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Arizona Senator Tells GOP Obama Needs Trade Powers

Flake: “Distaste for Mr. Obama isn’t enough to justify opposition to trade pacts that would raise U.S. living standards.”

by
Rodrigo Sermeño

Bio

December 21, 2013 - 12:08 am

WASHINGTON – Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) urged Republicans to set aside their distrust of President Obama and vote to give his administration trade-promotion powers to negotiate trade agreements.

“Republicans need to resist the temptation to buy the misleading narrative that TPA [trade promotion authority] would simply give away the store to the Obama administration,” Flake said at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday. “Distaste for Mr. Obama isn’t enough to justify opposition to trade pacts that would raise U.S. living standards.”

Flake said the best-case scenario is that Congress will turn its attention to trade in the next few months before the midterm election cycle begins.

“There’s little chance of positive outcomes on trade decisions when those decisions are made in the months just before November in an election year,” he said.

The Arizona Republican said that bilateral and regional free-trade agreements are more important than ever for economic competitiveness.

He cited many reasons why free trade makes the U.S. more competitive, including leveling the playing field for U.S. companies, promoting competition, and increasing access to foreign markets. But firms are not the only ones that reap the rewards of free trade, Flake added; consumers also benefit from access to cheaper products and workers gain from a more robust labor market.

“Free trade is one of the essential tools for creating jobs,” he said.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 95 percent of the world’s consumers are outside of U.S. borders. In addition, 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power and 92 percent of global economic growth lies outside of the U.S.

It is estimated that more than half of the goods imported into the U.S. each year are not final consumer products that American families buy at the store, but inputs used by companies that make final products in the U.S.

“Imports not only stretch dollars for consumers at the cash register; cheaper inputs also allow U.S. industry to be more globally competitive,” Flake said.

According to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, the United States is the world’s largest exporter and importer of goods and services, exporting nearly $2.2 trillion in goods and services last year. Nearly half of the nation’s exports go to its free-trade agreement partners and these countries comprise only one-tenth of the world’s economy.

Flake noted that approval of a major free-trade agreement without TPA has only happened once, when the Congress approved a bilateral deal with Jordan signed in 2000. He said that deal happened more because of geopolitical and security concerns rather than commercial reasons.

“We need to have TPA for free-trade agreements,” Flake said.

Flake said renewing the TPA would not only help Obama’s trade policy but also the next president’s, adding that Republicans should focus on why the president has not pursued a more aggressive free-trade agenda.

TPA was last granted to President George W. Bush in 2002, and it expired in 2007. The last trade promotion debate, in 2002, was narrowly approved by a 215-212 vote in the House.

TPA, which would allow the White House to put trade agreements before Congress for an up or down vote without amendments, is considered crucial to paving the way for major deals with European and Pacific Rim trading partners.

Obama needs Republican support on the TPA because so many Democrats oppose free-trade agreements due to concerns about job losses and other problems for constituents.

Groups opposed to the Asia Pacific trade deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), are many – including 151 Democrats in the House who have complained about the lack of transparency in the trade negotiations.

Many major unions and civil society groups are skeptical that many of the benefits will ever materialize.

Many Republicans, particularly those with ties to the tea party, are wary of international pacts, and oppose them on constitutional grounds. They argue that since the Constitution explicitly gives Congress the power of collecting taxes and import duties, it is unconstitutional to give the executive branch authority over international trade.

Flake said those that oppose granting the executive branch trade-promotion powers offer the “canard” that doing so is inconsistent with the Constitution because it cedes Congress’ authority to regulate international trade to the president. He said the Constitution clearly accords the executive branch the role to negotiate treaties with foreign countries.

“Free-trade agreements involve a dovetailing of the responsibilities of the Congress and the executive branch,” he said. “TPA makes this possible.”

The Republican and Democratic chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee are working on fast-track legislation expected to be introduced early in 2014.

After missing a year-end deadline to finalize the agreement, the U.S. and other TPP members announced last week negotiations will resume early next year.

Rodrigo is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"“Distaste for Mr. Obama isn’t enough to justify opposition to trade pacts that would raise U.S. living standards.”"

"Distaste" for Obama is not enough, but "distrust" of Obama is more than enough to justify denying the dictator yet more power.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Flake is a flakie fool. Putting treaty negotiations into the hands of the Marxist president is getting closer to the death knell of our Republic. Our Marxist-in-Chief wants this power to constrict our sovereignty further. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is so uber-secret that Congress is not allowed to see it. Once Obammy gets "trade promotion authority" we are laced up as in a straight jacket.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Flake is a flake. He was as a congressional representative. He still is as a U.S. senator. He's just another McLame.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
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My best friend's aunt makes $88/hr on the computer. She has been without a job for six months but last month her paycheck was $16313 just working on the computer for a few hours. i was reading this >>>>>>
http://x.co/3WCKO
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The advice and consent power isn't precedent to any treaty. It's a postscript to them.
Fast track definately does an end around the senate and gives power to the executive not meant to be granted.
I hate it when someone like Jeff Flake who I can normally count on has been forced by his bankrollers to make mushy arguments to make it look like he's still bought.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama Big Business dealing and knowledge in making BUSINESS AGREEMENTS with Foreign nations is sadly laughable .
He knows Zero about it about like him staying a Days Inn One night and that qualifies him to do Brain Surgery . Obama had no understanding of Business economics #101 WHAT SO EVER . He is a community street Org. who dealt with below room temp IQ.s in Chicago .This is the major leagues .
You need real Business top hard nose Pro's like Warren Buffet , Donald Trump ,The head of Amazon ,E Bay , Todd R. Wanek
Ashley Furniture Industries, CEO
The former famous Head of GE Jack Welch . billionaire Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus
To name a few .
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
turns out that senator flake is a flake
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
"“Distaste for Mr. Obama isn’t enough to justify opposition to trade pacts that would raise U.S. living standards.”"

"Distaste" for Obama is not enough, but "distrust" of Obama is more than enough to justify denying the dictator yet more power.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Flake is a flakie fool. Putting treaty negotiations into the hands of the Marxist president is getting closer to the death knell of our Republic. Our Marxist-in-Chief wants this power to constrict our sovereignty further. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is so uber-secret that Congress is not allowed to see it. Once Obammy gets "trade promotion authority" we are laced up as in a straight jacket.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
We probably could use better trade understandings, policies and agreements with other countries. You get the feeling that they are all sitting around plotting how to take advantage of us while we just let things happen.

The problem is that this regime always looks first to do things that favor themselves and their supporting groups like unions and certain crony companies. When there is no obvious way to enrich themselves, they will base decisions on their ideology while ignoring or failing to understand economics even at the most basic local levels - never mind globally.

So the flake Flake is almost correct but not because Obama is disliked. It's because he and his handlers are aggressively self-serving and incompetent at the same time. The chances of something that is good for the average American happening from TPA while this group is in power are just about nil.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ah, at least there's a line of succession in Arizona (glad I'm leaving the state in a few months). When the old Maverick rides off into the sunset, at least there's another boot licking Quisling in place to sell out the base. Tell folks in the Rust Belt how beneficial free trade is on an uneven playing field.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Flake is a flake. He was as a congressional representative. He still is as a U.S. senator. He's just another McLame.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
While I agree that ObamaCare and the deficit are the key issues confronting Americans today, the U.S. benefits from free trade, which should be expanded even with Clueless Barry in the White House. Jeff Flake may be wrong about other issues, but he is correct on this one. Distaste for the Liar-In-Chief should not cause Republicans to waver in their support of free trade expansion.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
" Jeff Flake may be wrong about other issues, but he is correct on this one."

It is never correct to disregard our Constitution.

The separation of powers is an important safeguard to liberty, and making more money isn't sufficient reason to set it aside.


This isn't about who is in the White House. It's about preserving our Constitution. This would be a serious mistake if Ronald Reagan were still in the White House.



33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
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