The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) cleared another hurdle, bringing us one step closer to another economic disaster.
President Obama asked Congress for the power to accelerate trade deals like TPP through the legislative process, which is informally called fast track. 62 senators (13 Democrats, 49 Republicans) led by Senator Mitch McConnell (R), gave in to this demand.
Obama (and all other presidents) want the moon and the stars. Congress is supposed to hold the purse strings and keep the president’s power in check. McConnell has pointed out dozens of instances of abuses of power by the Obama administration. Yet when the president demands more power, McConnell ought to push back and attempt to reclaim some power the president has already seized. Instead, he merrily grants his request. If you’re keeping score, that is Logic – 0, McConnell – 1.
McConnell offered this justification for the void where his leadership ought to have been:
“We all know that trade is important for American workers and American jobs. And we all know that, by passing this legislation, we can show we’re serious about advancing new opportunities.”
Hate to contradict you, Mitch. (Well, not really). But in any case, we don’t all know that. Primarily because it is a completely dishonest way of presenting the bill.
The House of Representatives is now the only thing standing between Obama and the bill that will hurt American blue collar workers. If they don’t turn into the Alamo, fast-track will pass and TPP is all but certain.
How will things change if fast track is approved by the House?
- Today, Congress can amend specific parts of a bill before passing it. Fast track offers just 2 options: pass the bill as-is or vote it down.
- Congress is unlikely to vote down any bill simply because of unfair provisions. They notice them, but they won’t be considered enough of an issue to vote a bill down.
- The factory workers spared by NAFTA can bid their jobs farewell.
After McConnell bartered away one of the remaining vestiges of power once held by Congress, he gift-wrapped it and sent it to the president with some mistletoe. He then announced the Senate would ofter amendments to TPP before passing it.
Mitch. Darling. That is the power you just relinquished. Barack Obama doesn’t care about anybody’s feedback, and you have officially empowered him to ignore you without even pretending to consider anything you have to say. Were you dropped on your head a lot when you were little, or something?
Even better, one of the tweaks McConnell wants are sanctions for currency manipulation. Sanctions! Horrors! Look how effective sanctions have been in Iran and North Korea. Those two countries are now virtually indistinguishable from Mayberry. Great fix-all plan.
Besides, President Obama said repeatedly he will veto any bill that contains any clauses that would make other countries more hesitant to participate, e.g., provisions that protect US workers and consumers. But we can’t know for sure because no one is allowed to read it until it’s too late to stop it. And now, thanks to McConnell’s, er, leadership, he absolutely can do that. So TPP is lurching closer to the precipice and Republicans have another Last Place trophy for the mantle, courtesy Majority Leader McConnell.
There are two burning, unanswered questions
1) Why are Republicans siding with Barack Obama? Either they’re stupid to back this terrible idea that will harm the US for decades to come —- or they are trying to exploit the divide amongst Democrats.
2) Rather than side with Elizabeth Warren or Obama, Hillary Clinton is refusing to take a stand on TPP either way. She can’t be for it because nearly every American (provided they aren’t a billionaire, a senator, or the president of the country) is against it. She can’t be against it, because she’s requesting money from the massive corporations that are paying the GOP and Obama to sell out the country. She needs some of that dough, particularly since she won’t take most questions. Gotta make a choice, Hillary. And re: TPP, why not reveal your stance the same day you share all of the data on your personal account used to conduct business (and other deals) with foreign heads of state. When day is that again? The 5th of Never?