Trans Pacific Partnership agreement has set the stage for a legislative battleground placing Democrats against Obama’s “fast-tract” authority to negotiate a Pacific trade pact. It’ll be the largest trade agreement in history, when the U.S. aligns with 11 other partnering countries that is central to Obamas strategic shift toward Asia.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) also known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is a proposed regional regulatory and investment treaty. Participating countries tried to wrap up negotiations in 2012 but contentious issues such as agriculture, intellectual property, services and investments caused it to fast forward to the last meeting in July 2014 in Ottawa, Canada. The implementation of TPP is one of the primary goals of the trade agenda of the Obama Administration in the U.S.
The Obama admin, announced in 2009 when he took office that it was entering TPP negotiations with 11 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. This potential legacy-defining achievement under Obama’s belt would connect 12 economies by cutting trade barriers and coordinating standards covering 2/5th’s of the world’s economy and 1/3rd of global trade.
TTP partners, including Australia, Malaysia, Japan and Peru have balked at making key compromises with the U.S. if Obama didn’t have TPA, Trade Promotion Authority.
The two biggest economies of the TPP countries among the twelve are U.S. and Washington’s key partner- Japan. Officials of Japan’s have said that TPP negotiations depend on whether the U.S. Congress approves fast-track TPA measures to “ease passage of trade deals”. Other TPP countries have also stated fast-track authority would give trading partners “certainty” that agreements will not be picked apart by Congress, needing only an up-or-down vote. An agreement between them is essential to the pact.
Opponents, like organized Unions, health professionals, advocacy groups and internet freedom activists are lobbying hard to defeat it with Democrats protesting the negotiations because of the proceedings secrecy of the expansive scope and controversial clauses in drafts leaked to the public.
Republicans that are opposed are much more concerned about delegating that much power over to the White House.
“The fastest growing markets are going to be in Asia,” Obama said. “If we do not help to shape the rules so that businesses and our workers compete in those markets then China will set up rules that advantage Chinese workers and Chinese businesses.”
Others say that TPP must pass Congress this year to avoid being pushed to the back burner with the US elections putting Hillary in a difficult spot. As a former member of the Obama admin she would have to walk a thin line between supporting Obama her former boss and warning the Congress of the need for tougher trade deals. Remember it was Bill Clinton who oversaw passage of NAFTA, North America Free Trade Agreement deal that many unions loathed back in the 1990’s.
Unions are protesting this deal, saying it’s NAFTA on steroids and calling for Congress (not) to sign off on the fast-track. Apparently (AFL-CIO) union leader Richard Trumka put in 105 proposals to this new bill to protect American workers pay and job security but only five, according to him, were considered.
Rep. Paul Ryan is for fast-track now; he explains, “That the rest of the world is going around getting trade agreements and the US is losing. There is a race right now to write the rules of the global economy; question is who’s going to write the rules? Will it be US and our allies or China?”
Rep. Paul Ryan said 1.) “TPP is being negotiated and it does not exist yet, we are negotiating with eleven other countries. 2.) It puts the U.S. in the global driver seat, Congress along with the administration on getting trade agreements. We are putting 150 guidelines to the President saying this is what a trade agreement needs to look like if you want to bring it back to Congress,” he told Fox news. “We also want more accountability and transparency. Once the agreement is reached it must go to the public to see for 60 days while Congress considers it; congressionally imposed guidelines. If the White House doesn’t do that then Congress reserves the right to remove trade promotion authority. At the end of the day Congress has the final say.”
The second point on what Rep. Paul Ryan said above is totally contradictory to the actual wording of the bill. Reuters reported, “Last week Senior U.S. lawmakers from both parties reached an agreement on the wording of the bill to allow a vote on granting Obama what is called a “fast-track” trade promotion authority or TPA. That authority aimed at giving Congress (restricted negotiating objectives) allows the administration to negotiate trade deals that will only face a (yes-or-no) vote from Congress but no drawn out process of amendments.”
Rep. Paul Ryan consistently displays a Rino viewpoint and doesn’t have a close relationship with the truth in bipartisan agreements for his conservative constituents. His last bipartisan deal with Senator Patty Murray was at the expense of our military’s retirement pay. He cut the annual cost of living adjustment for working age retirees under age 62 by one full percentage point to help balance the budget in 2013 to avoid another government shutdown. This was devastating to our soldiers and showed his deep lack of respect and concern for their service and was in contradiction of their government contracts.
Marketwatch.com says, “The Obama admin has the economics of the proposed TTP trade pact backwards: The closer you look at the economics of President Barack Obama’s proposed Pacific Rim trade deal, the less sense they make from an American standpoint. This Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is touted by its champions as a golden opportunity for the United States to hitch its idling economic wagon to the shining star of high-flying East Asia.
But the numbers show instead that the talks’ paramount prize is a U.S. market more vital than ever to the economies of stalled-out competitors determined mainly to sell to the United States, not to Buy American. The result is sure to be a drag on U.S. growth.”
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren last week called Obama’s plan an attempt “to help the rich get richer and leave everyone else behind.” The President shot back at her telling MSNBC TV talk show host Chris Matthews: “she’s wrong on this.”
Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader from Nevada, set the stage for the Senate debate on Tuesday, declaring a “hell, no” vote on fast-track.
House members debate the bill on Thursday in the Ways and Means committee. Washington State Rep. Dave Reichert, a senior member of the panel, called the legislation “a momentous step forward for US trade policy.”
In California opponents are pressuring Democrat House minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors urged Pelosi, who represent the city, to oppose the fast-track bill. (She said she’d support a substitute bill expected to be offered by Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich.)
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said “it’s not fair to rush such an important issue, that’s a complete abdication of our responsibilities.”
While most Republicans and a few Democrats back Obama he faces vehement opposition from traditional allies, including: Unions, environmental groups and Liberals who want nothing to do with his fast-track proposals. This fiery controversial battle goes into the House on Thursday and appears to have drawn a dividing line straight across the Parties; one seems to either love it or hate it, leaving little wiggle room in the middle, so at this point the “fast track” passage looks bleak as the Democrats hit pause.