Lawrence Summers, former President Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary and a senior economic advisor to President Barack Obama, throws his support behind Obamatrade in an op-ed in the Washington Post, but concedes a major talking point from Republican leaders pushing it is untrue.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been arguing that Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – also referred to as fast-track trade authority – would give Congress more power over President Obama’s highly secretive trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).
However, Summers argued in his op-ed that if Obama isn’t given fast track and his trade agreements aren’t passed, the president would actually lose power over international negotiations.
“The repudiation of the TPP would neuter the U.S. presidency for the next 19 months,” Summers writes.
By saying Obama’s power would be neutered if Congress doesn’t grant him fast-track trade authority to quickly finalize his three trade agreements, Summers acknowledges that the president’s power to negotiate trade would increase – not decrease – as Republican leadership has been arguing.
For example, Ryan told Bloomberg News last week that TPA allows Congress more oversight and power during the president’s trade negotiations.
There’s a perception that the President will abuse the rules like he does on everything else, but we wrote this so much in a different way so that the President really can’t abuse the rules, so that there’s more transparency, so that we can see the text that’s being negotiated, so the country gets to see what these trade agreements are all about, and Congress sets what the parameters are. Congress says what needs to be in a trade agreement and, more importantly, what cannot be in the trade agreement, and Congress reserves the final power to decide whether or not we enter into a trade agreement with another country or not.
And just before the House of Representatives took its vote Friday afternoon, CNBC reported Ryan said: “This process brings more transparency and more accountability to how we consider trade agreements. And it gives Congress more control over the outcome of these trade agreements.”
But clearly, as even Summers—Obama’s National Economic Council director for the first years of his presidency—says, Ryan is incorrect in his primary argument about TPA giving Congress more power over Obama’s trade agreements. Summers is saying, essentially, that without TPA (among Obama’s other trade agreements) the U.S. president would lose power over international negotiations.
It’s also important to point out another talking point used by President Obama and the mainstream media that is in contrast with a public memo sent out to Congressmen by Republican leadership on Trade Adjustment Assistance.
Because of the way the bills were brought to the floor, the TAA program must be passed in order for TPA to go into effect, but the House overwhelmingly voted against TAA Friday – putting the passage of TPA on pause. Obama and many others pushing for TAA have argued that it’s a program designed for “job-training” for American workers.
“Right now, something called Trade Adjustment Assistance provides vital support, like job-training and community college education, to tens of thousands of American workers each year who were hurt by past trade deals – the kind we’re not going to repeat again,” Obama said during an interview with KVML.
But a memo sent explaining TAA to Representatives explains TAA more appropriately – a prepared welfare program for financial assistance for Americans who lose their jobs due to these impending trade agreements.
“The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs provide assistance to workers, firms, and farmers adversely affected by foreign trade. TAA has routinely been reauthorized alongside trade legislation and was last reauthorized in 2011,” the Congressional memo states, indicating TAA is needed to give financial aid to workers who will lose their job from TPP, TTIP and/or TiSA.
The memo continues, “The TAA reauthorization is part of a package that ensures taxpayers are paying no more than they do today, and it includes many important reforms to make the program more targeted, accountable, and efficient.”
However, Breitbart News previously reported the argument as to how TAA will be funded is controversial, as some experts say it does constitute a tax hike on small businesses.