President Obama has rushed to Capitol Hill to personally push for passage of “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA for short.House Speaker Boehner tells Congress to vote for TPA.
The bill will give the executive branch the authority to negotiate trade treaties. It will seriously limit the role of Congress, limit it to 90 days of trade agreement review, prohibit any amendments on the implementing legislation, and give Congress either an up or down vote.
In the Senate, support for the bill was bought by the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP, which handed out $1,148,971 to senators, an average of $19,673.28 for Republicans and $9,689.23 for Democrats.
The largest donor to the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP is Goldman Sachs, followed closely by Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and members of the military industrial complex, including GE, Halliburton and Northrup Grumman.
Passage of the corporatist trade legislation is less than certain. While Republicans in the House are nearly unanimous in support of the bill, Democrats are holding out. Only about 20 or so of them support the bill pushed by the White House and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
House Minority Leader Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner have worked out a compromise to nudge Democrats who fear a backlash from constituents into voting for the legislation. It is called Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and would allegedly protect workers as transnational corporations continue to pillage industries and move jobs offshore.
In the early 1990s, the Clinton administration and Congress sold NAFTA to the American people with similar protective promises. Ultimately, according to Economic Policy Institute economist Robert Scott, nearly 700,000 US jobs were “lost or displaced” because of the agreement and the subsequent trade deficit.
The arcane world of Washington politics is now witnessing Pelosi pushing TAA while publicly denouncing TPA despite the fact TAA is designed to supposedly soften the blow of TPA once it becomes law.
Some Democrats, however, are not fooled by Pelosi’s sleight of hand and promise to destroy TAA and make sure TPA never makes it to the House floor.