A lot is riding on today’s vote on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
Have you noticed what a bland name TPA is? Politicians have a knack of selecting names that disguise an entity’s true purpose, e.g., Patriot Act, National Security Agency, House of unAmerican Activities Committee. Maybe extremely bland names are the next-gen strategy for ensuring little attention is paid to what politicians do?
We could rename some current legislation to more accurately represent the content. How about:
- Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) –> The Reducing American Citizens’ Representation Act
- Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) –> The Enrich Corporations at the Expense of American Workers Bill
The aim of both of these bills is simple and disturbing. Here it is, in plain language:
- What is TPP? A massive free trade bill that impacts 40% of the world’s economy, and a top priority for the Obama administration. It has been in the works since 2009.
- What is the purpose? The winners are the fabled 1%, who hope to outsource work to third-world countries and pay foreign workers a fraction of what American workers once earned. Corrupt politicians dream of enriching themselves at the expense of the people they promised to represent.
- What is the consequence? The bill is guaranteed to cripple the American working class; tens of thousands of blue-collar workers will be put out of a job to feed the rich. The devastation wrought by this deal will make it all but impossible for so-called “unskilled workers” (i.e., those who are not college educated) of today and tomorrow to earn a livable wage.
- What is the government’s concern? If Congress can negotiate this bill, it probably won’t pass. Anyone who wishes to keep their job can’t vote for something sure to be harmful to the country. So the administration is pushing Trade Promotion Authority, as an intermediate step to grease the skids.
Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is set to be voted on today.
- What is TPA? A bill that guarantees an up-or-down vote on trade deals, without amendments. This bill is often referred to as “fast-track legislation”.
- What is the purpose? The immediate purpose is to ease the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Long-term, this bill transfers a lot of power from Congress to the president.
- What is the consequence? This bill would enable the Obama administration to persuade Congress to swallow the Free Trade pill with a payoff in the form of incentives, giveaways, and guarantees of future support from the grateful 1%. For instance, Senator X is offered a big payout to vote for TPP. If this bill passes, he has no power to negotiate a fair deal on TPP or any other trade bill. So why not simply vote for it and collect the payout?
If TPA passes, the way is cleared for the TPP and future exploitation of our own citizens.
Culpability of President Obama
TPA and TPP are the priorities of the Obama Administration. Lest I paint too ugly a picture, TPP includes temporary emergency relief to those who will no longer be able to earn a living wage. Since the administration refuses to allow the public to see the bill, we don’t know if relief extends six months or five years, but either way it’s an inadequate consolation prize to those who value hard work, self-sufficiency, and security.
Passing over the impropriety of President Obama’s attempt to legislate, the secrecy shrouding these negotiations, the blatant lack of trust shown to the citizens of the United States, and the steadfast refusal to be open about this bill is abhorrent to a self-governing people.
Culpability of the Republican Congress
Today, the ball is in Congress’ court – which is controlled by the Republicans. The Republicans were elected to put a stop to much of the Obama administration’s activities, and since they took power in January, they have been underwhelming. So far, they have been discouragingly supportive of this bill. Senator Mitch McConnell has publicly advocated it.
Now is the chance to redeem yourselves, Republicans. These bills are twin threats to the country, a surer menace than a nuclear Iran. You can strike a blow for the American people and ease the concerns of Americans around the gridlock by standing with the Democrats – who are trying frantically to stop this disaster led by their party’s president. If the Republicans can’t defend America against this threat, they don’t belong in office.