits (which hurt the police too).
The train slowed to a stop in front of the reflecting pool where the exhausted marchers posed for photos and passed out TPP OccuCards and fliers asking people to call their members of Congress to urge them to vote “no” on Fast Track. The Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121.