“The reason why Obamatrade became law is because of Ted Cruz,” said Donald Trump’s senior policy advisor Stephen Miller on Monday’s program of Breitbart News Daily.
Miller — who had been working for Sen. Jeff Sessions at the time that Sessions led the conservative opposition to Obamatrade in the U.S. Senate— said that Cruz’s “lobbying” effort to fast track President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership “was the difference maker” that enabled fast track to pass.
Like Sen. Cruz, Obama had been pushing for fast track to ensure the passage of TPP. Fast track lowers the 67 votes required to pass a treaty to a mere simple majority, it surrenders the 60 vote filibuster, and it forfeits individual senators’ ability to add amendments or changes to the trade deals negotiated by the president. As Sen. Sessions explained, “A vote for fast-track is a vote to authorize the President to ink the secret [TPP] deal contained in these pages—to affix his name on the Union and to therefore enter the United States into it.”
On Monday’s program of Breitbart News Daily, Miller said:
We talk about Club for Growth, we talk about these groups that are out there pushing offshoring, there’s a reason why they’re aligned behind Ted Cruz — and this needs to be understood: the reason why Obamatrade became law is because of Ted Cruz. During the early pivotal moments of the fight when Jeff Sessions — and I was working for him — was out there warning the country about the living agreement [of the Trans-Pacific Partnership], about the transnational commission [established by the TPP], about the loss of U.S. sovereignty, Ted Cruz not only wrote an op-ed with Paul Ryan giving the pact urgent needed momentum, but Ted Cruz also did media and interviews arguing against Jeff Sessions.
In the April 2015 Wall Street Journal op-ed — which Miller cited during the interview — Cruz and Ryan describe the TPP as an “historic” trade agreement that would “mean greater access to a billion customers for American manufacturers, farmers and ranchers.”
Similarly, in a June radio interview, Cruz defended President Obama’s trade agenda and claimed Sen. Sessions was misguided for opposing it. Sessions had raised concerns about TPP’s creation of a global governing commission that would have serious implications for U.S. sovereignty. Cruz, however, dismissed Sessions’ concerns: “It is simply false that the TPP trade agreement gives up our sovereignty. There is nothing in TPA or TPP that can give a foreign nobody the ability to make binding law in the United States of America,” Cruz said. “I like and respect Jeff Sessions very much. What he is describing there about what this will do is simply not accurate. I respect his views, but it’s not accurate. I have read this agreement… it is not accurate to say this is undermining our sovereignty… It is simply false to say this would create some trans-national body that could change U.S. laws.”
“I could not in good conscience vote against a bill whose most significant impacts will be jobs, growth, and opportunity for struggling American families,” Cruz wrote after voting to fast-track TPP on May 22nd. “By passing Trade Promotion Authority, we create a path for trade agreements to reduce government-created barriers to prosperity,” Cruz said in a statement that could only be interpreted as support for TPP, since that was the trade agreement that was going to be sent to Congress if fast-track was adopted, as indeed is about to occur. Cruz continued, explaining that his vote for fast-track “would enable both this President and the next to expand trade that benefits American workers.”
Breitbart News Daily host Stephen K. Bannon pushed back against Miller’s assertion and asked about the fact that when a procedural matter unexpectedly caused the fast track to come up for another vote in the Senate, Cruz eventually reversed his vote to oppose fast track. Bannon asked: “Because of the work of Sen. Sessions and others — didn’t he [Cruz] actually see the error of his ways? And then at the appropriate time — or at least later — say, ‘Hey, look Mitch McConnell and the other guys lied to me.’ And he came out against TPA [trade promotion authority] and he’s coming out against TPP strongly.”
“No,” Miller replied. “He rallied support for the pact sufficient to ensure its passage and he cast the initial vote for its final passage when he and everyone else believed it was the final vote. All of the lobbying he did on behalf of the pact guaranteed its passage. If he had been silent, we probably would have defeated it. If he had lobbied against it — as he was morally bound to do — we would have defeated it. He was the difference maker.”
Indeed, Cruz seemed to provide cover for Republican lawmakers, who used Cruz’s support for Obamatrade to defend their votes to fast-track TPP.
Then-Speaker John Boehner touted Cruz’s support for Obamatrade on the Speaker’s website in a talking points memo entitled, “Conservative Support for TPA Grows” on June 9th.
These talking points were echoed by other Republican lawmakers such as Kenny Marchant, who highlighted Cruz’s support for fast track on his website as well on June 11th.
South Carolina lawmakers Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy similarly seemed to use Sen. Cruz’s name for political cover when trying to dismiss the concerns of voters who believed that granting Obama the fast track executive power he desperately wanted would further empower his Presidency: “Trade Promotion Authority is not about empowering any president,” Scott and Gowdy sought to assure voters. “Strong conservatives such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, George Will, Charles Krauthammer and the two of us support it.”
After months of promoting Obamatrade, at the last minute Cruz announced his decision to reverse his vote on fast-track based on issues unrelated entirely to trade policies — leaving the door open to support TPP in the future.
In a June 2015 op-ed in Breitbart News, Cruz said that the reason he changed his vote was due to specific provisions regarding immigration and the Export-Import bank. Cruz indicated that he could still support Obamatrade if “McConnell and Boehner both commit publicly to allow the Ex-Im Bank to expire” and if Congress passed his amendments to TPA regarding immigration. Cruz said that if those conditions were not met, “I will have no choice but to vote no.”
Cruz made no mention of any objections he had to the fundamental issues of trade policy such as the offshoring of manufacturing jobs, or the implications globalist trade pacts can have for U.S. sovereignty. In fact, in his op-ed Cruz continued to maintain his support for the general concept behind fast-tracking globalist trade deals. “As a general matter, I agree (as did Ronald Reagan) that free trade is good for America; when we open up foreign markets, it helps American farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers,” Cruz wrote on these pages– thus leaving the door wide open to enacting the entirety of the nearly 6,000 page TPP as president, so long as he gets some concessions on immigration policy and a way to phase out the unrelated Export-Import bank.
Underscoring the point that he continues to support the fundamental principles of trade globalism, Sen. Cruz also opposed a 2015 proposal to crack down on Chinese currency manipulation offered by Ohio Senator Rob Portman.
When asked, the Cruz campaign would not directly answer whether Sen. Cruz is “willing to say that he rules out supporting TPP in any form”– as opposed to his campaign’s previous statement that he would not support TPP “in its current form.” When asked why Cruz voted against Sen. Portman’s 2015 amendment, Cruz’s campaign stood by the Senator’s decision to continue Chinese currency manipulation and repeated a common talking point of those who support the illicit trading practice (namely, that cracking down on China’s cheating would result in higher prices for American consumers). Cruz’s campaign told Breitbart: “Cruz has said repeatedly that he does not support TPP and will not approve trade deals that are bad for American workers. The Portman amendment would not have fixed the problem and likely resulted in higher prices paid by Americans.”
In Monday’s interview, Miller noted that “Wisconsin has seen its middle class shrink more than any other state in the country, according to Pew research.” According to the Economic Policy Institute, 68,000 Wisconsin jobs were displaced due the nation’s trade deficit with China from 2001 to 2013.