Does a President need Trade Promotion Authority?  

January 18, 2014

Sometimes we quietly hope we’re wrong. “Maybe there is an unknown, unforeseen way for our economy to prosper in spite of international free trade,” we optimistically wonder. Then we hear about the renewal of the President’s powers to fast track free trade agreements through Congress.

This power is called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and President Obama plans to use it to push through a free trade agreement with Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam–a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

We don’t need more trade agreements. We need more jobs, and free trade agreements replace American jobs with jobs in foreign nations. NAFTA is one of the worst pieces of U.S. policy to have passed in the past 20 years.

I admire some of the promises the President made concerning having debates and being transparent, but these actions fail to support his rhetoric. Despite the obvious free trade implications for American jobs, there is a lot of additional confusion surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership because of the secrecy. The text has not been made available to the public and Congress only has limited access. Due to a leak, some believe this agreement could give corporations the power to sue foreign nations. Do we want that?

The President plans to use his Trade Promotion Authority to create more free trade agreements at the expense of the U.S. workers. Because he can enact it directly, this will lessen the opportunities to have an honest and open debate about these policies in the House of Representatives and Senate. It only benefits corporate interests who care more about profits than where their products are manufactured.

It is hard to remain optimistic when our President is asking for a fast track to the bottom.


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