House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) blasted out a press release on Thursday proclaiming that a majority of Americans support Obamatrade. To back up his point, he cites a new Pew Research Center survey released this week.
But a closer look at the survey reveals that Ryan is selectively quoting it to fit his pro-Obamatrade agenda—as his office specifically failed to include a key part of the report that states, “fewer Americans express positive views of the impact of trade deals on their personal finances.”
“Fifty-eight percent —that’s how many Americans think trade agreements are good for the U.S., according to survey results released today by the Pew Research Center. Just 33 percent disagree,” reads Ryan’s press release.
The Pew poll results found that, yes, public support for international free trade agreements has increased. But more importantly the results highlighted “fewer Americans express positive views of the impact of trade deals on their personal finances.”
“And, as in the past, far more say free trade agreements lead to lower wages and job losses in the United States than say they result in higher wages and job gains,” the Pew report continues.
Ryan’s office claims that 43 percent of Americans believe free trade agreements have helped their families, and also cites an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll.
However, the Pew results note: “Currently, 46% say free trade deals make the wages of American workers lower, while just 11% say they lead to higher wages.”
“In addition, trade agreements continue to be seen as doing more to cost jobs than create them. In the new survey, 46% say free trade agreements lead to job losses in the United States; just 17% say they create jobs in this country,” the Pew report adds.
Ryan has been the architect of Obamatrade in the House—similar to the role Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who also agree with Ryan on immigration, played in the Senate—pushing it every step of the way. What Ryan, a handful of Democrats and most establishment Republicans want to do is pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which would fast-track trade deals for the next six years—including specifically the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that’s already mostly prenegotiated with several countries around the Pacific Rim, including Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.
“TPA will bring transparency to the negotiating table and hold the administration accountable, all while bringing better jobs and higher wages to American workers,” Ryan’s press release on Thursday argues.
For what it’s worth, those poll-tested talking points are lifted directly from slides that GOP pollster Frank Luntz pushed out—which Breitbart News exposed earlier in the Obamatrade debate.
The argument that Obamatrade would make this whole process more transparent—Ryan’s newest argument—was perhaps ironically already debunked by the U.S. Senate debate last week.
Despite the fact the Senate passed Obamatrade on a rushed timeline authored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, some Senate Republicans and pretty much all Democrats banded together to expose the lack of said “transparency” on this matter. Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Rand Paul (R-KY) from the Republican side explained how closed the process is, while Democrats including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) actually pushed for a bill that would have made the TPP text public now, before TPA fast-track is granted.
At this point, members Congress must go to a private room in order to read and review the text. They can’t even take notes out of the room or discuss what is in the agreement with the public—and only key staffers with certain high-level clearances are allowed in.
When Hatch, who worked with Rubio to get the Obamatrade fast-track through the Senate, objected, their push for real transparency failed.
“We’re just asking for some transparency before we have this crucial vote,” Warren on the Senate floor.
Warren said the public has heard a lot about the trade bill, but haven’t had a chance to see it. The press hasn’t had the opportunity to see it, and neither has economists or legal experts.
“We should keep the deal secret because if the details were made public now, the public would oppose it,” mocked Warren. “Well, that’s not how our democracy is supposed to work.
Ryan, the 2012 Vice Presidential nominee, has seen a quick fall from grace as a top Republican Party leader.
While the establishment of the party still rallies around him, conservatives are increasingly displeased with the direction he is pushing them to go—and in fact, on this very battle, rank-and-file Republicans may prove they don’t need Ryan to tell them what to do. And for good reason: Ryan has frequently been willing to mislead his colleagues in his own party. He did it on the budget deal he struck last Congress with then Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), he did with the so-called “doc fix” Medicare payment system this Congress and he’s certainly done it with immigration.
As Breitbart News previously reported, several House Republicans—including Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Dave Brat (R-VA) and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)—have been building a firewall against Obamatrade, just like they did when Ryan tried to get them to back to the Senate’s amnesty bill from Rubio last Congress.
It’s unclear as of yet whether they’ll be successful in stopping this from getting rushed through Congress, but it’s interesting to see the same coalitions of members that existed on the immigration battle last Congress emerging anew. House Speaker John Boehner has Ryan’s back on Obamatrade, just as he does with amnesty, but it’s looking more and more as if the establishment will fail on Obamatrade as it did on immigration.
Trade may also play a role in key races next year. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) may find herself in a really tough spot after voting for Obamatrade. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), another trade yes vote, is also facing a tough battle in a swing state.
If the House passes this legislation, Obamatrade would be a top Democrat talking point, putting more pressure on Sens. Ayotte and Portman. Democrats would be able to claim those lawmakers voted to outsource American jobs.
After 14 Senate Republicans backed the Rubio-Schumer Senate immigration bill last Congress—under pressure from the same people pushing Obamatrade now, who used the argument then that failure to legislatively pass an amnesty would doom the Republican Party—the House turned around and rejected the push for amnesty, even though Ryan pushed hard for it. Instead of the imminent destruction of Republicans that amnesty pushers predicted, however, the GOP sailed to massive victories by hammering away at President Obama’s support for immigration policies contained in Rubio’s bill.
Breitbart News reached out to Ryan for comment on this story, but received no response.
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