The Huffington Post, from whom I borrowed the above chart makes the point that there is little partisan division on trade. Notice 50% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats think that foreign trade lowers wages. Also 51% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats say it leads to job loss. If anything Republican should be less eager to help Obama than the Democrats yet is was Boehner and Ryan who wanted to go to the mattresses in this gang war. The vote on TAA was hardly partisan. Yes, 86 Republicans voted for it but that is just a shade better than a third of their 246 seat majority. I have enjoyed very much the popular assertion that this was a stinging loss for Obama yet it was a loss for Boehner as well.
Again, I will make the comparison to TARP. This was not partisan warfare; it was gang warfare. This was the Beltway gang against middle America. For the Democrats opposition was merely constituency service for its special interests, namely Big Labor and Big Green but the Republican the motivation is more nuanced. That motivation is probably one part arrogance, one part politics, one part ideology. Couple that with an appalling lack of candor and flat out lying and one can see why the public was repulsed.
Let's deal with the political.
The Republican Party has always been the party of free trade.
False. The Republican Party used to be the party of high tariffs. It did very well at the polls with this position until it overplayed its hand with the passage of the Smoot–Hawley Tariff which went into effect in 1930 when the party was at the zenith of its power. At the very best Smoot-Hawley was counterproductive as it contributed to a global trade war and many believe exacerbated and prolonged the Depression. Experience is a great teacher and losing 5 consecutive presidential election made Republicans the freest of free traders.
Free trade will not cost American jobs. It will create American jobs. Then why TAA? What the hell does Trade Adjustment Assistance mean if not welfare for those who lose their jobs? There is more to it than that. There is assistance for farmer and rancher and even businesses that get the short end of the stick all of which should be academic if TPP had a chance of living up to its hype. We shouldn't have to tell Paul Ryan that free trade does not mean signing off blindly on a treaty of which trade is a component but which also includes freer immigration and more of Washington's precious copyright protection which carried to its logical extreme gives the manufacturer of any machine that is computer driven some rights to control of that machine for as long as it runs regardless of who owns it.
This gives Congress more power? True but over whom?
We will be able to pass or not pass TTP when the negotiations are complete. Just give us the authority to negotiate.
If we don't trust you now why are we apt to trust you when the treaty comes up for a vote?
There was a time when capital did not flow to every corner of the world and when a sophisticated and disciplined if not highly skilled workforce was essential to manufacturing but those days are long past. If the United States is not going to try to reclaim it superiority in manufacturing then where will it succeed and don't give us that service economy bullshit unless you are prepared to name the services and explain why the US will be dominant.
Congressman Ryan's Levi's come from Indonesia his iPhone comes from China and his television from Korea or somewhere in the Pacific yet he and Boehner and Obama want to expand trade? My point is this. That world is gone.
Not so much Boehner but Ryan and Obama are generally hyped in the media as being very forward looking and practical men of vision. But what vision? The world changed and they did not. I'll close with a quote from John Maynard Keynes;
Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.