"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Democrat Leaders Opposing Obama On Trade Agreements

September 26th, 2011 by J. Jonah Jameson · No Comments

The Hill reports today, “The White House and Democratic leaders in Congress are at odds over three pending trade deals that President Obama is poised to send to Capitol Hill. Throughout the summer, Obama has been making the case that the trade accords with Colombia, South Korea and Panama will help the ailing economy by creating jobs. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) disagree. . . . Reid has vowed to vote against all three deals when they arrive on the Senate floor, possibly as early as next month. ‘I am not a big fan of free-trade agreements,’ Reid said on the Senate floor in June. ‘My voting record is in accordance with that.’ . . . Reid, a strong supporter of organized labor, lines up with the views of the AFL-CIO . . . .  Pelosi, too, has added her skepticism about the number of jobs that could be created by the trade deals. ‘The White House may support it, but the Congress may have a different view,’ Pelosi said last month.”

The trade deals have languished for years because of opposition from Democrats. All three have been waiting for congressional approval since the Bush administration negotiated them. When she was Speaker of the House, Pelosi deep-sixed the Colombia agreement, and never moved the other two. And The Hill notes, “The president pushed for and made changes to all three agreements — less than what he proposed during his 2008 run — but that hasn’t quelled concerns from rank-and-file Democrats over passage of the deals.”

Despite opposition from Democrats, President Obama has been pushing for approval of the trade deals. Unfortunately, they remain sitting on his desk at the White House. The administration had indicated that first Trade Adjustment Assistance needed to be reauthorized, which the Senate approved last week. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell explained last week, “The White House asked for a ‘path forward’ on Trade Adjustment Assistance in exchange for sending these deals up to Congress, and we gave it to them.  I can’t say I’m happy about that-–this is a program that I and many Republican members have serious questions about. . . . Both parties in the Senate have acted in good faith to move this process forward.  Now, it’s the President’s turn.”

Yet today’s story in The Hill suggests Democrat leaders may be attempting to move the goal posts again. According to The Hill, “Even Obama’s push to renew the worker-assistance program hasn’t diminished the opposition from some Democrats and organized labor who have deemed the trade deals ‘job killers.’” The story points out, “Last month, in a speech to the United Steelworkers, Pelosi said China’s currency manipulation must be addressed before sending the trade deals up to Capitol Hill: ‘If you want to bring those trade agreements to the floor of Congress you better be prepared first to let us bring our bill on China’s manipulation of its currency, which is unfair to America’s workers.’ Reid last Tuesday also addressed the currency issue: ‘The first major jobs bill we’re going to have is send a message to the Chinese, where we’ve lost 2.8 million jobs during the last eight years, and that is we’re going to do something about Chinese currency. And we’re going to do that quickly.’” However, the White House opposes the bill, so it would be odd for the president to continue to hold trade agreements he supports over a bill he opposes.

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