Two dozen retirees and concerned citizens braved the cold and rain Jan. 12 outside the Portland office of U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden to express their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The rally took place just hours before President Obama’s State of the Union address, at which he was expected to (and did) push for passage of the TPP trade agreement between 12 countries. More than 20 rallies — sponsored by local chapters of the Alliance for Retired Americans —were held across the country, including one in Seattle.
“It’s cold and rainy, but not as cold-hearted as the politicians who support this trade deal,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain. “TPP is not a job creator; it is a wealth creator.”
Chamberlain said lawmakers can talk all they want about “stronger enforcement rules” in the proposed TPP. “But if it isn’t funded, enforcement rules aren’t worth the paper they’re written on,” he said.
Scott Blau (pictured right with bullhorn), president of the Oregon chapter of the ARA, said the TPP “will be bad for jobs and bad for consumers who rely on prescription drugs.” He said Americans already pay the highest prescription drug prices in the industrialized world, and that last year prescription drug prices went up by 13 percent — more than eight times the rate of inflation.
“TPP is very likely to add a whole other level to that, because of the way the drug companies will be able to hold onto their patents and not allow generic drugs to be made, which lowers the cost of drugs,” he said. “We are calling on Congress to oppose this agreement that will lock in high drug costs and line the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry.”
In Oregon, U.S Sen. Jeff Merkley and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, both Democrats, say they will oppose the TPP.