The House of Representatives failed to pass TPP at the end of last week. The House barely voted to give the President fast track authority and then in an overwhelming vote, they failed to pass a measure that would have given displaced workers retraining.
The TPP stands for the trans pacific trade partnership.
It was a blow to President Obama and the result is that he is officially a lame duck President. A President officially becomes a lame duck when his own party repudiates a major bill that any President advocates and puts his political capital and prestige on the line.
It was a major victory for organized labor, as the threat to deny political donations to democrats worked. Labor unions are not a fan of trade agreements. Sometimes in their attempts to save jobs, they temporarily prop up jobs that America can not compete in any longer. The specter of protectionism has raised its ugly head.
So-called progressives were sold a bill of goods that had them believing that secrecy was a problem with the ongoing trade negotiations. You would think that Progressives would acknowledge that no agreement whether it be a treaty or a trade agreement can ever be agreed to in the light of day because of nationalism. Nationalism is still is a powerful force in the world. Each of the 12 nations involved would have a problem with their own citizens if they knew that they were bargaining away any current trade advantage such as tariffs in the negotiations.
To be honest some democrats have a problem with realizing that globalization is a reality that we can not change. Others fail to recognize that there are losers and winners in any trade deal. Agreements necessitate giving in on some issues and standing up for what will be most advantageous for American jobs and business on other issues.
Progressives are happy because this measure was defeated. They have never been happy with the President’s unwillingness to stand on principle and use the bully pulpit to bring victory to more left wing positions that could not have gotten the required votes in Congress in the first place.
Senator Elizabeth Warren was a persuasive voice in arguing that the arbitration process that has existed since the end of World War II was the reason we should say no to the TPP. She argued that members of corporations who sit on the arbitration board make decisions against the public interest for the sake of profits sacrificing the public interest for profits. Her examples were accurate, but where were the suggestions to fix the arbitration process?
What is interesting to note is the failure of the media or any of the political pundits to mention that some of our closest allies are part of the 12 nation group. Nations such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan are part of TPP, and where were their complaints about the ongoing negotiations? If the deal is so bad for everyone where was the beef from our allies?
Republicans once again proved that their primary focus is to defeat anything that this President, President Obama proposes. Republicans pretend to be for free trade and free enterprise. They hold a substantial numerical advantage in the House of Representatives, but they failed to once again muster their votes to be able to pass anything.
In this whole process there are three winners, unions who do not like trade deals of any kind as they see their workers lose jobs to foreign countries, second, China, who was not part of the 12 country trade negotiations, and President Obama haters who are overjoyed at his defeat.
Who lost? The American worker lost. For areas that Americans compete well in, such as medical devises and American made cars and others, the tariffs and restrictions on the sale of our goods abroad will continue. Exports pay well and we still produce things the world will buy if there is no tariff on them. Exports represent job growth.
The current failure of Congress to deal with another major issue shows once again the fact that our government is completely dysfunctional.
Perhaps a trade agreement can still be worked out either during this Presidency or during the next President’s term. The political reality is that President Obama is now a lame duck president. He may still be successful on some foreign policy issue but domestically he has lost what political capital he had left.
As far as the Republican led Congress, they still have not shown any ability to get things done. The summer recess is coming up and then the fall session will give Congress their last chance to accomplish anything. Next year is an election year. Democracy is messy, but the failure of TPP raises the question of whether any President or any Congress can resolve any issue.