Get your political fix from an unrepentant political junkie.
Paige “Duffy” Lewis
JUNE 18, 2015
Americans say they want bipartisanship. Here you have it:
The hot topic in Congress for now is Trade Promotion Authority, which provides a framework for Pres. Obama to negotiate international trade deals. In this competitive world economy, American businesses depend on fair and free trade. At this time, the U.S. is hindering American businesses and reducing their competitiveness through a lack of productive trade deals. Many political and business leaders fear the growing economic power of China and a growing trade deficit with most of Asia.
In May, the Senate passed T.P.A., (S.995 – Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015), with support from Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham and notable opposition from Sens. Rand Paul, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, albeit for different reasons. Constitutionally, this bill should have originated in the House of Representatives, but that seems to be a non-issue for most members of Congress.
The House voted down the T.P.A. bill Friday, with opposition from Rep. Nancy Pelosi and most Democrats, a significant number of Republicans, including Reps. Jeff Duncan and Jeff Sessions, and the Tea Party. Pelosi and the Tea Party make strange bed fellows, as they say.
Republican opponents of T.P.A., such as Paul, Duncan, Dr. Ben Carson, and Gov. Mike Huckabee, support free trade but argue that the T.P.A. gives the president too much flexibility and opened-ended power. The reason for opposition comes down to a lack of trust that the president will uphold his promises on future trade deals. Carly Fiorina, another ardent supporter of free trade, opposes T.P.A. due to the secrecy of Mr. Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership that sits in a back room hidden from public view, except for members of Congress and highly placed White House aides.
Democrats must not trust the president, either, because Obama’s negotiating tactics are losing their effectiveness. No longer does he have the power to threaten congressional Democrats by withholding party support. Manipulating lawmakers with guilt and personal attacks seems to be losing its magic as well. “Basically the president tried to both guilt people and then impugn their integrity,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio to Reuters. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats oppose T.P.A. also because it lacks a protective provision for labor unions.
For eighty years, Congress has periodically authorized the president “fast-track” negotiations with foreign competitors. Sen. Ted Cruz support the bill, citing fast-tracking trade authority for the president works and encourages free trade, which is why the Former Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice, Cato Institute, Charles Krauthammer, and George Will support it. New Democrat Rep. Ron Kind and Rep. Paul Ryan spoke strongly in favor of reauthorizing T.P.A., which expired in 2007 and left the U.S. on the sidelines of international trade.
Supporting free trade and big business is not inherently contradictory. The key is whether the government creates an economic environment that nurtures or inhibits the free market, allowing businesses to succeed or fail on their own merits. America has always prospered under free markets, and Congress would do well to support trade deals that promote free trade.