Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sorry. The negotiating restrictions in TPA are all for show

So President Obama signed the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) he wanted into law and he gets the authority so coveted by the elites, the 1%. The authority to negotiate a trade agreement for a straight up and down vote by Congress. In that act, Congress waives the right to amend or filibuster trade agreements under TPA. That will grease the chute for the Trans Pacific Partnership and the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership along with 41 other trade agreements. Oh, and that Trade Promotion Authority is for six, very long years.

Here is the TPA bill that was signed into law. I reviewed it and could find only one paragraph for currency manipulation (hey, lets keep the dollar strong). Note also that there is a big section for intellectual property (a trade barrier that will surely be raised). I bet that will get more attention than compliance with international labor and environmental protection laws or an unwanted balance of trade. There are 12 major objectives, but those are the two that I was really looking for. You might find interest in the others.

Orrin Hatch wrote this editorial and got free press in the Deseret News for it. He is my old and crusty Senator for my state, Utah. He gushes eloquent about how great TPA is going to be. He tells us how important free trade is for middle class jobs. He tells us that the authority granted to the President includes restrictions on how trade agreements should be negotiated. He tells us that the new law signed by President Obama yesterday contains numerous "objectives" that must be met by Congress.

Here is what Hatch didn't say. He failed to mention that projected growth in the economy from the two biggest trade agreements mentioned above will amount to a rounding error in calculating GDP (most of which will go to the top 1%). He failed to mention that trade barriers are already at historic lows and that there isn't much else that can be done to lower trade barriers. Finally, after all that he doesn't even mention that when the Fed starts to raise interest rates, as they want to do, all of the projected gains from those two really big (not so free) trade agreements will be wiped out. But wait, there is one more gem our esteemed Senator Hatch forgot to mention.

We can do more to balance trade by eliminating the strong dollar policy that we've maintained for 30 years than we can by all of the trade agreements contemplated by the TPA signed just yesterday. A balance of the dollar against the currencies of our major trading partners will stem the flow of some $500 billion a year to foreign countries. A balanced dollar will bring about 5-6 million jobs home, far more than any of these trade deals promise. But you won't here that from Orrin Hatch.

Hatch is one of the old guard. He's financed by big donors, the relevant donors who think that having a billion is not enough. Having a few billion is still not enough. Having effective legislative control, well, that's really nice, but it's still not enough. I'm not even sure if the elites have any idea of what "enough" means.

There is a silver lining, though. There is a man running for president, a democratic socialist, with a legislative agenda that has remained the same for 30 plus years - an agenda diametrically opposed to trade agreements like TPP and TTIP. He's climbing the polls and if projections are correct, he very likely to beat Hilary Clinton (a supporter of NAFTA) at the Democratic Convention next year for the nomination. The passing of the TPA is lighting another fire under a campaign that is already on fire. That man is Bernie Sanders.

The major media are doing everything they can to put out that fire and frankly, they're using cold water on an electrical fire. That electricity runs through the internet, spreading the news, filling auditoriums, football fields and parks to overflow capacity. The internet is alive with the Bernie Buzz. The passing of the TPA is to me, a tipping point where Democrats, Republicans (!) and independents know they've been had and can now have a genuine alternative come next November.

President Obama has done a great many things with a very difficult Congress that insults him and spits on him like there is no tomorrow. But on the issue of trade, well, we've been played and played hard by Mr. Obama. As president, Bernie will be of even greater help to put an end to all this nonsense about "free trade".

Bring it on, Bernie!
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