In light of a recent Wikileak’s publication https://wikileaks.org/tisa/ of the proposed TISA trade agreement along with this analysis; http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/31370-fast-track-hands-the-money-monopoly-to-private-banks-permanently# it’s clear a previous BlueLouisa posting about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) did not adequately convey just how bad this and other pending trade deals are.
In order for the United States to participate in these agreements, Congress first has to pass the Trade Promotion Authority bill (TPA), which would give the President the authority to; recommend international trade agreements to Congress, limits their ability to debate it, allows for no amendments, and calls for a straight majority yes or no vote to approve these trade agreements.
If Congress passes this bill, it would transform the Presidents trade recommendations to Congress into offers a rubber stamped body can’t refuse, giving he and any future president the authority to circumvent Congresses role in monitoring those agreements. Turning his request for “greater flexibility in trade negotiations” into another way of saying let me throw some constitutional insult on top of that economic injury.
Despite the best efforts of White House staff and an obliging media to portray this as a clash of personalities between the President and members of Congress, nothing is further from the truth. It is a bi-partisan smoke screen designed to take the public’s eye away from the fact that giving any president this kind of unilateral authority for any reason is a seriously bad idea.
Like others Presidents before him, President Obama argues that granting him fast-track authority allow him to make trade deals not previously possible. In his case, a claim which conveniently overlooks the fact that Wall Street interests and multinational corporations are writing all three of these international trade deals in secret, along with conducting a PR campaign that whitewashes how these trade agreements will affect American workers, farmers, and consumers.
On Friday, June 12th, the House voted on three separate parts of the trade authorization bill — H.R. 1314. House Speaker John Boehner deliberately structured the process so that all three had to pass or the entire Trade Promotion Authority package would not advance.
A procedural maneuver little removed from high stakes riverboat gambling, except this three-bit parlay wasn’t a long shot on winning; it was a sure bet to lose. Betting to lose because the TPA will pass, no matter how convoluted a route it travels. In this case, a route that starts with the trade-adjustment assistance (TAA) measure being soundly defeated in the House by a 302 to 126 margin. http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll361.xml
In order for the TPA package to clear the House it had to include a TAA provision like the Senate version. Because the failed TAA motion was joined at the hip with TPA, the entire bill went into a state of political limbo, not entirely dead—but not entirely alive either.
But like many zombie ideas, fast track authorization is one that refuses to die. Speaking of reanimating the dead, at the conclusion of the TAA vote, Speaker Boehner moved to reconsider that the vote be rejected. After putting the motion to reconsider to an unrecorded voice vote, he imperiously announced that the ayes had prevailed.
Had this end run around the Houses procedures been allowed to stand it would have effectively severed Trade Assistance from the TPA package, ensuring its passage in the House. But after congressman Sander Levin demanded a recorded vote, Boehner postponed further proceedings, announcing the matter would be reconsidered later.
Following that “unexpected” defeat, the Republican leadership quickly called for a motion to concur with (aka accept in it’s entirety) the Senate’s version of the Trade Promotion Authority bill which narrowly passed by a 219 to 211 margin on the strength of 191 Republican votes. http://clerk.house.gov/evs/ 2015/roll362.xml
Out of parlor tricks, their only option to pass TPA was to schedule another vote the following week, leaving plenty of time for another Congressional bait and switch. And the evening before the TPA vote, the House Rules Committee attached a “clean” fast-track TPA bill to — H.R. 2146 which allows certain Federal employees to make penalty-free withdrawals from their governmental plans after age 50.
The House passed it the following day by a nearly identical 218-208 vote, without any provisions for a Trade Adjustment Assistance program. http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll374.xml. The TPA bill then went back to the Senate for further reconsideration; where after an earlier prolonged fight over trade assistance it was unlikely they would do so a second time. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ 2015/06/17/house-vote-clean-tpa_n_7607224.html.
Allegedly in exchange for Democrats agreeing to pass TPA through the House and Senate, the Republican controlled Senate would pass TAA for displaced workers, through an attachment to an African trade preferences bill. After it passes the Senate, it goes back to the House.
Where despite trade assistance being soundly defeated less that two weeks ago, it supposedly has a “better” chance of passing after Democratic House leaders agreed on Wednesday not to block it. Although exactly how the Republicans plan to convince 90+ members of the House to reverse their previous vote on TAA is anyone’s guess.
Predictably, the following week TPA passed the Senate by a 60-38 margin with 13 Democrats, including Virginia’s two Senators reprising their votes. Now the Trade Promotion Authority or “fast track” bill sits on President Obama’s desk awaiting his signature, where supposedly he won’t sign it until a TAA measure reaches his desk.
Speaking of our President, there are few stranger threads to this story than the Koch Brother’s sponsored American Legislative Exchange Council, support of him on this issue. http://www.alec.org/model-legislation/resolution-on-trade-promotion-authority/
In case you were wondering, ALEC is an industry sponsored “advisory group” with an extensive network of political connections devoted to “suggesting” pro-business model legislature to state representatives. In their internal documents, ALEC highlighted the Obama administration’s support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “as one part of its strategy to increase competitiveness and employment in the United States.”
Unfortunately if any group has come to be associated in the public’s mind with the problems of letting corporate interests dictate domestic policy, it’s ALEC. And with the Presidents mechanization’s on behalf of TPA costing him the support of the countries major Labor organizations, along with Environmental and Farming groups, who have pledged not to support any Democrat voting for this bill, he’s not helping his parties chances in 2016.
It should also be clear that he isn’t particularly concerned with any political fallout, or even if TAA becomes part of TPA, and that these international trade agreements will soon become a reality.