Thursday, August 18, 2011

Right Now, ctd.

For the last several weeks, I've been hoping that someone in the US business community would speak out against the President's repeated, and utterly disingenuous, calls on Congress to pass pending FTAs with Korea, Panama and Colombia "right now."  This unfortunate talking point was something I decried last month when President Obama first starting using it, and, finally, a business leader (J. Patrick Boyle, President and CEO of the American Meat Institute) has done the same in The Hill today:
Passing trade deals is something that “Congress can do right now,” remarked President Obama Monday at a town hall meeting in Cannon Falls, Minnesota.

Not so fast. The truth is that Congress can’t do anything on free trade agreements “right now,” because the President has yet to send the agreements to Congress for final approval, despite receiving recommendations on the agreements from Congress on July 7.

The President often mentions that in January 2009 he inherited a very difficult economic environment. He also inherited three negotiated and signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia and Panama. The only step left for the Obama administration was to submit the agreements to Congress for ratification: a step yet to be taken.

But that is something the president could and should do “right now.”

The President likes to talk about “creating jobs and stimulating the rural economy.” If the administration continues to sit on these trade agreements, as it has since President Obama took office more than two and a half years ago, then Congress will be left in the “do nothing” position on free trade agreements, having never been afforded the opportunity by the Obama administration to ratify the pacts that will expand U.S. trade opportunities abroad and create more jobs at home.

Results of an impact study coordinated by the American Meat Institute highlight the high opportunity costs and job creation potential at home resulting from full implementation of these FTAs. Our study found that passage and implementation of the Korean, Colombian and Panamanian FTAs would represent an additional $2.3 billion in exports and create 29,524 badly needed jobs here at home. Many of these jobs are in rural areas of the U.S. where prospects of true economic development are seldom presented.

Not only is this roadblock hindering job creation, it’s also causing U.S. farmers, ranchers and food processors continual loss of global market share to our competitors, such as the European Union, Canada and Australia.

In his speech, the President noted that, “There is no shortage of ideas to put people to work right now. What is needed is action on the part of Congress…”

In terms of passing these trade agreements, truly creating jobs and growing the rural economy, the ball is in your court, Mr. President.
Excellent stuff and kudos to Mr. Boyle for having the courage to call the President's, ahem, bluff.  Meanwhile, FoxNews recently ran a great piece on the broader harms caused by the White House's continued failure to submit these deals to Congress:

Of course, the President's supporters and cynical political strategists (often-redundant terms, I know) might argue that the White House's continued delay of these FTAs and other free trade policies are simply the political price that he has to pay in order to ensure that anti-trade American labor unions don't abandon him during the 2012 presidential election.  Except, well, that argument is dead wrong:
Organized labor won't sit out President Obama's reelection campaign and let a Republican win the presidency, the AFL-CIO's political director said Wednesday.

Despite the frustration labor activists have expressed toward the administration for the deals it has cut with congressional Republicans, Obama is still a better alternative to a potential Republican president, said Michael Podhorzer, the labor federation's top politics officer.

"I don't think that the labor movement will be on the sidelines with President Obama," he said in a sit-down interview with The Hill Wednesday.

Podhorzer said that the union is likely to announce this fall that it's creating a so-called "super-PAC" that can spend and receive unlimited amounts of campaign donations. Podhorzer said the labor federation has been limited by election laws to contacting just its own members but that with a super-PAC, the AFL-CIO can expand its outreach to non-union voters as well....

But the union could still send a message to Democrats by boycotting the party's 2012 convention in Charlotte, which some AFL-CIO affiliates are considering, according to an Associated Press report last week. The union's governing council will monitor the situation, Podhorzer said, and make a decision largely "determined by what the Democratic Party does between now and the end of the year."...

Though unhappy with the president at times, the AFL-CIO will likely go through its formal process sometime next year to officially endorse Obama, considering his GOP opponents.
Sure, he's getting a super-PAC, union votes and organized labor's vaunted get-out-the-vote "ground game," but the AFL-CIO might boycott the 2012 Convention due to the President's failure to achieve Total Labor Victory during his first term.  That'll show him, guys.  Way to stick to your, ahem, guns.

So, yeah, it's no wonder the White House has bagged the FTAs at the expense of American exporters and consumers.  We wouldn't want the unions to boycott the White House Christmas Party too, now would we?

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