Democrats Speak Out Against Obama's Trade Agenda
January 20, 2015
In Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, President Barack is expected to ask for help from the Congress on granting him fast track authority for negotiated trade deals. However, he won’t be receiving it from many Democrats.
Led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D., Ct.), in a conference call Tuesday morning Democratic members shared that granting the President fast track authority through Trade Promotion Authority would be a “mistake” and past trade accord history shows that the U.S. continues to lose jobs, has not decreased its trade surplus, and labor standards are unable to be upheld.
Every president who has negotiated a trade deal for the U.S. has had the authority to present it to Congress with only an up or down vote, without the ability to amend or change the agreement.
Rep. Bobby Scott (D., Va.) said that whatever language is in the estimated 1,000 page Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and any other future trade deal that comes forward, Congress would not be able to “strengthen it to make it more meaningful” if TPA is in place.
DeLauro, who is said to be drumming up much of the Democrat dissent on trade, said the currently negotiated TPP will continue to accelerate the loss of jobs overseas. She stated that the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea exploded by 50% and wages remain languished.
DeLauro, who is a staunch advocate for stricter food safety standards, also criticized that new trade deals would allow unregulated food products into the U.S. including seafood from Malaysia and Vietnam.
Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, also joined the Democrats in opposition to granting the President fast track authority. He shared that the goal of all trade agreements should be to balance trade, rather than urging for more trade.
“We get more imports than we export,” Johnson said, which leads to a 3-4% drag on GDP and directly impacts jobs. He added NFU is a champion of “transparency in the process” and also said currency manipulation should be addressed in any trade discussions.
Rep. Dan Lipinski (D., Ill.), who has served in the House for the past 10 years, said the Korea Free Trade Agreement promised 70,000 new jobs, but instead a total of 60,000 jobs have been lost and there is a 25% increase in the manufacturing trade deficit.
Lipinski said the White House is actively trying to make its case with members on why these trade agreements are going to be different than in the past.
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