noimage URGENT!!!



Senator Corzine (D-NJ) has just agreed to sponsor an amendment to the Senate fast track bill to help ensure that trade agreements protect essential public services. He is seeking co-sponsors. Senate Majority Leader Daschle wants to complete Fast Track NEXT WEEK so there is no time to waste.

CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY. You can call on the AFL-CIO toll-free line set up to oppose fast track 877-611-0063. Refer to the Corzine Public Services Amendment.

Remember -- whether your Senators are for or against fast track, they should support this amendment. So when you make these calls, it is best to just talk about the amendment.

Here are more details which you can use in talking to your Senators' offices. Be sure to ask for the Trade Legislative Assistant (LA in Hill jargon).

The amendment would establish as a trade negotiating objective that the US Trade Representative (USTR) shall ensure that any trade agreement not include a commitment to privatize significant public services, including:--

national security;--
Social Security;--
public health and safety; and--

As I am sure you know, new rules on trade in services are being negotiated at the World Trade Organization as part of a round to expand the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and in the Free Trade Area of the Americas process. This could lead to trade agreements under which services traditionally administered by federal, state and local governments would be threatened by rules favorable to competition by foreign corporations. Policies that protect public services but that could put competing private providers at a disadvantage could be challenged, even if government involvement is needed to guarantee access to such essential services as Social Security, health care and education.

For instance, states could be barred from providing subsidies to public universities to level the playing field with private providers. In the end, the cost of higher education for all students would increase.

The USTR should leave decisions relating to the privatization of national security, Social Security, public health and safety, and education services to Congress and other elected officials.

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that any change in the provision of significant public services be made democratically, based on our national values. The amendment would ensure that Congress and elected state and local officials have a full opportunity to debate the merits of privatizing essential public services. Even if Congress grants the president extended authority in trade matters, it should retain full and unfettered responsibility with respect to the provision of public services.

The current fast track bill would increase the power of trade negotiators to place new constraints on the ability of Congress and state and local lawmakers to set public policy regarding a broad range of services. Given the potentially serious and far-reaching consequences of these agreements, it is imperative that Congress develop clear, enforceable limits for our negotiators in order to ensure that new trade rules do not undermine the provision of key public services. This amendment will keep responsibility for public service provision in the United States where it belongs: Congress.