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Where Should Conservatives Stand On Trade Promotion Authority?

Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan

Last night Rep. Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee appeared on Fox News and did a masterful job of promoting the idea of Congress granting the President Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or what used to be called “Fast Track” authority to negotiate international trade deals.

Paul Ryan’s pitch was trade deals are good for the economy, good for job creation and good for American international competitiveness and that when we have a trade agreement with a country we tend to have a trade surplus, when we don’t have one we tend to have a trade deficit.

So why the discomfort on the Right with giving President Obama the same kind of Trade Promotion Authority Congress gave President George W. Bush?

Part of it is that “giving” Obama power that he doesn’t already have is a bit like giving the “Choom Gang” a key of pot, they’re not going to smoke just one joint, and Obama certainly will abuse any further power, to say to expand foreign worker visas, that he is given by Congress.

And then there is the conservative populist discomfort with “globalism,” “internationalism,” and anything that smacks of “corporatism.”

Pat Buchanan, in an article for our friends at WND laid out the case against TPA this way:

Pressure for fast track is coming from two sources.

First, the editorial pages of papers like the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post that truckle to the transnational corporations that provide the advertising revenue stream keeping them alive.

Second, Obama is relying on congressional Republicans who, for all their bravado about defying his usurpations, know on which side their bread is buttered. It’s the Wall Street-K Street side.

Fast track is the GOP payoff to its bundlers and big donors.

Pat Buchanan further pointed out that due to our huge trade imbalance with China, Japan and other Asian nations “We are a dependent nation now.”

Where once wages rose inexorably in America and the middle class seemed ever to expand, we read today about income inequality, the growing gap between rich and poor, and wage stagnation says Buchanan.

Did $11 trillion in trade deficits since Bush I have anything to do with this? Or do we think that the 55,000 factories and 5-6 million manufacturing jobs that went missing in the first decade of this new century had no connection to those huge trade deficits?

Is there a link perhaps between all those factories closing in the USA and all those factories opening in China, or between a U.S. average annual growth rate of 1.8 percent since the turn of the century, and a Chinese average annual growth rate of around 10 percent, Buchanan asked?

Pat Buchanan’s arguments are by the way echoed by far-Left Democrats, such as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont’s small “s” socialist Senator Bernie Sanders.

Even Senator Harry Reid, generally a Democratic supporter of Big Business, is opposed,  “You couldn’t find a person to ask this question who feels more negatively about it than I do,” the Nevada Democrat told reporters referring to TPA provisions that would set up up-or-down votes on trade deals with Asia and Europe without amendment. “Not only no, but hell no.”

But the criticisms of Pat Buchanan, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Harry Reid don’t address the essential question their complaints raise – if your beef against TPA is our current trade imbalance how do you fix it?

Senator Ted Cruz, who just yesterday came out in favor of TPA made the case this way in an op-ed entitled “Putting Congress in Charge on Trade” penned with Paul Ryan for today’s Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. economy is one of the most open in the world—and for good reason. Thanks to lower duties on imports, the average American family saves $13,600 a year, according to a study by HSBC. But other countries put up trade barriers that drive up prices for U.S. goods and services and make it hard to sell them there.

The American worker can compete with anybody, if given a fair chance. If you add up all 20 countries that the U.S. has a trade agreement with, American manufacturers run a $50 billion trade surplus with them. The problem is that not all countries have a trade agreement with the U.S.; American manufacturers run a $500 billion trade deficit with those nations. That is why the U.S. needs effective trade agreements to lay down fair and strong rules that level the playing field. Without such rules, America’s trading partners will keep stacking the deck against job creators in this country.

Answering objections that TPA cedes more congressional power to President Obama, Cruz points out – correctly – that this is not true of the legislation about to come to a vote in Congress.

Under TPA, Congress lays out three basic requirements for the administration. First, it must pursue nearly 150 specific negotiating objectives, like beefing up protections for U.S. intellectual property or eliminating kickbacks for government-owned firms. Second, the administration must consult regularly with Congress and meet high transparency standards.

And third, before anything becomes law, Congress gets the final say. The Constitution vests all legislative power in Congress. So TPA makes it clear that Congress—and only Congress—can change U.S. law. If the administration meets all the requirements, Congress will give the agreement an up-or-down vote. But if the administration fails, Congress can hit the brakes, cancel the vote and stop the agreement.

Cruz and Ryan frame the closing argument for proceeding with TPA this way: China is negotiating agreements with anyone who will listen—from South Korea and Australia to Norway. And it isn’t free enterprise the Chinese are pushing. Instead, it is their own form of crony capitalism. They’re writing rules that favor government-owned firms and hamper American job creators. So it all comes down to this question: Is China going to write the rules of the global economy, or is the United States?

Employment peaked in the 1950s in many of the industries Pat Buchanan and the Democrats are trying to protect and trying to go back to an economy based on heavy manufacturing and manual labor is a populist fantasy more appropriate to a pick-up truck commercial than today’s knowledge and information economy.

Asking the question “is there cause and effect between trade deals and a perceived decline in American manufacturing,” as Pat Buchanan does, is not the same as answering the question “how do we create more jobs and economic vitality in the United States?” It would be a major error of both economic understanding and conservative principle to conflate those two questions.

Please be sure to take our Daily Debate poll and tell us what you think about TPA.

Click this link to read Pat Buchanan's's op-ed opposed to TPA on 

Click this link to read the Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan op-ed in favor of TPA in The Wall Street Journal

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Where should conservatives stand on trade promotion authority

You vastly understated the amount of jobs that the transnational/multinational corporations have transfered to Communist China, India, Mexico, etc., etc., etc. In only twenty years, Communist China has come from a commie slave rate labor country to a fascist cooly rate labor country. We can thank the REPUBLICAN party for China's extremely rapid growth into an economic rival. And you feel the need to ask : "Where should conservatives stand on trade promotions authoriety"(?). I beleive that over a hundred million jobs have been transferred/created in the foreign countries by transnational corportations (even though they're charted in US States) Last year, China consumed as much concrete that we use in a year in only 12 days. What does that tell you ? Today, China, with its newfound republican supplied wealth is on a tare to build up its military (because it can afford to). The prostitutes of the GOP want to confer upon ANY president an ability to rapidly approve international trade deals. BTW, these trade 'deals' are always a one-way transfer of manufacturing jobs out of the country and deficits into the country.


P.S. Nailing Obama down to "rules" is like trying to nail jello to the wail. If he won't follow Constitutional law, what make anybody thing he will follow the "rules" of TPP???????? This is like the Charles Schultz cartoon of watching Lucy pull the football out from under Charlie more time!!!!! Do not give the football to B.O.....please.

Giving the Obamster More Power??? ARE YOU KIDDING??

Give Barrack Hussein Obama more power????? ARE YOU KIDDING????? What a totally insane plan. Ryan and Cruz need to be put in straight jackets and hauled off to an asylum. Buchanan is a hero for opposing this nuttiness. One has to wonder how many Republican leaders now are being blackmailed for "sexual indiscretions"?? As a friend of mine in D.C. once said....."The other side has pictures!" Terms limits looking better every day. What if Hillary Clinton has an accident like Mr. Breitbart after the Primary and Obama has to step in and run for a third term? A lot can happen in this atmosphere of political weirdness.


Cruz has dropped down below Paul on my presidential preference list. GOP is trying to give open immigration to K Street without having to vote on it. That is even better than think yes vote no that Thune likes so much.