Wednesday, June 17, 2015

TPP: Hammer time!

Here we go on the free trade merry-go-round again. Please grab your hammer and join me for the ride, won't you?
Let me explain:
Last Friday, the Trade Adjustment Assistance portion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership bill received a 302-126 thrashing in the House. Although Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) passed 219-210, action on the Trans-Pacific Partnership bill cannot go ahead. The TAA is connected to the TPA which is connected to the TPP. If one falls, it all crashes down.
What sense it made to approve TPA while rejecting TAA is beyond me, but my guess is that the TAA concerned welfare to labor in the event that they will—not might, will—lose their jobs and was a sticking point for Big Labor. TPA is about giving the President authority to negotiate and proceed with trade agreements, something the House is almost evenly divided on. That passed by only eight votes.
The options now available for TPP are for a House and Senate conference to strike the TAA from the bill or for John Boehner to allow a reconsideration vote on the TAA. This last option was supposed to have taken place last night, but in a fashion all-too-typical of the political elite, the House instead voted to delay the second TAA vote for a while, possibly for as long as six weeks.
You guessed it. Their refusal to let this beast die gives Obama and his donor sycophants and cronies many chances to try to flip the tens of dozens of votes needed to pass the stinker and shoe-horn it in before the August recess. Isn't this fun?
It's apparent to everyone by now that John Boehner Bonehead and Mitch Squish McConnell are the respective kings of the RINOs in their chambers. They are the President's puppy dogs. They care about nothing more than being regarded by the Prez in the same way that the Prez regards Bo. A scritch here, a scritch there. Doesn't help that Bonehead is so plastered on a routine basis that he'd roll over for anyone as long as they didn't have principles.
What is super amazing to me is that the TAA got shot down by the wrong people: Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, et al. The hard-Left progressives. More Republicans voted against TAA than did Democrats (158-144), but more Republicans also voted for TAA than did Democrats (86-40). We had Paul Ryan, usually a stand-up guy, arguing passionately in favor of passing TAA, thus the entire trade bill. Bad enough he was one of the most useless veep candidates in modern American history, a puppet who just stood there going "ah der der der" in response to attacks by Obama and the Democrats. He now wants to save Barry Hussein's skin. What have the Dems got on this man?
Then there's Ted Cruz, who has set himself up as a warrior for free trade. During an interview with Jeff Kuhner on WRKO in Boston, Cruz spoke in defense of the TAA/TPA/TPP.
"I fully understand because we do not trust this President and because, idiotically, the text is secret," Cruz said. "People are naturally believing it does all of these terrible things."
Terrible things. Y'know, like giving up American sovereignty and allowing for foreign committees to make binding law in the U.S., impacting our labor, immigration and environmental policies.
I feel bad for Cruz, because I do believe he's an honest guy, and I would like to take him at face value on this subject. He means well, and he tried so hard to convince us that we can trust him on the trade bill, citing the following:
When I was the Solicitor-General of Texas, the chief lawyer for the state of Texas, I stood up and fought the World Court and the United Nations which had issued an order to the United States to re-open the convictions of fifty-one murderers, and I went before the U.S. Supreme Court. On the other side was the World Court, was the United Nations, were 90 foreign nations and was the President of the United States who, I would note, unfortunately, was a Republican—George W. Bush—and I stood up to my own party and to the World Court and the U.N., defending U.S. sovereignty and we won 6-3. And the Supreme Court rightly concluded that World Court and the United Nations have no authority to bind the United States, and the President of the United States has no authority to give up our sovereignty. So when it comes to defending sovereignty, there is no-one who has fought the fight longer or harder than I have, or more successfully.
Cruz also said, "[W]orking men and women have been hammered across this country." What the ...?  He isn't referring to a countrywide trend that the current Speaker of the House inspired. Does this remind anyone of another politician? Say, Fauxcahontas, who once said that the middle class in this country was getting hammered? "Hammered" had to be one of the most overused words of 2012. Every Democrat used the word as if it was a vital part of some sonnet they were composing in that foul election year. Why was the senator from Texas channelling his inner Elizabeth Warren?
But here's the thing: If Elizabeth Warren was to walk by me on the street today, I'd give her a high-five. Actually, I'd ask her what she was doing in London first. Then, I'd high-five her. Cruz, though I give him props for finally clarifying his position with Kuhner during the hours before the vote, would get a dressing down from me.
Cruz gets it partly right when he says that free trade is not the central issue as to why job opportunities have not materialized nationwide. "You want to know why we've got job losses?" Cruz asked Kuhner. "We've got job losses because of Obamacare. We've got job losses because of crippling regulations. We've got job losses because of zealots in the Obama EPA that are destroying small businesses, that are hammering jobs."
If I had a hammer ... I'd use it to knock out every single member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the people who have bought off our lawmakers and own them, lock, stock and barrel. 

The real hammering involved when it comes to the TPP *
The (Un-)Affordable Health Care Act and powerful anti-business regulations have crippled job creation in the U.S., no doubt about it. But I don't buy for one moment all the job creation that the White House claims will flourish in the wake of the passage of TPP. I cringe to hear Cruz parroting the same line.
We've had free trade agreements up the ying-yang for twenty-five years now. NAFTA, GATT, CAFTA. TAFTA, a free trade treaty with the EU, and TPP are currently being discussed. Every time you turn around, there's yet another alphabet soup-like acronym for a free trade agreement in the news and it's always the same story: We've gotta pass this for jobs and for prosperity and for our standard of living.
And what have we got to show for it, even long before Obamacare went into effect? A decline in jobs, a decline in prosperity, a decline in our standard of living. All we have is an outsourcing of jobs and labor. You have to consider yourself lucky if your salary stagnates or even decreases given the alternative. These are the robust trappings of free trade that our political class expects us to support prostrate ourselves for?
Free trade used to be simple. I have something I want to sell you. You have something you want to sell me. We agree to lower import and export fees to deliver our stuff to each other. If you renege on your agreement to lower tarriffs, then we bring this before an impartial trade commission, an authority to declare decisions on trade policy and trade policy only. We settle our dispute without trumping other laws or meddling too much in the affairs of either of our people.
Let's dial up the spirit of Adam Smith and see if he agrees with the highfalutin, overreaching, bureaucratic, New World Order-style garbage that makes up the text of so much of our current FTAs (free trade agreements). Something tells me he would not only disapprove but blow a gasket.
Oh yeah, the text: I beseech thee to not forget that it was a complete secret, as Cruz said. Locked away in a room in the basement of Capitol Hill. Lawmakers who wanted to read it had to sign in, sign out and promise not to leak to the press or anyone else what they read. Jeff Sessions read all 800 pages. So did Rand Paul. Cruz read a bit. Now, who do you trust? Sessions and Paul who say this bill is dangerous or Cruz who glosses over the devil in the details and declares free trade ├╝ber alles?
Sorry, Senator Cruz, but it is not Mr. Sessions who is misrepresenting the TPP.
This is an issue on which I'll happily side with the far-Left. They want it defeated for labor and environmental reasons. So do I. I also want it defeated for nationalist reasons. I'm sick of the sovereignty that our elites constantly chip away at and of jobs disappearing and being replaced by welfare dependency and bureaucracy. That is all that free trade has given us.
Show me a genuine free trade agreement. Not a treaty. An agreement, containing no by-laws or stipulations or anything else pertaining to other areas of American law or policy, and then we'll talk.
Until then, SCREW "free trade" and screw anyone who defends this monster. That includes you, Ted Cruz. You have the right to your opinion.  Just don't expect me to fall in line with it like a good li'l citizen peon.  I assure you, I will not.
Take your hammer and nail that one to the wall.

* Illustration from The Wall (1982). Animation by Gerald Scarfe.

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