White House’s Fast Track Push Facing Serious Opposition

Dave Johnson

The Hill reports that the White House is pushing hard for “fast track” trade promotion authority, to help push through the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other upcoming “trade” agreements. Meanwhile the yearly trade deficit resulting from previous trade agreements will likely approach $500 billion for 2013. Think about the boost $500 billion of orders for American-provided goods and services would give our economy.

From The Hill: “Obama: Give me fast track trade“:

The White House is making a major push to convince Congress to give the president trade promotion authority (TPA), which would make it easier for President Obama to negotiate pacts with other countries.

… The authority would put time limits on congressional consideration of those deals and prevent the deals from being amended by Congress.

Democratic Opposition

Fortunately few Democrats are falling for this. Introduced by lobbyist Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the committee’s ranking Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) along with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) the bill has found no Democratic co-sponsors and no members of the Democratic leadership have signed on. In fact, according to The Huffington Post last week, “The fast track trade bill introduced in the Senate last week will go nowhere anytime soon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday.” … “Asked if he told Baucus that Reid would make time on the floor of the U.S. Senate to debate the measure, Reid said ‘No,’ four times.”

In addition to problems in the Senate, HuffPo’s Zach Carter reports on problems in the House, in “Why House Democrats Might Kill Obama’s Big Trade Deal“:

“We want transparency. We want to see what’s going on there,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters. “We have a problem with that.”

As a result, many Democrats fear the actual terms of the deal do not reflect traditional Democratic Party policy priorities.

“This is a big problem now,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. “There is inadequate engagement on the substance of what will be in an agreement or out of an agreement.”

[. . .] “We have had a trade deficit that has exceeded $350 billion every single year for the past 13 years. We have this enormous staggering problem with our economy called the continuing trade deficit, and this is a measure that would make that worse,” Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said. “The classic example of this is NAFTA. NAFTA has managed to hurt American workers and Mexican workers at the same time.”

And most Democrats don’t think the pending TPP deal addresses numerous labor, environmental and other issues adequately.

… Progressives like Grayson have long been critical of free trade deals because of their empowerment of corporations. But even members of the House Democratic leadership who have traditionally supported such pacts are upset over the current deal and worried about its impact on their 2014 message.

Conservative Opposition, Too

There is also opposition to fast track from non-corporate-owned conservatives. The conservative American Thinker blog has a must-read post, “Fast Track to a Bad Deal“:

This year’s version is designed to help President Obama negotiate a multinational trade agreement called the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” (TPP) with countries of the Pacific Rim including Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan, three countries that run big trade surpluses with the world and with the United States.

Trade negotiations with Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan, countries that already run massive trade surpluses with the United States and the world, are unlikely to yield anything like balanced trade. Such an outcome would require that they sacrifice the short term (e.g., economic stimulus) and long term (e.g., investment and innovation) gains they derive from imbalanced trade with the United States. Trade negotiators for the U.S. are likely to continue striking poor deals that are harmful for U.S. workers and diminish U.S. economic growth. …

There is one way that Congress could turn around this fast track to a bad deal. The Trade Priorities Act should specifically require that any trade agreement include automatic tariffs that will be imposed upon the products of any agreement country that is running a trade surplus with both the U.S. and the world.

… If trade is balanced, the odds of both countries winning dramatically increase. Unless its authors rewrite to require balanced trade, Congress should give the Trade Priorities Act no priority at all.

Please read this entire post and see the charts and explanations of the damage that continuing trade deficits do to the country.

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers have posted a good look at the opposition to fast track in “People Pressure Is Making Fast-Tracking the TPP Politically Toxic.”

Take a look at StopFastTrack.com for resources, links and actions.

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