Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The fast-track picture is coming into focus

I’m sure you’ve worked a jigsaw puzzle before. You know how it goes. You find a little piece of an eye then you find the other pieces around the eye. You branch out and connect an ear and another eye and pretty soon you start to make out the whole face.

Such is how it is with this fast-track Obamatrade legislation. This is the bill that’s so secretive that members of the senate are only allowed to view it in a secret chamber where they can’t make copies or take notes. It’s a trade bill. Why all the secrecy?

The face of this trade bill is starting to reveal itself, albeit slowly. I’ve been scratching my head wondering why the president would need broader power in negotiating trade agreements and why one of those agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would be so secretive. 

President Obama and advocates of TPP in Congress — both Democrat and Republican — have touted the bill as a way to beat China in international trade. That has a lot of appeal on both sides of the aisle. Trouble is, Obama has admitted that China wants to become a part of the deal and he’s in talks with them to do just that. Such contradictions don’t slow down TPP water-carriers like Republican Congressman Mimi Walters who seemed unfazed by the contradiction.

But that’s exactly where the problem with fast track authority lies. Of course, we don’t know the specific language since we, the people, are not allowed to see the bill, but some who have paint a disturbing picture. They say that Obama — or any future president — can negotiate a trade deal like TPP, get it approved by Congress then add a country like China after the fact. If that’s true, it’s doubtful that many congressmen would support it but they don’t know what’s in the bill. Even Congressman Walters, who’s running point for John Boehner and the leadership, admits she hasn’t read the bill.

This is unprecedented. George W. Bush, at the start of his presidency, asked for fast-track authority but he released a draft text of the deal. Perhaps Obama learned from that and realizes secrecy is his ally. Can’t blame him for trying but I do blame Republicans for trusting him. This is a president we can’t trust with the power he already has. With the wave of his pen he tried to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens until the courts, not Congress, stopped him. He signed his own Obamacare legislation into law then unconstitutionally picked and chose portions to either delay or modify or ignore. And they want to give this guy more power in trade deals? With a bill that the vast majority of Congress hasn’t even read?

I don’t think so.

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has written a letter to the House leadership urging them to delay a vote on fast-track legislation until the text of the bill has been made public. Seems like a reasonable request. He points out that the “Living Agreement” authority inside the bill is what’s so troublesome. This “Living Agreement” would allow Obama and TPP signatories to add other countries to the agreement without having to seek approval from Congress. Now you know why this thing is being kept locked up behind closed doors. If the American people ever got a load of that there’s no way this thing would pass.

Why Republicans in Congress don’t see this is beyond me. Is it true? Is there really a “Living Agreement” provision inside the bill? Let us read the bill.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

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