As long as there have been trade deals, there have been proponents and opponents, and there have been winners and losers. There is rarely agreement on whether a deal is good or bad for the people.
Has become apparent that Barack Obama has been working on a free trade deal in secret, and only now is it out in the open. Last week, many democrats voted against the Fast Track bill and many republicans voted for it. The bill was defeated. The bill aims to allow the President to negotiate a Fast Track agreement with no Congress oversight.
In the Senate, a cloture motion was put to end debate on the Fas Track and it was approved. Three senators did not vote, and three senators switched sides.
Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, commenting on the events in the Senate, releasing a statement, in which he said, “The Senate narrowly approved a cloture motion to end debate on Fast Track today by a vote of 60-37. Three senators did not vote. Senator Corker previously voted “yes,” Senator Menendez previously voted “no” and Senator Lee previously voted “no.” Senator Cruz (R-TX) switched from “yes” last time to “no” this time. The last Senate cloture vote was approved 62-38. Today’s vote was slightly closer at 61-39, if we assume the three non-voting Senators would have remained consistent.”
The vote on the Fast Track bill should be put tomorrow. Stumo says, “The actual Fast Track vote is expected tomorrow and will be a simple majority vote. CPA expects Fast Track to pass and President Obama to sign it.”
The Fast Track bill is not the only trade-related bill being considered. Others being considered in the House and Senate are Trade Adjustment Assistance, customs, trade preferences for certain countries and Export-Import Bank reauthorization.
Virgil Bierschwale, writing at Keep America At Work has an interesting chart that shows how the current huge trade imbalance between imports and exports came about since trade deals were put into place in 1976. He says “Everything I have read, and the fact that they have kept the text of the bill secret from Americans in America tells me that this next Free Trade Agreement will kick in the Steroids which is going to be very bad for us here in America.”
The coalition for a prosperous America is opposed to the Fast Track bill. Mr Stumo says trade deals have caused declining prosperity and trade deficits in America. He says America could have a successful trade and competitiveness strategy and thanks to CPA many more Congressmen now understand this to be the case.
“This is not the end, but the beginning. Forty straight years of declining prosperity and trade deficits caused by incorrect establishment thinking is not changed overnight. CPA is disappointed in the vote, but optimistic that we have made tremendous gains in developing a bipartisan movement towards a successful trade and competitiveness strategy for America. The Republican and Democratic opposition to past trade policy is far stronger than it was three or four years ago. Opposition to Fast Track drastically exceeded opposition to the Korea, Peru and Colombia trade agreement passage in 2011.”
The work on this Fast Track bill commenced in earnest last January. President Obama and the Republican leadership expected that they would pass the bill easily. They were wrong. There has been a lot of arm twisting in Congress to force Congressmen and Senators to pass it. Some have lost committee chairmanship positions over their failure to comply with the demands of the leadership.
“The President and Republican leadership, last January, assumed that passage of Fast Track would be easy. Instead, it was hard. Constituent emails and calls to nearly all congressional offices were heavily against Fast Track. After a series of initial defeats, drastic leadership arm-twisting occurred. Promises were made but not kept. Threats were issued. Primaries were threatened to freshmen congressmen. Committee chairmanship positions were stripped.”
Americans are opposed to current policies on trade and global governance. The people no longer believe that jobs will be created by the trade deals because they have never succeeded in creating jobs previously. On the contrary, many jobs have been lost. The performance of trade deals do not line up with the rhetoric and promised performance, yet politicians continue to push free trade agreements.
“The Republican base and the Democratic base remain united in their opposition to current trade and global governance policy. Job creation claims are no longer believed because they have proven false. Growth claims fall flat. The rhetoric in favor of trade deals contrasts shockingly with the data on post-agreement performance.”
“America needs to establish a long term goal of balanced trade, a medium term goal of becoming a net exporting nation and a short term goal of producing more of what we consume. We need to recognize that tariffs and quotas are no longer the issue. This is not 1906 anymore. The new mercantilism and trade distortions are currency manipulation, foreign border tax hikes, industrial subsidies and a few other tactics that move the net trade needle towards deficit. Any modern trade policy must address these modern tactics. And America must fix its tax policy to substantially increase our trade competitiveness.”
Michael Stumo at the Coalition for a Prosperous America urges members, supporters and voters in general to support the congressmen and senators who voted against the Fast Track Bill, because they are the ones protecting American jobs.
“CPA members and supporters, as well as voters, need to support the congressmen and senators who voted against Fast Track. Voters should withdraw support from those who voted for Fast Track. Our memories should be long, not short.”