By Cathy Keim
It all comes down to trust.
I do not want to minimize the complexity of negotiating trade agreements, particularly ones that involve multiple nations spanning the globe. However, in its eagerness to complete this trade agreement, our government is currently ignoring its citizens across the political spectrum. Perhaps this is just the way it is going to be from now on.
The Constitutional limits have been frayed to the point that nobody expects anybody to have any restraint anymore. This President has overstepped the boundaries frequently and the legislative branch has not peeped. Oh, they may growl occasionally for the rubes back home, but once they are safely back in DC, they roll over and play dead.
The trade agreements that are currently on the table are the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). All of these could be placed on fast track under the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) if the House approves it as the Senate already has done.
Fast track would mean that no amendments could be added to the agreements. They would be voted up or down by a simple majority.
Trade agreements are difficult because they have so many partners all jockeying for the best deal. For this reason, the President has been given TPA routinely since the 70s. So what is different this time? Why are so many people concerned about fast tracking these agreements?
For many of us, the answer is that trust has been broken. We see the President overreaching his authority repeatedly, so why would we want to give him more authority?
What is so difficult to understand about this? And yet, our senators just gave him fast track and the leaders in the House are pushing to follow right behind.
The House Republicans could block TPA in a heartbeat, but they are so mesmerized by “free trade” that they cannot pull their eyes away and consider the big picture.
The Democrats loathe these bills because their party is owned by the unions, but they are disciplined and will follow their leader to the end. Harry Reid did not vote for TPA, but he knew it had the votes to pass in the Senate. Nancy Pelosi is walking a much tougher line. She must supply enough Democrat votes to get this over the finish line, but she is reluctant to vote for it herself or to push one more Democrat to vote for it than she has to. They are counting the votes to see how many safe Democrats must fall on their sword to make this happen for the President.
After much thought, it seems that the final points to consider are:
- The vote for TPA is essentially a vote for TPP. No trade agreement has ever been stopped once it came under fast track.
- Congress should not vote on bills it has not read. This bill is over 800 pages. Senators Cruz and Paul signed into the locked room to read this bill, but nobody has said how long they took to read it. Personally, if they were not in there for several hours, I cannot agree with the comment that they “read” the bill. A question for your congressman is: have you read the bill, and if so, how long did it take you?
- This President has overstepped his authority on so many issues that he should not be rewarded with additional authority.
- Congress should quit cowering and take responsibility for their Constitutional duties, rather than voting away responsibility to the executive branch.
- The trade agreements can still be worked on without fast tracking them.
- TPA or fast tracking can be considered again after the next President is in office if the new executive renews trust.
The lack of transparency of this administration, the outright lies, and the total disregard for their Constitutional limits demands that Congress respond with strength and firmness. So far, we have seen neither.
I cannot tell you which evils are going to be unleashed upon the American workers if TPA is passed, but only that they will be many. This will play out exactly like Obamacare: slowly but surely – and always to our detriment – one horror after another will be exposed.