It’s a lazy Friday in June on the 2016 trail. Starting Monday, when Jeb Bush announces his candidacy, we’ll have more to talk about. Until then, there is the matter of the trade legislation working it’s way through congress. This topic makes my eyes bleed but we can at least look at where the candidate stand.

There are two items at play here so I’ll attempt to explain a little background. The first is called the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which is what the House will be voting on today since it has already been passed by the Senate. This legislation gives the President the authority to negotiate trade deals at a much more rapid pace, then offer the proposal to congress for an up or down vote. This would essentially renew and extend the practice which has been in place for many years. Proponents argue that this would help the United States become more competitive by giving the President the means to negotiate deals more rapidly.

The second item, and perhaps the controversial point, is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This partnership is a new free trade agreement with twelve countries throughout Asia and is totally separate from the vote on the TPP. The TPA deal has not been finalized and will not be voted on for some time.

The US Senate took up the matter of the TPA, back on May 22 of this year, when the bill passed 62 to 37, with 1 not voting. Of the US Senators running for president, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Ted Cruz all voted in favor of the TPA fast-track authority. Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders voted against it.

Scott Walker:

Walker, Bloomberg’s Halperin and John McCormick wrote, “expressed agreement with President Barack Obama on the pressing issue of fast-track trade legislation.”

“Walker said he supports giving Obama the authority to submit trade agreements to Congress for an expedited, up-or-down vote without amendments,” they wrote, before quoting Walker himself.

“If we don’t go down this path, we’re going to be at a competitive disadvantage, and so I think it just makes sense,” Walker said.

Ted Cruz:

“TPA is what the Senate voted on recently. I voted in favor of fast track because I support free trade. I think free trade benefits America. It creates jobs — opening markets to our farmers, to our ranchers, to our manufacturers, improves economic growth. In Texas alone, roughly 3 million jobs depend on international trade.

“And if you support free trade, the only way history has shown free trade agreements get negotiated is through fast track.

“Now there is a second issue which has caused a great deal of confusion and that is TPP…it is one specific trade deal that is being negotiated. It is separate from TPA. Congress has not voted on TPP, and there’s a great deal of concern about TPP.

“Now, I have not voted on TPP, and I haven’t decided if I will support it or not, because the negotiation isn’t complete, and I’m going to wait and revie

Rand Paul:

Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul says he will oppose granting President Obama fast-track authority.

Paul expressed frustration about the lack of access to the text of a massive Asia-Pacific trade agreement in explaining why he would oppose fast-track, which is backed by Republican leaders in the House and Senate.

“I’ve told leadership I’m a ‘no’ vote” on trade promotion authority,” Paul said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire.
“I’m hesitant to give blanket authority on stuff we haven’t seen,” he said.

Fast-track would allow Obama to send the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal to Congress for an up-or-down vote. Without the authority, it is possible the trade negotiations will not even be concluded.

But Paul criticized the administration for not giving out more details about the agreement.

He suggested he could end up voting for the trade deal, but said that he would not back fast-track since the TPP “is being held under lock and key.”

Martin O’Malley: (addressing only the TPP)

While touring Alpha Loft, a business incubator, Mr. O’Malley said the latest Trans-Pacific Partnership looked to be a bad deal.

“I’m opposed to T.P.P.,” Mr. O’Malley said. “I don’t know where she stands on that.”

Mr. O’Malley went on to explain that chasing inexpensive labor abroad is not the way to strengthen the United States economy and that doing so is a “falsehood” that Americans need to wake up to. He also used the opportunity to tweak Mrs. Clinton over her previous support of North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, which some critics have said was bad for the economy.

“There are many that had high hopes for Nafta back when we did that,” he said. “Instead it caused a lot of dislocation.”

Bernie Sanders: (addressing the TPP, he voted against TPA)

“I don’t understand how, on an issue of such huge consequence, you don’t have an opinion,” Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who launched a bid for Democratic nomination earlier this year, told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.

The Vermont lawmaker is an outspoken opponent of the trade deal, known as the Trans Pacific Partnership. Clinton, who spoke in favor of giving President Barack Obama authority to negotiate a sweeping trade deal with Asian countries while she was serving as his secretary of state, has demurred about taking a stand on the legislation now before Congress.

Donald Trump: (addressing the TPP)

The outspoken businessman, who is known to start brawls on Twitter, sent out a series of tweets explaining his opposition.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an attack on America’s business. It does not stop Japan’s currency manipulation. This is a bad deal,” he said.

The U.S. government has been negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) since 2009 with 11 other nations, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Chile, Canada and Mexico.

The topic of trade always cuts across party lines since there are many competing interests involved in these deals.


  1. The thing that’s unique about a trade deal is that it’s about the only topic that is not totally predictable.

    If someone says he is a conservative or a liberal, you can usually tell THEM what their stands are on every issue. But trade scrambles the field.

    It is humorous to see Walker and Cruz agree with the president. Rand objects, due to the “fast track” detail, which takes review out of the hands of the senate. O’Malley and Sanders don’t like it, since they feel it’s unfair to workers. Trump doesn’t like it, since he feels it’s unfair to business.

    I figure whatever happens will happen, no matter what I say, so I don’t care. Anybody here care?

    • Like I said.. eyes bleeding.. Do I care? Yeah. But it’s such a conglomerate of competing interests that the only one without a voice in the matter is typically the average citizen.

  2. Well Donny, I can’t I know much about your claim of Japan manipulating their currency, but China’s is well-known and is starting to bite them. To the extent that there’s a barrier in global trade today, it comes from currency manipulation by countries wanting to keep their exports cheap. The TPP has no currency provisions.

    That said, free-trade agreements have an awful record in the U.S. viz job creation, safety, and pretty much any promise ever made. Laws have literally been overturned for interfering with profit? Wtf is up with that? Under the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), corporations can sue sovereign governments for monetary damages for violating trade agreements that hurt the company’s “expected future profits.”

    Even third-party countries have curtailed regulations in reaction to ISDS rulings, as New Zealand did with their cigarette packaging law, awaiting the outcome of a dispute between the tobacco industry and Australia; a suit that continues despite an initial victory for Australia.

    The deal is actually more about building up barriers than taking them down. Much of TPP is devoted to increasing copyright and patent protections for prescription drugs and Hollywood media content.

    Guess who benefits from that?

    Even Mexico got screwed with NAFTA with literally tons of graft, lousy, unsafe working conditions (even for Mexico), skyrocketing industrial pollution, etc. Virtually the only beneficiaries are multinationals, their owners, boardmembers, and stockholders.

    For more on how much good free trade has done the U.S. go to:

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