12 June 2015

Obama Loses Trade Vote in House ……… and There Was Much Rejoicing

It's confusing, but basically the House of Representatives overwhelmingly rejected a key portion of the Fast Track process, and I am doing a happy dance.
Hours after President Obama made a dramatic, personal appeal for support, House Democrats on Friday thwarted his push to expand trade negotiating power — and quite likely his chance to secure a legacy-defining accord spanning the Pacific Ocean.

In a remarkable blow to a president they have backed so resolutely, House Democrats voted to end assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has supported for four decades. That move effectively scuttled legislation granting the president trade promotion authority — the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress.

“We want a better deal for America’s workers,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader, who has guided the president’s agenda for two terms and was personally lobbied by Mr. Obama until the last minute.

The vote that prevented the president from obtaining trade promotional authority now imperils the more sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade agreement with 11 other nations along the Pacific Ocean that affects 40 percent of the global economy on goods ranging from running shoes to computers.


The Democratic revolt left Republican leaders trying to summon support from their own party for trade adjustment assistance, a program they have long derided as a waste of money and a concession to organized labor. Eighty-six Republicans voted for the program, more than double the 40 Democrats who supported it. But the trade adjustment assistance bill failed when 126 voted for it and 303 against.

Republican leaders then passed, in a 219-to-211 vote, a stand-alone bill that would grant the president the trade negotiating authority he sought. But that measure cannot go to the president for his signature because the Senate version of the legislative package combined both trade adjustment and trade promotion.

There is still a possibility that the House will pass the worker assistance bill early next week and send to Mr. Obama, but it would require dozens of Republicans or Democrats changing their votes, a prospect Republicans said was remote.
It's kind of tough to understand what is going on here, but here is how this was supposed work:
  • In order to pass Trade Promotion Authority (aka TPA or Fast Track), Congress needs to pass displaced worker aid, which provides funds for transition and retraining, for people displaced as a result offshoring
  • Because the Republicans are insisting on offsets for this costs, this measure includes a minuscule cut to Medicare.
  • Fast Track is supposed to be passed.
  • Because Democrats are unwilling to cut Medicare, Democrats were promised a vote to reinstate the Medicare funding.  (but no guarantee that it would pass)
Here's the kicker:  There were never more than 80 or so Republicans who were willing to support aid to displaced workers, which meant that something like ¾ of the Democratic Caucus need to vote for it, and it meant voting for a Medicare cut, which would have been used by Republicans in the 2016 campaign, just like they did in 2010 over Obamacare.

Additionally, as was observed by Gaius Publius, (the blogger, not the Roman Historian), "Supporting NAFTA Was the Kiss of Death for Democrats — Why Dems Should Think Twice About Voting for TPP."

Much like Obamacare, Obama is shivving his own party in the hopes of his "legacy", but this time, they get it, and unlike Obamacare, the TPP, TTIP, and TiSA actually make things worse ……… A lot worse.

They are designed to facilitate the privatization of government functions, encourage IP based rent seeking, and to promote the parasitic financialization of the involved countries.

I am tremendously happy that Obama has lost this, but I expect him to come back again to try and get fast track authority again.

Keep dialing your Congress critters.


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