Another Obama-Democrat rift opening over free-trade fastracking?
posted at 2:31 pm on January 25, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
While Democrats will be undoubtedly effusive about several of the economic-agenda items about which President Obama is likely to proselytize and subsequently harangue Republicans in his State of the Union address next week — more fake stimulus ideas, extending unemployment insurance, false explanations for income inequality, blah blah blah — I’m wondering how much play he’ll give to an idea that might actually garner a little more Republican applause than Democrat.
Things are a little uncomfortable right now with some members of his coalition on a few ObamaCare-related conundrums and furthering pending sanctions for Iran, and earlier this month, a few lawmakers unveiled legislation that would give the president powers that Clinton, Bush, and Obama himself have used in the past to streamline the process for arranging free-trade agreements with other countries, but which have since expired and the Obama administration is seeking to refresh. Via The Hill:
The White House is making a major push to convince Congress to give the president trade promotion authority (TPA), which would make it easier for President Obama to negotiate pacts with other countries.
A flurry of meetings has taken place in recent days since legislation was introduced to give the president the authority, with U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman meeting with approximately 70 lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate. …
The effort to get Congress to grant Obama trade promotion authority comes as the White House seeks to complete trade deals with the European Union, and a group of Asian and Latin American countries as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. …
Legislation introduced last week to give Obama trade promotion authority was sponsored by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), as well as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the ranking member on Finance.
The bill, however, has zero House Democrat co-sponsors — and it doesn’t seem very likely to get them, either. A few GOP leaders are pushing the president to do the right thing and make use of the bully pulpit to highlight the issue if he’s really serious about it, but… that could get awkward. Via the AP:
Already, he is encountering pockets of Democratic resistance, especially from those representing manufacturing states, to his efforts to win congressional approval for renewal of “fast track” negotiating authority. …
Two House Democrats, Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and George Miller of California, sent a letter to Obama last week announcing they had already lined up 151 House Democrats in opposition to what they called “fast-track procedures that usurp Congress’ authority over trade matters.” …
Organized labor is also digging in its heels. “The AFL-CIO opposes this legislation in the strongest of terms and will actively work to block its passage,” said the labor organization’s president, Richard Trumka. “It is past time for the United States to get off the corporate hamster wheel on trade.” …
Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and an Obama antagonist on budget issues, is a top Obama ally in the trade debate. But Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House committee overseeing trade and a strong supporter of Obama on most other economic issues, is a top opponent.
And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has hinted that he isn’t keen on putting the measure up for debate in the Senate anytime soon, with Sen. Baucus standing as the lone Democratic supporter from that chamber. I haven’t looked at the text of the legislation and I’m always wary of handing over higher authority to the executive branch, but this definitely doesn’t look like the Obama administration’s worst-ever idea. There can be no denying that freer trade is not the zero-sum game that protectionism-loving special interests make it out to be, but rather a mutually enriching openness that absolutely creates net economic growth for everybody involved.
Obama himself spoke out against this kind of thing when he was running against Hillary, and to some extent, Romney — back when there were unions to appease and their campaign donations to collect, so he can hardly blame his fellow Democrats for taking the intellectually bankrupt low road — but the reality of his other failed big-government policies perpetuating only sluggish economic growth seems to have him singing a different tune.
Breaking on Hot Air