Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in the Huffington Post. We reprint in part here.
WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) took to the Senate floor Friday evening to make a point-by-point analysis of why a trade deal being negotiated by President Barack Obama would harm the United States.
Merkley’s comments came as the Senate voted to give Obama “fast track” authority that will allow him to negotiate a deal that Congress can then approve with an up or down vote, but cannot alter.
While Obama has said that the deal, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is “the most progressive framework for trade” the United States has ever had, Merkley argued on Friday that the deal would hurt American workers, increase inequality and undermine American sovereignty.
“We are creating a structure of a group of seven very poor nations with very low wages, five affluent nations with higher wages, and think about the difference between running an operation on the mound or Malaysia or Mexico, with a minimum wage of less than $2 an hour, and in Vietnam with a minimum wage of 60 to 70 cents depending on what part of the country you’re in,” Merkley said. “Think about the difference between that and the minimum wage in the United States. It is a 10-to-1 differential.”