It certainly has been interesting to watch the brinksmanship, legislative jujitsu and raw politics playing out over the last few weeks as Congress worked its magic and crammed more of the same trade policy down the public’s throat.
The arm twisting by President Obama and the Republican leadership in the House reached new heights. Pet projects were awarded for those who voted with the President and Republican leadership. Punishment was threatened for those who chose to vote with their constituents instead of the Obama/Ryan/Boehner cabal. Four Republican chairmen lost their positions because they voted with their constituents and against Ryan, Boehner and Obama. Also being threatened with loss of his position as President of the GOP freshman class is Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO-04). He voted against Fast Track because his constituents did not want it.
Angered by the hard-nosed pressure, Sen. Cruz said, “There’s too much corporate welfare, too much cronyism and corrupt deal-making, by the Washington cartel. For too long, career politicians in both parties have supported government of the lobbyist, by the lobbyist, and for the lobbyist – at the expense of the taxpayers. It’s a time for truth and a time to honor our commitments to the voters.”
Calls to members caused the Republican leadership to back off the retribution planned for the members who voted against them. The heavy handed pressure and cronyism was as intense as I have ever seen. In the end the Gestapo-like tactics worked and America’s small businesses and their workers lost again.
Our own Congressman Hardy has nothing to fear as he voted with President Obama just as his leadership warned him to do. He did this even though he campaigned here in Mesquite and elsewhere that he would stand firm against currency manipulation and bad trade deals. I understand the pressure a freshman congressman is under not to vote against his leadership but the fact remains many Freshmen Republicans stood with their constituents and took the consequences. Rep. Hardy did not.
While it’s been slow, the country has awakened to the fact that past trade deals have not produced the growth and job creation that were promised. Instead the opposite has occurred. America’s middle class and our economy were devastated by millions of lost jobs. The promotional trade agreements of today are simply re-runs of past agreements that failed to produce jobs. We’ve seen this movie before.
If the Republican leadership/Wall Street/Trans-National CEOs/Obama alliance REALLY wanted to fix the currency issue, why have they refused to do so for years? Obama could have done what Reagan did and address this with executive orders. Congress could have passed the Fair Currency Act languishing in committee for 6 years. Why doesn’t America insist that the WTO enforce their own rules regarding currency?
What about the American voter? Even though calls to members ran up to 7 to 1 against TPA, we got it rammed down our throats again. The bottom line is the voters were cut out of the process because we apparently don’t know what is good for us.
One wonders what impact Rep. Hardy’s vote on this legislation will have in the 2016 election. Most voters have short memories when it comes to this sort of thing and the negative effects will likely not be felt before the next election. However, the lack of jobs will go unanswered yet again and our economy won’t have changed much since Congress chose to stay the course on trade policy and, by their lack of action, have codified currency manipulation. Since we haven’t enforced the rules on trade for many years, foreign trade cheaters believe we no longer have the right to insist they play by the rules.
One of the main arguments by the Republican leadership was that we need TPA/TPP so that America can write the rules instead of China. Chairman Ryan mentioned this many times over the last few weeks. What good does it do to write rules if most of our largest trading partners ignore them?
This recent action by Congress makes it clear that what the voters want regarding trade policy doesn’t matter. Republicans were elected, in a wave election, to change the direction of the nation. Presented with a chance to do so with the most significant legislation in decades, the Republican leadership opted for the status quo. So we will see how voters respond to this Congressional snub in 2016.
Scotland, more than any other nation, has followed the U.S. lead on popular post-industrialism which considers the loss of manufacturing as progress. This helps explain the militant mindset of Scottish voters as they voted a third party into power in their recent general election. The insurgent Scottish National Party enjoyed close to a clean sweep.
This will thereby gravely weaken the Labor party which had previously dominated Scottish politics for more than a century. Almost as much as the Conservative party, the Labor party has now come — finally — to be blamed for Scotland’s industrial implosion.
Americans haven’t decided which party to blame, yet.
This issue will remain a part of the 2016 Presidential campaign. Candidates like Donald Trump, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry are likely to keep this issue fresh in the minds of voters.
Frank Shannon served in the U.S. Army, was an engineering/operations manager for AT&T for 27 years, was the owner of a small manufacturing business for 23 years, served as Colorado Chair of the Coalition for a prosperous America and moved to Mesquite in 2013.