Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined MSNBC host Ed Schultz on Thursday in ripping members of both major parties who are seemingly willing to “fast-track” passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which they argued would continue the cycle of trade agreements that ultimately hurts American workers.
“These trade agreements have ended up devastating working families and enriching large corporations,” Sanders said. “Sadly, historically, what we have seen is Republicans and Democrats coming together for disastrous trade agreements — which, by the way, are partially responsible for the fact that in the last 13 years, we have lost over 60,000 factories in the United States. Not all trade, but trade is a significant reason why.”
Sanders also voiced his opposition to a proposal giving President Barack Obama’s administration “fast-track” powers over agreements like the multi-nation TPP, allowing for them to be approved in Congress without any changes.
One-hundred and fifty-one House Democrats have already signed a letter opposing the bill, but Sanders mentioned that the “fast-track” bill had a better chance of passing than bills that would extend unemployment benefits or avoid cuts to food service programs, both of which would require 60 votes to pass.
“The ‘fast-track’ concept is a terrible idea [that] prevents members of Congress from offering amendments, provides just for 50 votes for final passage,” Sanders told Schultz. “I hope very much we do not bring this bill to the floor. If we do, I hope it’s defeated.”
Schultz, who has called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids,” also questioned Sen. Ed Baucus’ (D-MT) defense of the TPP — that it would help the U.S. export products like tires — by showing a clip of then-Vice President Al Gore using the same product as an example when the North American Free Trade Agreement was being debated.
“To have trade, you’ve got imports, and the balance is simply not there,” Schultz said. “I don’t believe what Mr. Baucus says when he talks about wages. ”
“We have lost 60,000 factories in this country since NAFTA,” Schultz said. “Baucus claims that the TPP will create American jobs. That’s easy to say. Show me the money.”
Schultz also ripped Senate Republicans like Rand Paul (R-KY) for staying mum on the issue out of fear of alienating corporate supporters, but Sanders said there are a few conservatives at the grassroots level who are willing to call them out on it.
“The Republicans had better look at their grassroots,” Sanders warned. “Not just at their campaign contributors.”
Watch the discussion between Sanders and Schultz, as aired on Thursday, below.