Billionaire Donald Trump, the 2016 GOP presidential frontrunner, told Breitbart News exclusively that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “will vote for” Obamatrade “again” after the election—and would implement Obama’s trade agenda if elected president.
“Now, he’s going to vote for it again,” Trump said in a phone interview on Friday. “He’s going to vote for it again. He’s just waiting for after the election. He will vote for it—because the people who give him campaign contributions want it. He will vote for it right after the election.”
The first time that the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation came up in the U.S. Senate, back in the Spring of 2015, Cruz didn’t just vote for it. He championed the legislation’s cause publicly with a series of interviews, wrote a joint op-ed for the pro-Obamatrade Wall Street Journal with the initiative’s biggest congressional champion, now House Speaker Paul Ryan, and he very publicly challenged the initiative’s biggest conservative critic Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), saying in a radio interview in June 2015 that Sessions’ criticisms were “not accurate.”
Under incredible public pressure over the next few weeks, as the House of Representatives passed a different package of bills that attached Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)—a subsidy program that provides government benefits to those who lose their jobs because of open trade deals—and as that new package came back to the Senate for a new vote, Cruz shifted his position to oppose TPA.
TPA, or fast-track authority, is a change in the procedures Congress uses to ratify trade deals with foreign nations. TPA lowers the vote threshold for passage of a trade deal out of the U.S. Senate to just a simply majority—51 votes—killing the possibility for a filibuster. It also eliminates the ability for Congress to amend any such trade deals.
Given the fact that passage of TPA essentially guarantees the eventual passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), and Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)—among other trade deals—by lowering that Senate vote threshold and eliminating the ability for amendments, Sessions at the time argued that voting for TPA was voting for TPP and all these other deals, because it will be virtually impossible to stop them because a majority of senators will need to oppose them. Collectively —TPA along with each of the deals that it would fast-track — the whole free trade package has become known as “Obamatrade.”
To be clear, Cruz says he opposes TPP—and hasn’t taken a position on TiSA or T-TIP—but his prior support for TPA paved the way to keep TPP alive. He also, in that original op-ed with Ryan in the Wall Street Journal, praised TPP as an “historic” agreement.
Cruz didn’t just vote for TPA the first time — and then oppose it the second go-around, publishing an op-ed on Breitbart News the morning of the vote and making hardly any effort to stop its passage the second time around — but he also voted down an amendment that would have blocked the Chinese and other nations from engaging in currency manipulation.
Cruz was one of 51 senators who voted against the amendment, from Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), that would have ensured that it was “a principal negotiating objective of the United States to address currency manipulation in trade agreements.”
Trump told Breitbart News that he thinks Cruz’s vote against the currency manipulation blocking amendment from his fellow Republican, Portman, is more disastrous than his original support for Obamatrade’s TPA. Trump said:
To me, that amendment is more important than the deal itself. With the currency manipulation and currency devaluation, that’s how nations are killing us around the world in trade—and he was singlehandedly responsible for stopping that amendment from being passed. Had that amendment been put in, it wouldn’t have been a good deal—but it would have been a much better deal than it is now. There’s no way this country can compete with those nations in the TPP because of the fact there’s no currency manipulation restriction.
This Trump interview with Breitbart News focused on Obamatrade — a key facet of his presidential campaign, as the issue is something he has addressed in nearly every single speech and interview and debate, even when unprompted — comes as Cruz has aimed to make it appear as though he stands with American workers when it comes to trade, despite his history on the issue. As Breitbart News reported on Thursday, a new ad from Cruz airing in Wisconsin makes the case that he stands for “fair trade”—not “free trade”—because the trade deals he previously backed harm American workers’ job prospects. It’s a particularly bold move from Cruz as it shifts the conversation — in Obamatrade champion Paul Ryan’s backyard — back to Trump’s signature policy issue, in which Cruz is aiming to prove to voters his viewpoint: That he thinks he’s better than Trump on trade.
Trump isn’t buying it, as he told Breitbart News—and made clear via Twitter—that he thinks Cruz is way behind him on the issue.
Trump said in his interview on Friday:
Can you believe that Ted Cruz, who has been killing our country on trade for so long, just put out a Wisconsin ad talking about trade?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2016
Ted Cruz is so far behind me in trade that he put a phony ad talking about how he’s going to get tough on trade. Number one, he’s in favor of the Trans Pacific Partnership—which is going to be worse than NAFTA. And it’s going to absolutely destroy businesses in our country and businesses in Wisconsin. Ted Cruz is totally controlled by the people that give him money. If you look at who those people are, those are the beneficiaries—not the people of Wisconsin or the people of the United States.
Trump also made clear that voters in Wisconsin need to consider the impact of voting for someone who may sell out American workers on trade policy—especially as Wisconsinites are currently seeing thousands of workers statewide lose jobs to closing factories. He specifically argued that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has endorsed Cruz and also supports Obamatrade, lost his early sweeping momentum in the 2016 GOP presidential primary race—and dropped out before a single state voted—because of his support for Obamatrade policies.
Specifically, in Wisconsin alone, several U.S. manufacturing and other plants are shutting down. A General Motors production plant in Janesville, Wisconsin—Ryan’s hometown, where he still lives—shut down in 2009. At its peak it employed 7,000 workers. Now, though, GM is making at least one line of Buick cars in China—then importing them into the United States—with plans for more Chinese-made General Motors vehicles.
GM is hardly the only Wisconsin company that’s closing down U.S. operations. In October, Dairy Farmers of America announced it would close a Plymouth, Wisconsin, cheese factory—and lay off the 304 workers there—according to the Sheboygan Press local newspaper. Oscar Mayer is announcing it will close a Madison, Wisconsin, plant after it produced hot dogs there for a century. General Electric last year announced it is closing facilities in Wisconsin—and reopening them in Canada. There’s plenty more.
“Wisconsin is losing tremendous amounts of business and the voters are not yet aware of it,” Trump told Breitbart News. “The reason the governor dropped out of the presidential race so quickly—like lightning—was because I brought up the fact that they have massive deficits and they’re losing their businesses. Once I brought up that fact, and once it was confirmed by the media and by the voters, he was gone—he was out of the presidential election.”
This week, in the middle of the heated primary in Wisconsin, Cruz left the campaign trail to head out to Southern California for not just an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night comedy show but also a high dollar fundraiser with his newest backers, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and $1,000-a-plate high-rollers. When asked to explain his comment earlier in the interview about how Cruz is controlled by donors—a line of attack he’s used against Bush and others to great success—Trump told Breitbart News that the reason why Bush, Walker, Fiorina and more are backing Cruz instead of him is because he drove them all out of the race.
“Jeb Bush can’t endorse me. Walker can’t endorse me. Carly can’t endorse me,” Trump said. “They’re all out of the race because of me. They’re all out of the race because of me. I’m honored to have Ben Carson and Chris Christie—two terrific people—but Walker’s out of the race. I exposed Walker and all the companies that are leaving Wisconsin and the fact that he’s in favor of TPP. He’s in favor of it too, right?”
Walker came out in favor of Obamatrade’s TPA at a critical moment last year. Right as it was starting to lose support significantly, Walker came out publicly backing TPA—helping his fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan shepherd it through Congress. Trump said Obamatrade would destroy Wisconsin in a worse way than the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“TPP will be worse for Wisconsin than NAFTA,” Trump told Breitbart News. “Now, speaking of that—not only Cruz but Kasich voted for NAFTA. He voted for it.”