John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Nobody is Playing it Straight On Trade

Posted on June 12, 2015

"12-07-13-washington-by-RalfR-12" by Ralf Roletschek (talk) - Infos über Fahrräder auf Wikis in der Ausbildung - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The President asked Congressional Democrats to play it straight on trade.

But in this debate, it’s hard to find anybody who is playing it straight.

Mr. Obama was asking Democrats to vote for Trade Assistance Authority because he knows that Republicans don’t want to vote for it.

Republicans don’t want to vote for it because it is a titanic waste of money.   It’s another government spending program created to give political cover to Democrats.

That’s why Paul Ryan rightfully separated the vote on TAA from the vote on TPA.

Let the Democrats vote for another government spending program that doesn’t work.

TPA, on the other hand, will work. It will work by giving negotiators enough confidence that the US government won’t back out of its agreements.

But TAA is the price that must be paid to get Democrats to allow TPA to pass.

It’s not pretty. But it is reality.

And Democrats understand that by killing TAA – policy that they agree with no matter how ineffective –they might be able to kill TPA.

Cynical strategy? Of course. Will it work?   I doubt it.

Talking about cynical, let’s turn our attention to the right wing.

Heritage Action came out against the trade agreement, making the dubious case that it wasn’t sufficiently linked to a debate on Export Import bank.

Of course, the real reason they wanted to come out against TPA is because they believe it helps them to get more donations from small donors.

Heritage Action is a part of the Heritage Foundation, but the Heritage Foundation is theoretically supportive of trade promotion authority and of free trade. Or least, it has been for all its existence.

Who knows where it stands now, with Jim DeMint at the helm.

DeMint famously shook down the House Leadership during the TPA vote of 2001 to such an extent that then Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas threatened to vote against bill.

Jim DeMint is no free-trader, so it should be no surprise that the Heritage Foundation political arm is now opposed to TPA.

Matt Drudge has taken to calling the TPA vote "Obamatrade".   Clever.  But Obamatrade is not Obamacare.  Obamatrade -- if that's what you want to call it -- is a product of free market capitalism.   Obamacare was a rejection of free market capitalism.

Obamatrade gets plenty of clicks though, and if you are Matt Drudge, that is all you really care about.

Nobody is playing this straight, even the President's strongest supporter in the House.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lobbied to cut off TPA after two years, presumably because she didn’t trust Hillary Clinton to negotiate a trade agreement with Vladimir Putin.

I jest, but Pelosi’s gambit just adds to the cynicism.

Cynicism suffuses the whole political system.

The President begs the Democrats to play it straight.

Fat chance of that happening, on either extreme of the political universe.