On Trade: Obama, GOP Leadership Conspire against American Workers

Published on June 19th, 2015

By Joe Guzzardi
June 19, 2015

On June 18, the U.S. House of Representatives passed President Barack Obama’s coveted fast-track trade bill, TPA. As Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, summed it up: “This is a vote for a stronger economy and higher wages.”

But Americans are apprehensive, and have little confidence that the end result will be “a stronger economy and higher wages.” They’ve seen the North American Free Trade Agreement’s ravages, and other trade bills’ devastations that produced record deficits, destroyed the U.S. manufacturing base, left millions of Americans unemployed, and have stagnated wages for decades.

Known as trade promotion authority, the measure would give Obama and his White House successor unprecedented authority to submit trade agreements to Congress for straight up yea or nay vote without amendments on proposals that could radically revise trade policy for the next six years. This week’s 218-208 House vote sends the measure back to the Senate where, in a slightly different form, it passed in earlier this month.

If the Senate approves fast-track again, the multi-faceted deal will have far reaching implications that imperil American workers. In his statement issued shortly before the House vote, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions warned Americans that what’s at stake is more than a trade agreement, but is rather a self-governing and self-perpetuating commission with “extraordinary implications for American workers and American sovereignty” that the public would not have access to and Congress could not amend or filibuster. Even Senator Orrin Hatch recently admitted that he has no idea what’s in the trade bills.

The Republican Party, which should represent the opposition, has colluded with President Obama in an all-out effort to put fast-track in place. In the process, Congress has surrendered its right to amend trade treaties, and apparently approves of relocating factories and jobs to Asia.

GOP leadership, elected last November in large part because of its pledge to fight back against Obama’s executive overreach, has totally caved in. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described an early winning vote on a procedural vote as a “nice victory,” and Speaker John Boehner was so furious at defecting Republicans that he ordered three of them fired from his whip team. As a sign of their determination, McConnell and Boehner have sent out multiple assurances to the media that Congress they will deliver trade bills to Obama’s desk

Another globalist job-killing trade deal is not what Americans envisioned when they voted Republicans into House and Senate majorities. U.S. Rep Jim Jordan (R-OH), who voted against Boehner and Obama, said that Americans elected the GOP to block the White House’s agenda, but have betrayed voters. A Pew Research poll backs up Jordan—65 percent of Republican voters feel abandoned by their party.

Americans have heard the empty guarantees before—that trade equates to a vigorous economy and more stateside jobs. The facts reveal that those promises have been lies. Since NAFTA in 1992, the U.S. absorbed $11 trillion in trade deficits. During the 21st Century’s first decade, America lost about six million jobs and 55,000 factories have shut their doors. Once major manufacturing centers like Detroit and Baltimore are hallowed out shells that aren’t coming back.

The trade bill’s provisions welcome low-wage, foreign-born workers who would further depress American declining wages. With poverty increasing and the middle-class eroding, Americans should not be forced into even greater economic distress. Should the Senate pass fast-track, however, many more Americans will lose their jobs.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]

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