Economy in Crisis alongside several other organizations such as the Coalition for the Prosperous America have hitting the Hill every other week to stop Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) from being granted to President Obama. TPA is essentially a blank check that Congress is handing over to the executive branch in order to pass trade agreements. Despite what proponents of TPA say, TPA limits Congresses ability to have a hand in trade negotiations. Not to mention the fact that they only get 90 days to review the text of the agreement and are subject to a simply up-or-down vote with no amendments whatsoever. The Senate approved TPA on Friday May 22nd 62-37 with one member not voting. The battle continues, however, as the bill approaches the House side next week.
The past week we spent time meeting with members on the House side of Congress. Although we had some great meetings with both GOP members as well as Democrats who are against forking over TPA to Obama, we met with members who simply don't care. There was one particular member from Michigan who straight up told us that their constituents are staunchly against TPA, but that they will still vote in favor of it.
Regardless, many of our sources have indicated that there simply aren't enough votes in favor of TPA for it to pass the House. Many news outlets have reported that there are between 60-80 GOP members against it and most Democrats are firmly against it.
This has not stopped the Chamber of Commerce, in fact, it has made them stronger. They have been hitting the Hill harder than us trying to sway members of the House to their favor. Their presence is so strong, that massive ad campaigns are being prepared to inundate D.C. and some parts in the U.S. with pro-TPA and pro-trade ads. One group in particular, The Progressive Coalition for American Jobs, has put forth over six figures behind these ads that will air in California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.
In addition, House Ways and Means Chairman, Paul Ryan (R-WI) and certain GOP leaders have turned to Tea-Party conservatives in order to rally support for TPA. Tea Party groups have been adamantly against TPA because TPA is a major blow to our sovereignty.
Why does Obama even want this kind of power? That is a great question. Obama needs TPA in order to pass massive trade agreements that he has already negotiated without Congress' oversight. One in particular is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which is a 12 nation agreement with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the U.S. Together, the countries encompass 40 percent of the global GDP. We are negotiating with countries, like Vietnam, that have their minimum wage set at 56 cents an hour. This is going to cause our companies to close up shop here in the U.S. and move production to these countries in order to save a buck or two on labor, and then ship the goods back into the U.S. You can kiss any good paying job goodbye if this trade agreement passes.
Not to mention the fact that we negotiating agreements with countries that manipulate their currency in order to make their products cheaper in the U.S., and U.S., exports expensive in their country. Japan is notorious for being a currency manipulator. In fact, the U.S.-Japan trade deficit reached an all time high in 2013, displacing 896,600 U.S. jobs.
What is worse is that the TPP text is classified which means you and I cannot read it. In fact, up until recently, our elected officials weren't allowed to read it either! EIC met with a House member a couple trips ago who asked USTR if he could attend a TPP negotiating meeting. He was told that he could attend by sitting outside in the hallway. Any time a member of Congress wants to go in and read the text, they have to make an appointment, remove all electronic devices when going inside the room, have a person over their shoulder watching them the entire time, and restricted from talking about the text, even with their own staffers.
The truth of the matter is that Economy in Crisis and groups that we are working with cannot fight alone. We are going up against a lot of money and a lot of pressure. We need your help! You must take a couple minutes from your day to call your House Representatives. You can find who it is by clicking here. Call them and tell them that you oppose TPA. This blank check is completely unconstitutional and granting too much power over to a president who has shown us that he cannot be trusted. How do we know that he has negotiated the best deal for America if he won't even let us see the text?