The House of Representatives gave Bobo Obama a stunning defeat in his quest for a legacy item on Friday voting 302-126 to vote down something called the Trade Adjustment Assistance portion of the “fast-track” bill. Now, a lot of people think the house voted down the actual TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership). Actually, that part of the bill passed 219-211. What failed was a measure that allowed for the funding of the TPP, better known as the TAA (yeah…I know…I’m tired of acronyms too!). And since the Senate had already passed the bill, they have to start at square one again (or at least send whatever the GOP led House passes to a conference committee).
Apparently, the TPP isn’t dead after all. House Ways and Means committee chair, Paul Ryan has emphatically stated that they WILL pass this bill…they just have to figure out how to pay for it. My question is, that if this bill is so good for the country, why in God’s name are we having to “pay” for anything? Well, the Obama administration won’t admit it, but the TAA basically included a “welfare-like program” to be used to help people when they lose their jobs. Huh? Yup. Apparently, the administration realizes that what Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats that voted against it, as well as all of the unions, were right. People in America are going to lose their jobs on this one. Lots of people. And it’s going to be expensive to re-train them. And TAA was designed to introduce more government programs that would re-train displaced workers.
How would TAA be funded? By cutting benefits in Medicare, which also didn’t sit well with the Dems. But Paul Ryan and the GOP have come up with a solution. They’re going to break some campaign promises not to raise taxes, and they’ve taken the Medicare cuts off the table. Now they’re going to raise taxes on small businesses. They’re going to increase fees and penalties on businesses that mis-file their income tax returns.
So, why does Obama NEED to have this thing “fast-tracked”? Well, it’s happened before. When you “fast-track” a trade agreement, the president negotiates the agreement and then brings it to congress for approval. Normally, there are debates, and amendments that can bog down the treaty. Fast-tracking allows an up or down vote on the agreement as it is written. If someone doesn’t like a clause in there, you can’t change it, you can only vote for it or against it. That’s it.
Why has this particular bill in congress been so controversial? Because of the stuff that’s in it. Obama didn’t want to show the American people the Medicare cuts that would fund the trade authority. And he didn’t want to show them before the vote that the unions screaming about losing American jobs were absolutely right. By hiding those details until after it passed, he would have had an easier time getting it through congress, and would not have had to deal with the millions of calls to congressmen and women from their constituents telling them to vote against it.
So what happens now? Ryan is hoping to bring his new bill to the House floor sometime early this week. If it’s not there by tomorrow, chances are very good he won’t get the votes and the fast-tracking part of the bill will be dead. That means that Obama can still negotiate the trade agreement with he 40 countries or so. He just can’t get an up or down vote on it, and it could take months to wade its way through congress…if it makes it at all.
Is it dead? Nope. Is it a zombie? We’ll have to wait and see!
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!