From: Senate Passes Free Trade Bill, House Remains a Bigger Hurdle
By: Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times
May 22, 2015
Senators passed the first major free trade bill in years late Friday, with more than a dozen pro-trade Democrats linking arms with most Republicans to grant President Obama a major legislative victory — and powers to conclude a Pacific trade deal. The legislation, which cleared on a 62-37 vote, still needs House action, and that is likely to be a tougher test, with Democrats in the lower chamber less inclined toward free trade.
But the vote is still a substantial victory for Mr. Obama, who has staked his personal prestige on winning a legacy-enhancing trade deal known as the Trans Pacific Partnership. Friday’s vote was on fast-track negotiating powers, known as Trade Promotion Authority, that will allow Mr. Obama to complete negotiations on the 12-nation TPP.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican who led the fight for the TPA, said just ahead of the vote on what he called “likely the most important bill we’ll pass this year.” TPA lays out the conditions for Mr. Obama to complete negotiations on the TPP and any other trade deals he wants to reach. It sets environmental and labor standards that must be observed in any deal, and creates a set time period for Congress to consider and vote on whatever final agreement the president submits.
Friday’s vote on passage was anticlimactic. The bigger test came a few hours earlier on an amendment that would have injected language into the fast-track powers requiring the administration to punish other countries deemed guilty of keeping their currency rates artificially low versus the dollar in order to gain an export advantage. A lower currency makes a country’s exports more attractive to others, and makes imports less attractive to its own residents.
RINOTRACKER RESPONSE FROM CHRIS ADAMO:
For several decades, the Republican Party has been complicit in a pattern of fraud and distortion under the auspices of “free trade” agreements. From the start, promotion efforts of these international treaties have been consistent in many respects. And with each, the United States is assured (both from without and within) that its economic prospects are guaranteed if the latest measure passes the Congress, but doomed without it.
The “Trans Pacific Partnership” (TPP) is merely the latest such effort. And once again, all of the standard precepts of the globalists are being trumpeted as inarguable truth. Just as predictably, they are framed in a manner intended to stifle any opposition. Of course such tactics are wholly consistent with the political left. Yet as with every previous situation, the GOP “Establishment” is in lock step with the globalists, thus reinforcing the image of the Republican Party as merely a tool of rich elitists. But rather than debunking the falsehoods and establishing trade relations on a basis that truly benefits America, the GOP continues to treat the current façade of “free trade” as legitimate.
First, it should be recognized that accusation of “protectionism” hurled against any who oppose the latest “free trade” agreement is merely a ploy to prevent a thorough examination of it. Suggesting that the only available options are either “free trade” or protectionism is tantamount to claiming that the only alternative to “affirmative action” is segregationism. In a rational discussion, many levels of freedom or control of international trade can be established. And if the latest version does a poor job of defining those boundaries, it is perfectly reasonable to severely modify it or even abandon it and start the process again.
Secondly, the premise that such agreements represent “free” trade is entirely bogus. Truly free trade can be defined in a few paragraphs. When these pacts reach thousands of pages in length, it should be obvious that they represent nothing in the way of “freedom,” but are instead guidelines for thoroughly micromanaged trade, at the behest of involved parties and their lobbyists. In a total mockery of capitalism, governments pick “winners and losers” before the treaty is ever solidified. And this determination is made on the basis of who has the most influence with those writing the rules. Historically, the United States has been badly outmaneuvered during these contests, since its political players are quickly swept up into the fervor of attempting to pass something (or anything) in order to claim success.
Thirdly, each ensuing “free trade” effort is invariably touted under the premise of being a “must pass” situation. The possibility of jettisoning a bad deal, and eventually replacing it with one that better serves American interests, is never even considered. Instead, the official line is that if this deal doesn’t pass quickly, horrendous economic consequences will ensue. If such dreadful repercussions were indeed an inevitability, one would have to wonder just how the economies of all the involved nations ever survived in the past. Yet such critical thought is never even part of the debate.
The manner in which this latest “trade agreement” is being ram-rodded through the Congress is truly abominable. The secrecy with which the specifics of the deal are being withheld from the public eye is itself a disqualifying factor. Despite any pros or cons to it, the concept of shutting “We the People” from participation in its establishment or passage is wholly unconstitutional and as such, represents sufficient reason to halt any further consideration.
Rumors abound that TPP contains many provisions that are wholly unrelated to trade but threaten to place much of American life under international control. With the propensity of the Obama cabal to work tirelessly against the American ideal, such grave warnings should be taken very seriously.
If opposition to this accord is indeed greater in the House than it was in the Senate, Americans may still have a chance to stop it and ensure that any future agreement conforms in substance and procedure to the proper standards. Rather than defiling the legislative process in a manner that gives Barack Obama more latitude for overreach, it should be reined in to the point that American interests are the chief concern.
E-mail Christopher G. Adamo at: email@example.com