President Obama and his GOP pals are in full spin mode trying to get Congress to sign off on giving Obama “fast track” power.
Congress must approve fast track in order to expedite the TransPacific Partnership (TTP), a sweeping international regulatory agreement with 11 countries in Latin America and Asia.
We must move as quickly as possible, they say, or else China will make a deal with these countries and “write the rules” instead of us.
There’s only one problem with what they’re saying: Like so much of what comes from the mouths of politicians, it’s a big fat lie.
The truth is, the administration has invited China into the coalition that’s supposed to contain it.
TPP includes a “docking provision” that would allow other countries to join the pact in the future. While TPP’s shills say the deal is crucial to keeping China in a box, William Craft, deputy assistant secretary of state for trade policy, said in March “We’re certainly not doing this as an anti-Chinese thing,” and went even further, adding, “We can foresee them joining it.”
Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., are outraged that Communist China, a country “with a history of currency manipulation, intellectual property theft, and failure to abide by existing global trade norms” could become party to this deal – “without prior congressional approval and oversight.”
The senators are asking the Obama administration’s chief dissembler to Congress, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, for answers.
They want to know if China is excluded from joining the TPP and if the addition of new members will be subject to congressional oversight or approval.
Fast track, or Trade Promotion Authority, which the GOP leadership is ready to give Obama, would strip Congress of its ability to vet or amend the TPP agreement he has been secretly negotiating for the last six years. Congress would be limited to a simple up-or-down vote.
“In the event that this administration, or a future president, decides to add China to TPP, will Congress be limited to a simple up-or-down vote, without amendment, on the decision to have a free trade agreement with China?” Tillis and Peters asked.
Instead of an answer, they got eyewash from Trevor Kincaid, deputy assistant U.S. trade representative for public and media affairs, the Washington Free Beacon reports. “TPP is intended to be a platform for regional integration that will grow as other interested countries are added who can demonstrate their readiness to meet the ambition and high standards of the agreement,” Kincaid said in a canned statement.
And the reality of the TransPacific Partnership is even more complicated than a “docking provision.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions tells radio host John Fredericks the TPP “explicitly talks about this is going to be a living document so the treaty’s signatories are able to change it at any time if we authorize this to go forward.”
So here’s what we know so far:
We’re told TPP is imperative to contain the rising economic and military power of China. (Obviously, Congress can thoroughly trust Obama to do this on his own, without full hearings and oversight, and without changing one word of the treaty he has been negotiating unilaterally and secretly for six years.)
But China could actually become part of the agreement that is supposed to contain it.
And the countries that are in the agreement can change it after it goes into effect.
And we don’t know what role Congress will have in approving future members or changes in the agreement.
In advance of answering these questions or examining the final agreement, Congress is being asked to surrender its ability to change as much as one word of it, and to lower the threshold needed to approve it from two-thirds of the Senate to 51 votes.
What could possibly go wrong?
As Sen. Sessions said, “Frankly, we’re ceding way too much power to a president who’s already taken too much power over the Congress and the American people.”