Open Letter from Former DNC Chairs Urges Fellow Democrats to Support the Trans-Pacific Partnership

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, former DNC Chairs released an open letter urging fellow Democrats to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership to strengthen the U.S. economy by expanding labor rights around the world, establishing new guidelines that protect our wildlife and the environment, and supporting thousands of jobs. Released in collaboration with the Progressive Coalition for American Jobs, this letter from Don Fowler, Senator Paul Kirk, Governor Ed Rendell, Governor Roy Romer, and David Wilhelm highlights the importance of leveling the playing field for American workers so that we can build a new, 21st century economy and compete in emerging markets around the globe.  


Fellow Democrats,

As former DNC Chairs and members of the Democratic Party, we strongly believe that our country is better when we work together and we all play by the same rules. We are proud that our party and our president are working to ensure that everyone gets a fair shot and that our economy works for the middle class.

Our country is now in the midst of a debate over the future of our global economy: whether our values and priorities will help shape forces like technological advancement and globalization or whether we will yield our leadership to other rising powers.

The alternative choices in this debate are not new. Throughout the 20th century, great Democratic leaders like Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy worked boldly to form rules of international commerce that created American jobs and helped our middle-class workers and businesses succeed in an increasingly interconnected world.

While we are proud of our past, this debate is about the future. Will the United States harness the long-running force of globalization to promote sustainable, inclusive, and equitable growth? We have a chance to do this now with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Last Monday, the President completed negotiations on this historic trade deal that will supports hundreds of thousands of jobs while establishing unprecedented safeguards on labor standards and the environment. We believe the TPP is a critical tool in our efforts to shape the economy of tomorrow.

The TPP opens access to new markets for Made-in-America goods and services. When 95% of the world’s consumers live outside our borders, creating structures to support more American exports is paramount. The deal eliminates 18,000 foreign taxes on American goods and services — a huge step forward to ensuring that American businesses have a chance to play by the same rules as foreign businesses. When everyone competes under the same regulations, we’ll bet on America to win every time.

Just as American firms will benefit from greater market access and reduced foreign taxes, so to will American workers. When American exporters sell more goods abroad, they can hire more people here at home. And because export jobs pay 18% higher on average, these jobs will be higher-paying.

American workers deserve more than our status quo provides, and there is no denying that some trade deals of the past haven’t lived up the hype. Our middle class suffers from a global economic system that incentivizes a race to the bottom in labor rights and wages. That’s why the TPP creates enforceable labor protections at the core of the agreement — a first for any trade agreement.

To receive the benefits of the TPP, partner countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, and Mexico will have to implement serious labor reforms that provide new rights to collective bargaining, a minimum wage, workplace safety, and maximum hours worked, and ban forced labor, child labor, and employment discrimination. The TPP is the largest expansion of enforceable labor rights ever and will quadruple the number of workers protected abroad, but these protections will also benefit  American workers who will now compete on a more level playing field.

We are proud that our our party, led by our president, fights everyday for an economy built from the middle out, not the top down, and where everyone gets a fair shot and does their fair share. We urge fellow Democrats to support this tough, new trade deal that raises standards and sets new rules of the road for the global economy. Accordingly, we urge Congress to pass the TPP.


Don Fowler
Former DNC Chair

Paul Kirk
Former DNC Chair and US Senator from Massachusetts

Ed Rendell
Former DNC Chair and Governor of Pennsylvania

Roy Romer
Former DNC Chair and Governor of Colorado

David Wilhelm
Former DNC Chair


The Progressive Coalition for American Jobs brings together progressives and Democrats committed to leveling the playing field for American workers and building a stronger economy for all of us.

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