Blog

Obama Flim-Flams Congress on Trade Authority

The U.S. Constitution is clear: “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises… To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations….”

But here are the headlines from the DrudgeReport:

Extreme secrecy erodes support for Obama's trade pact...
Lawmakers forced to surrender notes...
Forbidden from discussing details with public...

USA runs more than $50 billion trade deficit—in one month!
Economic Confidence Index Down Sharply...
TAKE-HOME PAY DECLINING...

Obama is treating Congress with contempt because it is contemptible. If the Republican leadership in the House and Senate had any self-respect at all, let alone any desire to enact the will of the voters who elected them to curb Obama’s imperial presidency, they immediately would order the president to turn over each and every scrap of paper related to the Trade Promotion Authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Then they would put all the documents up on the website of the Library of Congress. If the president refused, they would impeach him and remove him from office.

This isn’t nuclear-missile launch codes we’re talking about. It’s a proposed trade arrangement Congress should be examining closely. Instead, the TPA means the TPP is being negotiated under “fast track” authority in secret by Obama, then handed to Congress for an up-or-down vote. Which is not what the Constitution mandates.

TPA really should be called flim-flam authority—FFA.

But with precious few exceptions, the Republicans in Congress are just as beholden as the Democrats to the oligarchs who now run the country, and who will profit handsomely from the trade flim-flam. Although called “free trade,” like NAFTA two decades ago, it’s not that at all. As the late Murray Rothbard and others argued at the time, free trade simply means removing or lowering tariffs. But NAFTA, and now the TPA, really are what’s called “managed trade,” meaning managed for Big Business against small business and the average American worker. Rothbard wrote, “Yet NAFTSA is more than just a big business trade deal. It is part of a very long campaign to integrate and cartelize government in order to entrench the interventionist mixed economy.”

Not only that, but Sen. Jeff Sessions—why isn’t he running for president?—has warned:

“TPA eliminates Congress’ ability to amend or debate trade implementing legislation and guarantees an up-or-down vote on a far-reaching international agreement before that agreement has received any public review. Not only will Congress have given up the 67-vote threshold for a treaty and the 60-vote threshold for important legislation, but will have even given up the opportunity for amendment and the committee review process that both ensure member participation. Crucially, this applies not only to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but all international trade agreements during the life of the TPA.”

Even worse, it would increase Obama’s – or the next president’s—autocratic power to open the borders even further. Sessions again:

“For instance: language could be included or added into the TPP, as well as any future trade deal submitted for fast-track consideration in the next 6 years, with the clear intent to facilitate or enable the movement of foreign workers and employees into the United States (including intracompany transfers), and there would be no capacity for lawmakers to strike the offending provision. The Administration could also simply act on its own to negotiate foreign worker increases with foreign trading partners without ever advertising those plans to Congress.”

Interestingly, on this issue John Conyers, the leftist Detroit Democrat, has more common sense, respect for the Constitution and concern about American workers than John Boehner, the supposed “conservative” Republican House speaker. Conyers said:

“The new Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)—an agreement between the U.S. and Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam—has rightfully been called ‘NAFTA on steroids’ … Much like NAFTA, the TPP has more to do with big-business protectionism than with genuine free trade….

“But the TPP is only part of the problem. This same failed NAFTA model is being replicated yet again though a massive new Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) with Europe. Like NAFTA and the TPP, this proposed agreement would empower corporations to offshore jobs, attack U.S. and Michigan consumer protections, and sue taxpayers.”

When NAFTA came up back in 1994, I was talking about it to my friend Frank Yegge (now, alas, no longer with us). “How many pages is it?” he asked.

“More than 1,000.”

“Then I’m against it. All a trade agreement needs is a list of tariff rates for each country, which would be a couple of pages.”

In 2015, nobody even knows how many hundreds or thousands of pages are in the new flim-flam deal. It’s secret.

John C. Seiler, Jr.

John C. Seiler, Jr.

John C. Seiler, Jr., writes from California.

Add a Comment

 

Join the conversation...

You are currently using the BETA version of our article comments feature. You may notice some bugs in submission and user experience. Significant improvements are coming soon!

or

Be the first to comment on this article!

X