Despite staying largely silent on the issue—he’s quietly supported it for weeks, but hasn’t said anything at all in quite a long time—Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker crossed most conservatives by coming out in support of Obamatrade on Thursday evening in an interview with Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin.
Walker, Bloomberg’s Halperin and John McCormick wrote, “expressed agreement with President Barack Obama on the pressing issue of fast-track trade legislation.”
“Walker said he supports giving Obama the authority to submit trade agreements to Congress for an expedited, up-or-down vote without amendments,” they wrote, before quoting Walker himself.
“If we don’t go down this path, we’re going to be at a competitive disadvantage, and so I think it just makes sense,” Walker said.
“At the same time, like many Republicans who support granting the trade authority recent past presidents have had, Walker said the deal would allow the Republican-controlled Congress to review Obama’s actions,” the Bloomberg reporters wrote.
“If this president were to give them a bad deal, they should hold him accountable and vote it down,” Walker added. “They have every right to do that under the proposal.”
But Congress would be limited in its ability to act. Granting Obama fast-track authority lowers vote the vote threshold in the Senate so a deal could pass with 51 votes, rather than 60 needed to block a filibuster. And without amendments, there’s really no way to stop it in the Senate. In fact, throughout the history of fast-track with trade deals, no trade deal has ever been stopped by Congress after it started on fast-track.
Walker didn’t in this interview—at least not in the part that Bloomberg published—discuss whether or not he believes it’s acceptable for the president to continue keeping the text of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) portion of Obamatrade that Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) would fast track hidden from the American people in the basement of the U.S. Capitol in a secret room.
Since Walker is not a member of Congress, there is no way he could have read the text of the deal before making these comments. He also didn’t discuss what he thinks about the fact that not even members of Congress are allowed to read the even-more-secretive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) or Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) deals, which are among the other deals that would be fast-tracked by Obamatrade if TPA passes the House of Representatives on Friday, despite the fact nobody—including Walker—knows what’s in those deals.
Back in early May, according to the New York Times, Walker came out in support in of T-TIP—even though there is no way humanly possible for Walker to know what is in that deal since the text of it is secret even from members of Congress.
“Their generation will ultimately grow stronger, I believe, when we approve a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” Walker said.
In early March, Walker was asked at the Iowa Agriculture Summit if he supports giving the president Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)—and he said he did then, and that he supported TPP, even though since he’s not a member of Congress there’s no way he could have had any clue what was in the deal.
“I do [think the president should have TPA], and I think, not only should the President have it, the President should be a more active partner with the states. Part of my experience, some of you may know, comes from not just traveling abroad, talking about trade, but actually traveling with your Governor,” Walker said.
We also need to make sure that we go forward with a strong plan for free, open, and fair trade around the world which means not only on the Pacific Side with the TPP, we need to have that because if we don’t do that China will set the standard for trade with that part of the world. We need to be the ones to lead that so that it is free and fair and open. We can compete against anyone in the world if we have free and open trade. We also need that on the other side, in the Atlantic, so that we have that same process.
So while Walker’s support of Obamatrade is nothing new—and it’s clear he is doing so without having any clue what he’s talking about since he has no access to any of the documents—his decision to double down on the eve of the big House vote after House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) just massively discredited himself in interviews and testimony before the House Rules Committee could end up becoming a political boondoggle for him, just like the previous mistake he made in hiring pro-amnesty aide Liz Mair.
Walker corrected that mistake by promptly relieving Mair of her position then learning immigration policy inside and out, but in this case he’s clearly listening to Ryan on trade rather than the people who would have steered him in a direction that’s less part of the political establishment.
It’s unclear whether Walker will course-correct, or if he’ll stay on this pro-Obamatrade path. But one thing’s clear: If he sticks with Obamatrade, and it passes the House of Representatives, it’s hard to see a future where he doesn’t end up falling in the polls alongside Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)—another Obamatrade proponent who’s remained stagnant since endorsing the president’s trade agenda after an initially successful presidential campaign launch—and one where another candidate who stands for American workers against the donor class on immigration and trade moving into his place.
“Scott Walker: Pro TPA,” Ryan’s flack Brendan Buck Tweeted with a link to Walker’s interview with Bloomberg.
Buck was the spokesman for Ryan’s largely unsuccessful vice presidential campaign, and rejoined Ryan’s congressional office after Ryan lost alongside running mate Mitt Romney to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Walker’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong, who used to work for Sen. John Thune (R-SD)—a senator who supported Obamatrade in the Senate—further explained Walker’s position to Breitbart News by arguing that this is somehow “free trade.”
“Governor Walker is for free trade,” Strong said in an email to Breitbart News. “He has been to Europe, China, Japan and the UK to discuss how trade benefits Wisconsin workers. TPA could pave the way for positive trade agreements for our country. If the president negotiates a bad deal, the Republican Congress can and should hold him accountable by killing it when they vote on the final trade pact.”
There’s several inaccuracies and misconceptions in Strong’s quote. First off, as noted above, it’s incorrect to argue that Congress can stop a pact from passing when it’s on fast-track—in fact, in the history of fast-track no deal that has started on fast-track has ever been stopped. There’s no reason whatsoever to believe that will change under Obamatrade.
Secondly, and more important, as Sen. Sessions noted in his final critical alert against Obamatrade, this is not free trade.
“Finally, it must be observed that this is not a ‘free trade’ deal,” Sessions wrote.
It is, as Daniel DiMicco explained, a ‘unilateral trade disarmament’ and ‘the enablement of foreign mercantilism,’ whereby we open our markets to new foreign imports and they keep their non-tariff barriers that close their markets to ours. President Obama refuses to answer questions about the impact on unemployment, wage stagnation, and trade deficits. He refuses because the answer is all three will get worse. For instance, a study published in the Wall Street Journal showed that—due to barriers to U.S. auto exports—the deal would increase foreign transportation imports over our exports by nearly four-fold.
Walker could have, like former Texas Gov. Rick Perry did, easily walked back his previous pro-Obamatrade statements as they were in fact far less committal than Perry’s were. But he chose not to–and is now not just doubling down, but tripling down in support of this monstrosity.