I've often wondered what trade critics like Global Trade Watch thought trade rules should look like. They don't like what we have now, but what do they want? Now I have a better idea of this, as they have endorsed a new House trade bill. Here's their press release; here's a fact sheet; and here's the bill.
I'm not sure that, based on my quick skim of the bill, I can give a precise summary of what changes they want to see. Generally speaking, though, they want to strengthen the labor and environmental rules in trade agreements; weaken IP and investment rules; make sure health and safety rules are permitted; and exclude service sectors and public procurement to some degree. (Correct me if that's wrong, Global Trade Watch folks!) On its face, it's not as radical as I anticipated. For example, I wondered if they might make an explicit call for higher tariffs. However, it may be that some of the environmental and labor rules they seek would be deal-breakers for our trading partners, and the weakening of IP and investment rules would cause U.S. industries who support trade deals to abandon the process. Thus, these changes could make it very difficult to sign any new trade agreements.
One news report explains the goal of the bill:
The sponsors don’t expect the bill to pass this year. Rather, it’s a vehicle to draw attention to the issue as the presidential and congressional campaigns progress – and to make sure the issue, and the legislation, is front and center when a new president enters the White House.