More on the Secret Trade Deal: populists go on the offensive

David Sirota: It has now been 4 days since the deal was announced, and the specific legislative language of the deal remains secret.
This post originally appeared on The Working Assets blog

With the opening of the new week, fair trade Democrats are going on the offensive in response to the secret free trade "deal" worked out between a handful of senior Democratic congressional leaders and the Bush administration. It is now a full four days since the press conference announcing the deal, and the dealmakers still have yet to release the legislative language of the trade policies in question, instead simply sending out their own press releases and triumphant statements from K Street lobbying groups. Coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally) this secretive behavior is happening at precisely the same time the Associated Press reports that "Democrats are suddenly balking at the tough lobbying reforms they touted to voters last fall" with many wanting "to keep the big campaign donations and lavish parties that lobbyists put together for them."

The stonewalling, and the declaration by the Bush-connected U.S. Chamber of Commerce that it has been given "assurances that the labor provisions [in the deal] cannot be read to require compliance" has created a full-on backlash on Capitol Hill and in the heartland. Though some say the specific legislative language of the deal hasn't been written yet, that explanation seems suspect considering the unity and enthusiasm with which top K Street icons have endorsed the deal and the claims of "assurances" corporate lobbyists say they have been given about the unenforceability of the labor standards. Here's the latest news.

David Sirota was the top spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee. He is currently writing a book on the middle class economic squeeze for Crown Publishers. You can contact him at