Monday, April 28, 2014


The #Presidents trip did no go too well in negotiating a trade agreement in the Far East. It is a difficult thing that he and US Trade Rep, #Michael Froman were trying to accomplish, which was to establish a multilateral agreement aiming to promote trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. This Morning on #Morning Joe, MSNBC, congressional representative #Aaron Schock (R-Ill), leaked some revealing information. He was a guest on the program because of a social media picture he had posted, not to discuss politics. In passing, however, he made news when he said that he was a member of a delegation to Japan that Republicans designed to upstage President Obama’s visit.

Of course, this delegation was all one-sided with only one Democrat included so Republicans could tout it as “bipartisan”. Of course, Eric Cantor, House Majority leader and Paul Ryan, budget chairperson, planned the visit to be immediately ahead of the Presidents visit. It should not be surprising that this Cantor delegation met with the prime minister of Japan and the president of South Korea as well as key U.S. ambassadors in the region; exactly the same people the President met a few days later. You and I cannot know what Cantor and Ryan said in those meeting but we can guess; their message was do not negotiate with Obama because “we” have control of the House of Representatives and we will not approve any agreement he makes with you. A sweeping trade agreement would be a big victory, for him; “we” do not want Obama to accomplish anything no matter how good it is for the country. That has been their history for the past six years and there is no reason to suppose that they changed overnight.

It is a complex situation. There are two abbreviations bouncing around that add confusion. One is “TPP” meaning Trans pacific Partnership, which is short for Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement. The other is “TPA” standing for Trade Promotion Authority, popularly know as fast track authority. Under the Constitution, the President has the authority to negotiate treaties but the Congress has to approve them and amend them. TPA is a law, passed years ago after Congress refused to approve certain trade agreements; under that revised law Congress retained the right to approve treaties but not to amend them. In essences, it was a rewrite of the constitution. The TPA law has expired. It was in force from I974 to 1994 when it expired but was restored in 2002 and expired again in 2007.

Cantor and Ryan are in Japan and Korea for one reason and one reason only; to circumvent the law. Thus, their main objective is to prevent President Obama from negotiating an agreement; from having a victory. They are there to tell the leaders of all the foreign countries that Republicans will not give the President TPA (fast track authority); therefore, they will be able to pick apart and question every aspect of any agreement the president makes. These foreign leaders are unwilling to make any politically harmful concessions to the U.S. if there is a chance congress will not be ratified the treaty. Cantor and Ryan are there to tell them they the president does not have Fast Track Authority and that they will not give it to him. They have usurped the Constitutional authority of the president to negotiate an agreement even before they know what the agreement is. It is either all their way or no-way, no compromise: that is so Republican!    

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  1. Excellent analysis. But, I've got a slightly different slant on what transpired. The real issue isn't whether the tactic is legal since I'm sure that the $lawyers we pay for to help the politicians carefully maneuver that minefield will surely have pre-vetted the move. Nor is the issue a matter of fair play since neither party makes bipartisan a priority. I expect that the primary objective is to wrangle $deals that best benefit the needs of their respective $billionaires. I generally follow the $money. Elections require financial backing to succeed and our elected non-representatives need to parry about for their $benefactors in order to further justify that big campaign $contribution they expect to get. It is just another way that the underpaid and overtaxed citizens of this country can provide welfare to the most $wealthy. I'd be interested to know how much these trade negotiations are $costing us; transportation, accommodations, sumptuous meals, entertainment, needless excess personnel who just want a all expense paid vacation, etc. But again, great analysis and noted, the dig on all of the R team... like the D team never pulled such a stunt. Ha!

  2. You noted that the house has the authority to pass or not to pass TPA, therefore, the ball is in their court but they chose to take a course that would be the most harmful to the President before 2014 midterms..