McConnell blasts the president’s political posturing on free trade deals

posted at 12:05 pm on September 6, 2011 by Tina Korbe

A few weeks ago, The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler debunked the president’s oft-repeated claim that the legislative branch bears responsibility for delayed final passage of three free trade agreements first signed in 2009. Perhaps that’s why Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the opinion pages of WaPo today to accuse the president of indefensible disingenuousness about the deals. Even the headline of the piece was hard-hitting. “Why are three free trade deals languishing on the president’s desk?” the hed blared. McConnell proceeded to build his case against the president from there:

For nearly three years, Republicans and a number of Democrats have been calling on the president to approve these deals to create a level playing field with America’s competitors overseas, vastly expand the market for U.S. goods, strengthen our ties with three important allies and create jobs for Americans. Yet the deals have been stuck at the White House since Inauguration Day.

Publicly, the White House claims to support all three agreements. It even said in July that Republicans are the ones standing in the way of ratification. But this is absurd because Congress can’t ratify trade agreements until the president submits them for congressional approval. He knows as well as I do that once he does, all three would garner wide bipartisan support.

What’s the real holdup? For three years, the administration has delayed finalizing these deals because unions have been extracting concessions in exchange for their support. Early on, they demanded further concessions and political reforms from our trading partners, all of which have been satisfied. Now, they’re demanding taxpayer funds for worker training programs that many believe are not only duplicative and costly but may not even be effective. Still, I and others have told the president we are prepared to allow this program to move ahead for a vote as a sign of good faith and to move the trade deals forward.

That’s right: Congressional Republicans — whom the president never fails to accuse of flatly refusing to compromise (in some cases, the president has even preemptively accused R’s of “playing political games”) — agreed to allow a vote to move forward on Trade Adjustment Assistance (the training programs for which the president has been holding the trade deals hostage) just to demonstrate their willingness to work with The One.

That’s mighty big of the Republicans, especially considering TAA doesn’t deserve the support the president demands (although, like McConnell, I’ll grant the “good faith” merit of a debate and vote on TAA). Heritage Action’s Mike Needham explains:

TAA provides overly generous benefits for just a small fraction of laid-off workers. TAA gives those workers two years of job training, a year of Trade Adjustment Allowances, money for job searching and relocation, a refundable health care tax credit and a two-year wage insurance program to supplement lower earnings.

Those benefits, which go far beyond what most unemployed workers receive, are expensive. Congress appropriated roughly $2 billion in 2010. The White House claims extending the program for another decade would cost taxpayers an additional $7.2 billion.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk described the White House’s insistence as an effort to keep “faith with America’s workers.” However, there is no evidence to suggest the program’s assistance and training improves workers’ future earnings. A study by the Government Accountability Office confirmed the predictable trend.

“Just to be clear,” as the president loves to say: These free-trade agreements will result in a net increase of jobs. As McConnell says in his op-ed, the White House’s own estimate puts the number of new jobs likely to be generated by the trade pacts at (the very scientific) tens of thousands. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that completing these agreements would protect 380,000 jobs.

The president is willing to jeopardize hundreds of thousands of jobs — and forsake tens of thousands of new ones — just because Congress might not allow him to spend $7.2 billion of taxpayer money on training programs we don’t need? Indefensible, indeed.

Yet, somehow, I have the feeling the president will still smugly mention the FTAs in his jobs speech Thursday, as though Congress, and not he, is responsible for the tenuous situation of the trade pacts. At that point, I just might have to turn off my TV.


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Gee, it’s almost as if Obama doesn’t WANT to grow jobs.

/conspiracy theorist

fossten on September 6, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Campaign fodder for dear leader and nothing else

That’s why…..

cmsinaz on September 6, 2011 at 12:10 PM

He knows so little about so little that his lies are always much further from the truth than he imagines.

Akzed on September 6, 2011 at 12:11 PM

Maybe it’s only me… but I absolutely detest McConnell.

To me, he is the perfect example of the corrupt “crony capitalist” politician. They only weigh in and fight to the mat where it concerns their business “buddies”.

TheRightMan on September 6, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Another 5 minutes added to King Barry’s speech on Thursday to verbally scold Mitch.

Knucklehead on September 6, 2011 at 12:17 PM

I think he’s doing a fine job.
 
crr6 on August 10, 2011 at 6:15 PM.

rogerb on September 6, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Add Deceitful to Divisive, Dithering, Deficits and Diversion of money to supporters. I say this all rates a solid D average.

KW64 on September 6, 2011 at 12:17 PM

just because Congress might not allow him to spend $7.2 billion of taxpayer money on training programs we don’t need?

I’m sure Barry already has picked WHO will get the $7.2 billion. Probably some of the same folks who got over $1 million when Barry and Ayers were “improving” Chicago schools.

GarandFan on September 6, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Hey, Mitch, I have a great idea! Let’s concoct a plan with some super-committee that’ll let Barack have his way on everything, yet he can still blame the GOP for its failures!

SouthernGent on September 6, 2011 at 12:27 PM

All according to plan.

The more who live on assistance, the more likely they’ll vote for Dems, to keep that assistance. AKA welfare, food stamps, medicaid.

capejasmine on September 6, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Yet, somehow, I have the feeling the president will still smugly mention the FTAs in his jobs speech Thursday, as though Congressthose sons of b!tches who need to be taken out, and not he, is responsible for the tenuous situation of the trade pacts.

TXUS on September 6, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Political posturing? From this President? Surely you jest.

John the Libertarian on September 6, 2011 at 12:28 PM

I sent this Chief Executive an email the second week he was in office telling him that I knew he was lying because his lips were moving. I still stand behind that!

I also find that Joe Wilson is one of the bravest men in congress today, because he was not afraid to go out on a limb to call this president out on how untruthful he was!

Vntnrse on September 6, 2011 at 12:37 PM

At that point, I just might have to turn off my TV.

I’m not turning mine on. Obama has already admitted that he’s playing politics and wasting everyone’s time with an unserious outline for a framework for a discussion on jobs – or whatever it is. Topping that off with more slander will be no surprise.

forest on September 6, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Does anyone know if there will be a GOP response to 0bama’s Thursday night spectacle?

If so, I sure hope McConnell isn’t delivering it. I’d prefer to see a real conservative’s response. And I want to see them call out 0bama on these trade agreements.

UltimateBob on September 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM

I hear Bali is nice in the fall.

a capella on September 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM

If so, I sure hope McConnell isn’t delivering it. I’d prefer to see a real conservative’s response. And I want to see them call out 0bama on these trade agreements.

UltimateBob on September 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Rubio could probably do it best.

a capella on September 6, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Maybe it’s only me… but I absolutely detest McConnell.
To me, he is the perfect example of the corrupt “crony capitalist” politician. They only weigh in and fight to the mat where it concerns their business “buddies”.
TheRightMan on September 6, 2011 at 12:15 PM


The thought that one of these RINOs would step up to the plate to defend their constituents, the GOP, or America as a whole is a joke. They are not there to serve anyone but themselves. This would be better accomplished at home with some lotion and the twins…

mauioriginal on September 6, 2011 at 12:48 PM

I also find that Joe Wilson is one of the bravest men in congress today, because he was not afraid to go out on a limb to call this president out on how untruthful he was!

Vntnrse on September 6, 2011 at 12:37 PM

Wouldn’t it be great if the entire Republican side of the hall rose in unison and shouted “YOU LIE!!!” the first time the Zero tried to blame them for the lack of free trade agreements during his Thursday Blather.

landlines on September 6, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Maybe it’s only me… but I absolutely detest McConnell.

To me, he is the perfect example of the corrupt “crony capitalist” politician. They only weigh in and fight to the mat where it concerns their business “buddies”.

TheRightMan on September 6, 2011 at 12:15 PM

LOL, I don’t have time at the moment but just had to chuckle at the headline…McConnell “blasts” ROFL, When has McConnell ever blasted anyone or anything? So funny! This coming from the Republican Senate Minority Compromiser himself. After all, it was his brainstorm that gave us the Super Committee, from the Super Compromiser.

bluefox on September 6, 2011 at 12:55 PM

Leave it to the SUCK GOP leadership team to focus on some obscure crapola.

instead of calling out OBAMA and his fellow Unionistas on the comments by White House Press Secretary James Hoffa, JR.

The D.C. GOP never misses an opportunity to show their incompetence.

PappyD61 on September 6, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Agree with the posts above. The GOP “elite” illustrate everything that is wrong with Washington. How can we get term limits passed?

ultracon on September 6, 2011 at 1:10 PM

Leave it to the SUCK GOP leadership team to focus on some obscure crapola.

The D.C. GOP never misses an opportunity to show their incompetence.

PappyD61 on September 6, 2011 at 1:02 PM

If these R’s don’t get their act together, he’ll have a 2nd term.
They want to major in minors. The only way we are going to win, is shouting Jobs, Jobs, Jobs and the Economy.

I’ve seen the Bachmann thread on the big uproar about the Department of Education. B.O. would love and is looking for anything to run against other than the Economy and Jobs. It looks like many are giving it to him. Except SP.

These mini distractions are not going to win. The Elephant is in the room, run with it Republicans!!

And just think Pappy, Campaign Managers get paid, LOL

bluefox on September 6, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Agree with the posts above. The GOP “elite” illustrate everything that is wrong with Washington. How can we get term limits passed?

ultracon on September 6, 2011 at 1:10 PM

At the voting booth, just like we did in the 2010 mid terms. Only the good guys would sign on to term limits anyway and we’d still be stuck with the bad guys.

Check and see how many Dems & Repubs are up for re-election in 2010 in the House & Senate. Then take action. That’s what I’m doing.

If you need any info on how to do that, let me know.

bluefox on September 6, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Gee, it’s almost as if Obama doesn’t WANT to grow jobs.

/conspiracy theorist

fossten on September 6, 2011 at 12:09 PM

I think we are long past the conspiracy theory:-) We are in the fact zone:-)

bluefox on September 6, 2011 at 1:22 PM

Hey, Mitch, I have a great idea! Let’s concoct a plan with some super-committee that’ll let Barack have his way on everything, yet he can still blame the GOP for its failures!

SouthernGent on September 6, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Funny, but pitiful at the same time. This is another reason to take the Senate. Can’t we remove this compromiser from his post?

bluefox on September 6, 2011 at 1:25 PM

forest on September 6, 2011 at 12:42 PM

He’s not allowed on my TV, audio or video:-)

bluefox on September 6, 2011 at 1:28 PM

At that point, I just might have to turn off my TV.

Do like I do: don’t turn it on. Or watch TruTv’s World’s Dumbest Politicians at 7pm. It’s always good for a laugh and Obama consistently comes in at number 1 every week.

Rod on September 6, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Does anyone know if there will be a GOP response to 0bama’s Thursday night spectacle?

If so, I sure hope McConnell isn’t delivering it. I’d prefer to see a real conservative’s response. And I want to see them call out 0bama on these trade agreements.

UltimateBob on September 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM

I’ve been sitting here thinking who would be the best person to give the GOP response…….still thinking. Do we have anyone that knows how to bite, instead of just barking?

The HA threads are about R’s fighting amongst themselves. The Dems are making more noise against B.O. than the R’s are, imagine that?

Maybe someone else can suggest someone, I can’t. Trump? LOL

bluefox on September 6, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Maybe someone else can suggest someone, I can’t. Trump? LOL

bluefox on September 6, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Rubio

Rod on September 6, 2011 at 1:53 PM

These mini distractions are not going to win. The Elephant is in the room, run with it Republicans!!

it’s almost like SOME ‘leaders’ in the GOP would like to get sidetracked on something other than the Economy.

Could that be purporseful or just incompetence?

PappyD61 on September 6, 2011 at 1:59 PM

For them, it seems, no economic proposal is acceptable unless Washington is firmly at the helm, and no amount of evidence about government’s past failures at engineering economic prosperity will convince them otherwise. The fact that the president’s first stimulus is a punch line doesn’t seem to matter.

Exactly. To the Obamamunists, economics is nothing more than a zero sum power struggle between government and the private sector. Any economic growth that comes from unfettered trade is illegitimate and a threat to these tyrants. Everything Obama has done proves that he views the private sector as something to be either controlled or destroyed. It is his enemy, pure and simple.

RadClown on September 6, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Maybe someone else can suggest someone, I can’t. Trump? LOL

bluefox on September 6, 2011 at 1:35 PM
Rubio

Rod on September 6, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Thanks, that will work. He’s a great debater too. Not sure who gets to make these decisions. McConnell? Hope not!

bluefox on September 6, 2011 at 2:26 PM

it’s almost like SOME ‘leaders’ in the GOP would like to get sidetracked on something other than the Economy.

Could that be purporseful or just incompetence?

PappyD61 on September 6, 2011 at 1:59 PM

I have to go with purposeful Pappy. Do you think those with a College degree and most all are Attorneys and have been in Congress for such a long time could be incompetent?

When any unemployed worker, without those credentials would be very competent and could tell you what is important?

Take a look at my latest post on the Bachmann Educational HA thread. bluefox on September 6, 2011 at 2:03 PM

Oh, I am against the Department of Ed and all big government programs. That wasn’t the point I was trying to make, just how difficult it would be, & who has the plan?

bluefox on September 6, 2011 at 2:35 PM

Of course Obama is full of it, but contrary to this report TAA is a good program. The cost is relatively low and the success rate for folks that use it is over 88%. That means these folks use the training money to stay off UE, get trained and them move into a new job. I know it is knee jerk to dis all gov programs, and frankly, lots of them deserve it, but TAA is not one of those. It puts people to work in productive private jobs at a very high rate.

georgealbert on September 6, 2011 at 2:49 PM

The One’s “new” agenda is pretty well transparent. He has nothing but an increased debt to run one, so now he only needs to stonewall on everything and blame congress for literally everything. It’s too late to blame Bush, so congressional republicans will have to do. I’ve written to my congressman (Hunter) several times that I’m tired of the administration making indefensible claims, and the republicans of congress just sitting on their hands without countering this moron. The liberal electorate is not a group of intellectual people so they need to be educated. Otherwise they’re left to listen to what the liberal loonies dish out, and consider it fact.

stacman on September 6, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Yet, somehow, I have the feeling the president will still smugly mention the FTAs in his jobs speech Thursday, as though Congress, and not he, is responsible for the tenuous situation of the trade pacts. At that point, I just might have to turn off my TV.

You’d let Obama get on your TV?
Not me.
I can’t afford to replace it, and after a few seconds of Obama’s smug mug blaming everyone but himself for everything bad there would be a size 11 shoe sailing through it.

I’ll be watching da Packers!

VelvetElvis on September 6, 2011 at 3:06 PM

It’s sure easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize Mitch McConnell for compromising on issues and working with the Communists in the Senate. Just remember he has done a valiant job in slowing the Obama agenda from a minority position and having turncoats in his own caucus vote with the other side. Much of the time the Communists shut him out and completely ignore him because they have the votes. He has done more with less chances than anyone I can name. If you are unhappy with this situation please send Mitch reinforcements by electing a veto proof senate. Mitch McConnell is a warrior and deserves credit for the battles he fights everyday as an outnumbered underdog.

Marco on September 6, 2011 at 3:12 PM

I hear Bali is nice in the fall.

a capella on September 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Yeah, ain’t that a quick in the teeth? Another friggin’ trip for O-Mussolini and Moochelle Antoinette while Americans are suffering.

GrannyDee on September 6, 2011 at 3:43 PM

At that point, I just might have to turn off my TV.

At that point, the Republican Senators, led by McConnell, should walk out en masse from the Joint meeting.

En masse.

Boehner should follow suit, in solidarity.

(I know, it won’t happen, but that is what they should do.)

DINORight on September 6, 2011 at 4:16 PM

I get so confused there are so many trade agreements floating around, the ones that the Bilderberg Group are pushing are the CAFTA and FTAA, are these the ones we are talking about?

They also wanted NAFTA and after Clinton met with them and was elected PRES. he passed it.

I liked Perry begore I found out he met with them too, they seem to elect the Pres. and control policies around the world, they are the ones pushing for One world Gov. and who do you think will be in charge, Soros is also a member.

I just remember Perot saying if NAFTA passed listen for the big sucking sound, he was right, these two will further the decline of America.

Get rid of all the progressives, Dems. or Repubs., Ron Paul is starting to look better and better to me, if the tea party would get behind him we could take back Ameroca.

concernedsenior on September 6, 2011 at 4:17 PM

I think that a lot of you McConnell critics need to read the whole opinion piece by Mitch. It spells out the many ways ObaMao has hampered job growth, not just through these languishing trade agreements that O was blaming on the Republicans. McConnell has a strong argument.

onlineanalyst on September 6, 2011 at 5:11 PM

Hunter is a good man, & my congressman too! I heard him on Michael Savage the other night talking about defense cuts & the “supercongress” and how damaging it could turn out to be to defense spending!

Vntnrse on September 7, 2011 at 7:05 AM

The President sees free trade for corporate jet users as a crime. As a matter of fact, anything labeled free is in Democrats cross hairs as long as it was not their idea.

MSGTAS on September 7, 2011 at 10:29 AM