Friday, July 8, 2011

Right Now

There's an old joke that the definition of "chutzpah" is when a man kills his parents and then pleads for mercy on the grounds that he's an orphan. (Ba-dum-cha!)  Well, after President Obama's speech this morning on the dismal June jobs numbers, I think we have a new definition: when a President and his political party do everything in their power to stall four-year old US trade agreements and then publicly grouse about the deals' still-pending status.

In trying to deflect blame for the United States' continued inability to escape the doldrums of the 2009 recession (the worst "recovery" ever, by the way), the President stated today:
There are a few things that we can and should do, right now, to redouble our efforts on behalf of the American people.... Let me give you some examples.... Today, Congress can advance trade agreements that will help businesses sell more American-made goods and services to Asia and South America, supporting thousands of jobs here at home. That could be done right now.
Actually, Mr. President, that could have been done in 2008, had then-Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) not rewritten the longstanding congressional-executive agreement on Trade Promotion Authority (and "fast track" before that) when President Bush tried to implement the US-Colombia FTA.

And that could have been done in 2009, had you not shelved the FTAs in order to placate your party's protectionist wing.

And that could have been done in 2010, had you not demanded that each one be renegotiated in order to further stall the agreements and to pay off powerful domestic constituencies.

And that could have been done earlier this year, had you simply submitted the renegotiated FTAs' implementing legislation to a Republican-controlled House of Representatives that was literally begging for you to do so.

And that even could have been done last week, had you not attached a "poison pill" to the US-Korea FTA in the form of an expensive and highly controversial Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) expansion that congressional Republicans had already voted down in February and had repeatedly warned would be deal-killer.

And, despite all of this, Mr. President, you and Congress could still implement these FTAs right now if you would just submit clean FTA implementing legislation to the House and Senate pursuant to TPA.

So, what do you say, Mr. President?  How about we get on this?

Right now.

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