that guy in Arizona Wrote:
Otto von Bismarck famously said, "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being make".
That phrase came to mind this morning as I read about the final negotiations on the Trans Pacific trade bill.
For a long time, I simply could not decide whether the trade bill was a good or a bad thing, and the fact that Elizabeth Warren (who I like ) and Barack Obama (who I also like) took opposing positions on the bill really had me confused.
Fortunately, Schmidt published articles on April 29 and Mary 12 that clarified the issue, and I swung over to supporting it.
Until this morning.
Some of the amendments now being proposed by the Republicans would make the bill a lot less desirable. I have strong opinions about climate change, and James Sensenbrenner's amendment would make it more difficult to address that issue. In addition, Steve King's proposed amendment would muck up a lot of the progress we have made on immigration.
The final House vote is scheduled for today, and my opinion will have absolutely no bearing on the outcome
One thing that IS certain,. though, is that Pope Francis should nominate Obama for immediate sainthood as soon as his term ends. No one but a saint could tolerate as much nonsense as he has had to put up with for the last 6 years.
Arizona -- Thanks for the NYT article. I know all this procedural stuff can be confusing so let me try clarify some points.
The Trans Pacific Partnership Trade agreement (TPP) is still in the negotiation phase amongst the 12 countries concerned. It is not final and will not be voted on until it is final. That may be months away. All the public has seen is the WikiLeaks draft from 2013. Members of Congress, however, do have access to an otherwise secret draft....NOT the final draft. They are at liberty to voice concerns to the Obama administration.
The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill (aka fast track) allows the President's team of negotiators to conduct final negotiations with the authority that final draft will not be cherry picked apart in Congress. Congress will only have an up or down vote, but cannot make amendments. The Senate has approved the TPA, but the House has not yet voted on it. It is important for Obama to have this authority to be able to negotiate the final terms of the TPP in good faith. Most analysts say that without the TPA, the chances of getting the 12 countries to agree to the TPP are pretty slim. You kill the TPA and you most likely are killing the TPP...at least in so far as America is concerned. The other 11 countries can proceed without us.
The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) is a separate bill that provides financial support to workers that become unemployed as a result of trade agreements. Democrat support for the TPP is conditional on also passing the TAA. Without a strong TAA, Democrats cannot support the TPP. Nancy Pelosi withdrew her support for the TAA in a procedural move so that the terms for worker assistance can be strengthened. That's what the vote was about in which "Obama suffered a crushing defeat by his own party."
The Trade Promotion Bill that the House passed was in lieu of the Trade Promotion Authority. It had a laundry list of things that Republicans wanted (as per the NYT article) but excluded Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). However, this bill will not be taken up by the Senate. It's more of a "feel good" move by Republican House members.
For the TPA to pass the House, it needs a strong TAA. Without a strong TAA, Nancy Pelosi can withhold her approval of the TPA. Without the TPA, President Obama's six years of negotiations to reach a final deal on the TPP are likely dead in the water. Historically, Congress has always granted presidents TPA authority although sometimes the vote margins have been slim.
Contrary to media reports, the unions have been represented in the negotiations, although with 12 countries concerned, only the top negotiators have a seat at the table. Unions submitted a large laundry list of demands, but most were not taken up. We do not know what demands were accepted and what were rejected as they are a part of the secret negotiations. In my opinion the unions have not been entirely honest in their dealings. They have been against the TPP from the get go. They are against all trade agreements and have sought to sabotage the negotiation efforts. I would not be surprised if they were the ones that leaked the draft to WikiLeaks.
I maintain that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are using their opposition to the TPP to pander to a niche audience of liberals and progressives. They don't mind throwing Obama under the bus for their own gain. I have read all of their "talking points" but most all are directed at past trade agreements. All of the talking points are largely borrowed from the union funded EPI (Economic Policy Institute).
Having said all that, however, I think it is a good move by Nancy Pelosi to seek a stronger TAA before going forward with the TPA. Republicans are opposed to TAA entirely. They are playing politics. The media are misreading this and are too eager to cast it as another defeat for Obama. Many in the media are totally ignorant of the process and deal making.