TPA – Poison Pill or Vitamin Pill for Free Trade?

BREAKING NEWS – Monday, June 8, 2015 from breitbart.com/big-government – Breitbart reports today that Rep. Duncan Hunter has requested the House Majority Leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, to delay voting on any fast-track authority  usually called the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for the President, until the President makes public all information and text related to the proposed, new economic union known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as well as the so-called Living Agreement Authority (LAA).

Rep. Hunter’s concerns include:

  • The ability of the President and members of the TPP to change the membership after the agreement is adopted.  For example, China might be allowed to join the TPP, without the approval of Congress.
  • The ability of the President and members of the TPP to change the terms of the agreement under the Living Agreement Authority, without the approval of Congress.
  • The ability of the TPP Commission to create a new international governance structure that could cede U. S. interests to other nations, bypassing America’s Constitution.
  • New information released last week by the President on the new international governance structure.

##### END OF BREAKING NEWS #####

TPA or Trade Promotion Authority is currently being debated across America.  A vote in the House is expected this week or next week.  It’s about as controversial and confusing a subject as any national issue gets with conservatives and progressives all over the map.  Some support it.  Some reject it.  It definitely does not follow standard party lines.  What’s going on with TPA?  Is it a poison pill or a vitamin pill for Free Trade?  Let’s look at this issue now …

What is TPA or Trade Promotion Authority?

Trade Promotion Authority is legislation originally created by Congress in the early 1970’s that authorizes the president to negotiate trade agreements with other nations.  If the president negotiates a trade agreement, the president is required to send it to Congress for an up-or-down vote within a limited period of time.  The up-or-down voting process does not allow any amendments to the trade agreement prior to the vote.  It’s a straight up-or-down vote.

Currently, TPA has expired and Congress must re-enact a new TPA or fast-track authority for the administration to continue moving ahead on other new trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The Senate has already passed TPA by a vote of 62-37 on May 22, 2015.  The upcoming controversial vote is expected in the next week or two in the House.

If TPA Passes the House, What Comes Next?

The answer is a veritable alphabet soup of possible new trade agreements with potentially dramatic impact on our freedoms and our economy.  How great an impact depends on who you believe and how good you are at guessing the secret terms in some of these super secret agreements.  First, let’s look at the possible new trade agreements coming:

  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – A secret agreement among about a dozen countries in the Pacific region that include the U. S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Malaysia, Brunei Darrussalam, Singapore and Vietnam that focuses on trade among the partners.
  • Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) - An agreement among 23 countries that include U. S., Canada, Mexico, Israel, European Union, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Turkey, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Chile, Columbia and Costa Rica that focuses on services.
  • Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) – An agreement between the U. S. and the European Union.

Is TPA and the Rest of the Alphabet Soup a Vitamin Pill for Free Trade?

That’s essentially what the supporters of TPA and TPP say.  Supporters include the administration and many Free Trade conservatives in the House and the Senate. Supporters tout more jobs, greater market access, resolution of trade issues, etc.  They are projecting a motherhood and apple pie story, with virtually no mention of any real problems.

Of course, in general, Free Trade is a great thing for economic growth.  I have written about it in my writings.  But, Free Trade should be open, honest and transparent.  More than one Free Trade advocate has asked the question: Why must the TPP agreement be super secret with virtually no one seeing the details?  You have to wonder if there are terms in the agreement than many would disagree with, like forced climate change regulations.

In my newest book Renewing America and It’s Heritage of Freedom in Chapter 4, I discuss the morality of laws.  I use as my main reference the Treatise on Law written by St. Thomas Aquinas.  For any law to be moral and valid it must be “promulgated” that is published or announced or communicated to its citizens.  I think TPP fails for lack of transparency.  It’s really the same reason why ObamaCare continues to fail as a moral and valid law.  ObamaTrade is just like ObamaCare.

What’s the harm in letting everyone knows what’s in ObamaTrade, if TPP is such a wonderful agreement?  Celebrate it.  Don’t hide it in the basement.

Is TPA and the Rest of the Alphabet Soup a Poison Pill for Free Trade?

It’s hard to tell what the actual terms and conditions are in TPP.  But, here’s a sampling of concerns from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):

  • It might extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws.
  • It might harm freedom of speech, right to privacy, due process, and the ability to innovate.
  • It might require copyright restrictions far greater than existing international treaties.
  • It might require all countries to conform their laws to the agreement’s regulations.
  • It might create new threats to journalists.
  • It might hinder whistleblowers.
  • It might adopt criminal sanctions for copyright infringements.

Other issues raised by opponents include:

  • It might create complex and expensive global climate regulations.
  • It might permit currency manipulations.
  • It might not protect worker’s rights.
  • It might not provide adequate safety regulations.
  • It might not protect consumers adequately.
  • It bypasses Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution that clearly states that “The Congress shall have Power … To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations”.  In effect, it might bypass the treaty approval power from the Senate to the president.

For More Information

For more information, please read my newest book Renewing America and It’s Heritage of Freedom.


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