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“The Left Is So Wrong On Trade”: Playing A 78 rpm Record In The Age Of Digital Downloads

The left’s success in denying President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership is ugly to behold. The case put forth by a showboating Sen. Elizabeth Warren — that Obama cannot be trusted to make a deal in the interests of American workers — is almost worse than wrong. It is irrelevant.

The Senate Democrats who turned on Obama are playing a 78 rpm record in the age of digital downloads.

Did you hear their ally, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, the day after the Senate vote? He denounced TPP for being “patterned after CAFTA and NAFTA.” That’s not so, but never mind.

There’s this skip on the vinyl record that the North American Free Trade Agreement destroyed American manufacturing. To see how wrong that is, simply walk through any Walmart or Target and look for all those “made in Mexico” labels. You won’t find many. But you’ll see “made in China” everywhere.

Many of the jobs that did go to Mexico would have otherwise left for low-wage Asian countries. Even Mexico lost manufacturing work to China.

And what can you say about the close-to-insane obsession with CAFTA? The partners in the 2005 Central American Free Trade Agreement — five mostly impoverished Central American countries plus the Dominican Republic — had a combined economy equal to that of New Haven, Connecticut.

(By the way, less than 10 percent of the AFL-CIO’s membership is now in manufacturing.)

It’s undeniable that American manufacturing workers have suffered terrible job losses. We could never compete with pennies-an-hour wages. Those low-skilled jobs are not coming back. But we have other things to sell in the global marketplace.

In Washington state, for example, exports of everything from apples to airplanes have soared 40 percent over four years, to total nearly $91 billion in 2014, according to The Seattle Times. About 2 in 5 jobs there are now tied to trade.

Small wonder that Sen. Ron Wyden, a liberal Democrat from neighboring Oregon, has strongly supported fast-track authority.

Some liberals oddly complain that American efforts to strengthen intellectual property laws in trade deals protect the profits of U.S. entertainment and tech companies. What’s wrong with that? Should the fruits of America’s creativity (that’s labor, too) be open to plundering and piracy?

One of TPP’s main goals is to help the higher-wage partners compete with China. (The 12 countries taking part include the likes of Japan, Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, and New Zealand.) In any case, Congress would get to vote the finished product up or down, so it isn’t as if the public wouldn’t get a say.

But then we have Warren stating with a straight face that handing negotiating authority to Obama would “give Republicans the very tool they need to dismantle Dodd-Frank.”

Huh? Obama swatted down the remark as wild, hypothetical speculation, noting he engaged in a “massive” fight with Wall Street to get the reforms passed. “And then I sign a provision that would unravel it?” he told political writer Matt Bai.

“This is not a partisan issue,” Warren insisted. Yes, in a twisted way, the hard left’s fixation over big corporations has joined the right’s determination to undermine Obama at every pass.

Trade agreements have a thousand moving parts. The U.S. can’t negotiate with the other countries if various domestic interests are pouncing on the details. That’s why every president has been given fast-track authority over the past 80 years or so.

Except Obama.

It sure is hard to be an intelligent leader in this country.

 

By: Froma Harrop, Loeb Award Finalist for Economic Commentary in 2004 and 2011, Scripps Howard Award Finalist for Commentary in 2010; The National Memo, May 14, 2015

May 15, 2015 - Posted by | Congress, Fast Track Authority, Trans Pacific Partnership | , , , , , , , , ,

9 Comments »

  1. I don’t know enough that I can form an opinion on TPPA., but I gravitate more towards NO…. simply because there’s no accounting for big businesses greed. They will move their businesses, lock, stock and barrel to any place where they can pay 50c an hour as minimum wage. However, I just realzed that NAFTA means North American Free Trade Alliance ( or is it Authority ? ) but even so, Mexico lost to China. We have to take note that the US is not the only country where workers have lost their jobs to China. I was surprised t the Rosary That I bought at the Vatican was made in China ! ! O_O

    Like

    Comment by renxkyoko | May 17, 2015 | Reply

  2. Evidently Froma Harrop is not from Washington state. Quoting the Seattle Times is like quoting John Boehner! This newspaper has consistently printed “pro Republican” since it’s inception. Good grief, it endorsed John McCain and Mitt Romney for President!!

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    Comment by lrfalstad | May 15, 2015 | Reply

  3. I’m no economist, but I do claim a possession of a modicum of common sense. And common sense tells me that if TPP is so wonderful, why won’t Obama release the specifics to all? Why can the details only be read in a sealed room, with no cameras, staff, or other recording devices? Such behavior is not a confidence builder or a means of creating trust.

    Like

    Comment by Barneysday | May 15, 2015 | Reply

    • The process has been the same for the last 80 years. I think the idea of secrecy has been overblown and very misleading. The exception this time is the added Procedural Dissolution Process that allows Congress to accept, reject or amend the agreement

      Like

      Comment by raemd95 | May 15, 2015 | Reply

      • What has been misleading, if I may ask? Are or are not the details being kept secret? And if so, just because thats the way its been done for 80 years obviously doesn’t make it right, or prevent it from being changed now, does it?

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        Comment by Barneysday | May 15, 2015

      • The misleading aspect is that this “deal” is being made in a smoked filled back room by the Executive Branch of Government. That simply is not the case and in that respect, is misleading. For those who say this is being done in secrecy helps to lend an aura of something sinister occurring to purposefully undermine everyday Americans. As I noted earlier, the change has been the Procedural Dissolution Process which allows Congress to accept, reject or amend the agreement.

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        Comment by raemd95 | May 15, 2015

      • Thanks for taking the time to comment and sharing your thoughts. We obviously disagree about what constitutes an open and transparent government and the appearances thereof. In my humble opinion, understanding the details of a contract only after signing onto such contract is not a good way to conduct the country’s business.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Barneysday | May 16, 2015

      • I understand. We simply disagree on this issue. It doesn’t mean that either of us is right or wrong. I certainly appreciate your thoughts and for taking the time to share them.

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        Comment by raemd95 | May 16, 2015


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