Obama: Democratic Critics of His Trade Agenda Are ‘Wrong’

22 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Obama: Elizabeth Warren ‘wrong’ in opposing trade deal.

Tuesday at a a hearing on U.S. trade policy and the fast-track trade authority bill, long-time ally of President Barack Obama, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka testified that the fast track process is “unaccountable and un-democratic,” especially in light of the administration “willfully ignoring” Congress in the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) over the last five years. America’s new defense secretary, Ashton Carter, likes to joke that a free-trade pact with Asia would be “as important to me as another aircraft carrier.” His larger point is that economic cooperation can be a powerful peacekeeper. But she’s wrong on this,” Obama says in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, scheduled to air Tuesday night. “I would not be doing this trade deal if I did not think it was good for the middle class. The U.S. is negotiating with 11 other nations over a Trans Pacific Partnership agreement that aims to create a free trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region.

The New York Times reports “key congressional leaders agreed on Thursday on legislation to give President Obama special authority to finish negotiating one of the world’s largest trade accords, opening a rare battle that aligns the president with Republicans against a broad coalition of Democrats.” Fast track authority would allow a bill to be introduced, with no opportunity to amend it, then it would get special protections virtually assuring passage. It’s the latest salvo in the continuing confrontation between the President and his party’s left flank, which remains staunchly opposed to legislation that would give Obama the authority to fast-track trade deals — like the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership — through Congress with minimal interference from lawmakers.

Chairman, the idea that fast track lets Congress set the terms and standards and goals for TPP—I’m not talking about other agreements, but for TPP—is an absolute fiction. While leaders in Congress reached a tentative deal on the measure last week, that hasn’t stopped congressional Democrats from voicing their skepticism.

Warren joined a handful of other Democratic lawmakers and union and environmental activists last week in a rally outside the Capitol against the fast-track legislation, and has said the agreement is “going to help the rich get richer and leave everyone else behind.” Democratic Rep. The economic benefits or drawbacks of free trade to Americans will be hotly debated as President Obama makes a strong push for passage of the measure, known as trade promotion authority. Congress cannot set meaningful negotiating objectives if the administration’s already negotiated most of the key provisions.” He continued, “The administration has ignored Congress’ direct instructions to negotiate meaningful currency provisions and to reform the flawed investor state dispute settlement process. However, all parties should reject signing a trade agreement that might allow a country with some serious political problems to get wedged into this deal.

Yet given the world history of war as a means for economic gain, lawmakers should support the expansion of trade competition as a welcome substitute for the violence of war. In his press conference on Friday, Obama used Japan as an example for why a trade deal with Asia is necessary to ensure American products can compete in the world’s markets. “Now, the last time I checked, if you drive around Washington, there are a whole bunch of Japanese cars,” Obama said. “You go to Tokyo and count how many Chryslers and GM and Ford cars there are.” “So the current situation is not working for us,” he added. “And I don’t know why it is that folks would be opposed to us opening up the Japanese market more for U.S. autos, or U.S. beef.

Ensure Congress has effective opportunities to strip expedited consideration provisions from trade deals that fail to meet congressional objectives or to incorporate congressional and public participation.” It doesn’t make any sense.” The issue of trade has become a point of contention on the 2016 campaign trail, where some potential Democratic contenders are using the issue to draw a sharper distinction between themselves and front-runner Hillary Clinton. “Bad trade deals have sent American jobs and American profits abroad,” former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said at a speech on Thursday. “We must stop entering into bad trade deals-bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership-that hurt middle-class wages and ship middle-class jobs overseas. People increasingly controlled their impulses and sought to cooperate with their neighbors.” Or look at the increasing role of economic sanctions – rather than armed conflict – such as those used against Russia and Iran for their military aggressiveness. If you look at South Korea’s recent record on immigration, human rights and sex trafficking you would have to put the breaks on any deal that allows them easy access until they change.

A United Nations special investigation into Republic of Korea (South Korea) human rights abuses provides a view of conditions suffered by a variety of groups, from migrant laborers and immigrant families from the Philippines, Vietnam, China and elsewhere in South Asia, to Korean women and children. Special Rapporteur Mutuma Ruteere found in October of 2014 what he deemed serious problems in South Korea that range from discriminatory exploitation and maltreatment to racist, verbal abuse. And it is a continuation of the decades of peace and stability anchored by a strong American role, in which all Asia-Pacific countries continue to rise and prosper, including China.” He adds that peace and prosperity in Asia will be the coming generation’s “central strategic challenge.” The world’s long-held hope for peace has relied on finding alternatives to war that allow people to both compete and cooperate, such as in cultural expression, the Olympics, or space exploration.

In addition, and clearly my favorite statistics because of its absurdity, 31.3% of South Koreans said they do not accept different religions while only 3.4% of people answered the same in the United States. The Korea Herald reports “Korea also has a discriminatory policy against those who wish to immigrate to the country from specific countries, including China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Thailand.” In the farming and fishing industries the treatment of migrant workers is downright shameful even though both industries, in many ways, are reliant on a migrant workforce. Amnesty International also issued a report in October 2014 presenting evidence the exploitation and widespread use of forced migrant labor in the agricultural sector.

It is important not to set up a scenario where member countries are forced to rubber stamp a long and complicated deal that provides South Korea with preferential treatment while we are aware of the serious human rights crisis in the country.

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