The GOP’s Foolish Embrace Of Obama’s Trade Deal
President Barack Obama desperately wants Congress to give him more authority and Republicans are leading the charge to give the president what he desires.
No, that’s not a typo.
GOP leaders in Congress have found themselves acting as Obama’s most ardent supporters in the fight surrounding Trade Promotion Authority. Things get even stranger. The president’s usual allies are fiercely opposing TPA — otherwise known as “fast tracking” — and creating a civil war within the Democrat Party over the issue. (RELATED: Union Targeting Vulnerable Democrat For Supporting Obama)
If passed, TPA will allow Obama to bypass Congress in negotiating trade deals and will force the legislative branch to approve deals by a simple up-or-down vote. This new presidential power will give Obama the freedom to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.
The details for the deal are…well, scant. Actually, the American public is not even allowed to know about its contents and our congressmen are only allowed to read the deal in a guarded basement of the Capitol. (RELATED: Sessions: If TPP Is Good Deal, Let Congress See Details)) But don't worry. John Boehner tells us that we can soon find out what the trade deal is once Obama has signed it into law.
To summarize, the public is supposed to support a measure that will give President Obama — who’s already a fan of stretching the constitutional limits of his office — even more power to push through sketchy legislation that we can’t know about until it’s passed.
Pardon me, but this scenario sounds awfully similar to what went down with Obamacare. We all know how well that turned out. As Nancy Pelosi said in 2010 on the eve of the Affordable Care Act’s passage: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
After its passage, we learned that people who like their health plans couldn’t keep them, costs skyrocketed, America’s deficits expanded and taxes were hiked. Not exactly a pleasant surprise. (RELATED: So Long As You Ignore The Problems, Obamacare Is Perfect)
Now with TPA, it’s Paul Ryan playing Pelosi’s role and telling the country, “TPA — it’s declassified and made public once it’s agreed to.”
So why are leading Republicans in Congress so enthusiastic about giving away their authority over future trade deals to a president who’s ridden roughshod over them for his entire tenure?
Because the deal is allegedly good for trade and for our economy.
But when you hear from the few senators who’ve taken the time to read the bill and look back at similar legislation from the past, you might become skeptical of that line of reasoning.
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is one of those few members of Congress who have read the bill. He believes that TPA will further empower the executive branch, increase trade deficits, cede national sovereignty to transnational bureaucracies, encourage currency manipulation and sneak in immigration.
And on the left, the predictions get more dire as Democrat firebrands like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders see the bill as another NAFTA — a dirty word in many manufacturing towns that saw jobs dry up and factories close down when that legislation was passed in 1993. It appears likely that these new trade deals will do similar damage to blue-collar jobs, as even its progressive defenders admit.
This grim prospect has fired up many working-class Americans against the legislation. A majority of Americans are now opposed to TPA. If the House votes to pass TPA Friday and the details of the deal are as bad as its opponents make it out to be, then you can bet on further outrage.
Guess who will be on the receiving end of that anger? It’s not the lame duck president who’s going to be out of office in a year and a half. Instead, it’s going to be Republicans.
Obama’s party is strongly divided on TPA. In fact, the bill’s most vociferous critics are Democrats. And almost all of the Democrat 2016 candidates — including Hillary Clinton — have criticized it.
NEXT PAGE: Republicans Have Been Mostly Silent
Meanwhile, Republicans — with a few exceptions like Sen. Sessions — have either been silent or have been TPA’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders.
If the bill passes, people are going to rightly blame its Republican supporters. In the minds of many voters, passage of this trade bill will only cement the caricature of Republicans as the party of Wall Street and the 1%.
While TPA promises to reward the interests of multinational corporations, the benefits for ordinary Americans are lacking. The bill could turn out to hurt worker in the long run. Further, the disturbing secrecy and the lack of transparency around the negotiations shut out the American people from having a say in the matter and only makes Republicans in Congress look even more elitist.
In wanting to give President Obama the power to push through legislation without congressional input, Republicans are essentially telling Americans they’re incapable of making important economic decisions. Instead, the GOP trusts Obama more to make the right call on trade.
This message is a terrible one to have going into 2016. While it has become common to think Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” comment cost him the election in 2012, it was likely the former Massachusetts governor’s “47 percent” statement at a high-end fundraiser that barred him from the White House. That comment gave credence to the Republican Party’s stereotype as a political outfit for out-of-touch fat cats and convinced several potential GOP voters to either stay home or cast their ballot for Obama.
If Republicans hope to return to the White House someday, they have to dispel the notion that they only work for the interests of the wealthy few. They must convince everyday Americans that they actually care about the interests of everyday America.
The love affair with Obama’s trade deal doesn’t help that cause.