Democrats must give Obama trade promotion authority

By John Thune
February 25, 2014

President Barack Obama declared in his State of the Union speech, “We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment and open new markets to new goods stamped ‘Made in the USA.’ China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines. Neither should we.”

Republicans agree. But the president has not followed through on his call for legislative action. Giving him trade promotion authority would put two large trade deals on a fast track to completion.

It appears politics have intruded. The president has given in to members of his party who oppose granting fast-track authority because the trade deals might alienate friendly special-interest groups in an election year. He reportedly did not even mention the issue when speaking to the House Democratic Caucus at its annual retreat. Then Vice President Joe Biden, addressing the same group, said the White House would be backing off the issue in deference to Democrats’ political concerns.

After five years of economic stagnation and high unemployment, we should be seizing every opportunity to create more jobs and get the economy growing at a faster pace. We could do that today in both the Senate and House by passing legislation giving the president the authority to wrap up the two trade pacts — all without adding a dime to the deficit.

Presidents of both parties have in the past used trade promotion authority to negotiate trade agreements that help American farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and job creators gain access to new consumers around the globe. By renewing the authority, which expired in 2007, Congress sets the rules for the proposed trade agreements and, in return, agrees to allow for a straight up-or-down vote when the agreements come before it.

The Department of Commerce recently announced that the United States exported $2.3 trillion of goods and services in 2013, setting another record for the fourth consecutive year. According to economists, every billion dollar of additional exports creates about 5,000 well-paying U.S. jobs. Roughly 10 million jobs nationwide are tied directly to exports. In fact, exports have created 1.3 million new jobs just since 2010.

Exports of U.S. agricultural products reached a record $141 billion in 2012, up from less than $90 billion five years earlier. More than 1 in 5 jobs in South Dakota is tied to trade, according to estimates in a recent Business Roundtable study, up from 11 percent in 1992.

But we can do better.

The trade agreements with 11 Asia-Pacific countries and the 28 European Union nations would open up access to one billion consumers around the globe. That could translate into thousands of new jobs and faster economic growth.

This opportunity can only become reality, however, if the president has the authority to close the deals. Foreign nations won’t put their best offers on the table if they believe Congress will renegotiate an agreement.

Trade promotion authority, and the trade agreements it will enable, is the best way to bring down foreign barriers to U.S. products and services. Our market is already largely open to foreign imports. Shouldn’t we demand that other nations return the favor?

Fast-tracking trade agreements has another big benefit. It would promote the creation of high-paying, research-intensive jobs in the U.S. by better protecting intellectual property — everything from life-saving medicines to cutting-edge software and computing — of U.S. companies doing business overseas.

The president is the only person who can ensure that the United States will keep pace in the global competitive economy. If he is serious about seeing this important legislation passed, he should stop paying lip service to trade promotion authority and pick up the phone and urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and members of Congress to support it.

 

PHOTO (TOP): Containers are pictured at the ITS terminal at the Port of Long Beach, California, December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

PHOTO (INSERT): Containers are loaded onto the Mol Matrix in a general view of the Port of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, May 30, 2012. REUTERS/David McNew

8 comments

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Another paid political piece Reuters?

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

You beat me too it, tmc.

Posted by BidnisMan | Report as abusive

The article exists mostly in a fantasy world, where jobs can be made with the stroke of a pen and buyers and sellers magically descend from the clouds. Seriously, America only exports one physical thing that other countries can’t manufacture cheaper/better themselves: Tabasco sauce. Stick to be the entrepreneur and designer – US manufacture for export is a 1960′s idea.

Posted by BidnisMan | Report as abusive

We need to be subtracting from the little weasel’s power not adding to it! How does it benefit the U.S. for Obungle to create “thousands of new jobs and faster economic growth” ? We know it would all be in China.

Posted by JRTerrance | Report as abusive

“We need to work together” AGREED, SHOW US WHAT THE AGREEMENT LOOKS LIKE, SO WE THE PEOPLE THAT WILL BE EFFECTED CAN SEE HOW WE ARE BEING SOLD.

“It appears politics have intruded.” THE PEOPLE OF THE USA “INTRUDED” IN THEIR OWN HOUSE AND FUTURE! “The president has given in to members of his party who oppose granting fast-track authority because the trade deals might alienate friendly special-interest groups in an election year.” AND HOW!

“After five years of economic stagnation and high unemployment”, DUE TO A BLOATED MILITARY! “we should be seizing every opportunity to create more jobs” IN THE ENERGY SECTORS – OUTSIDE – OIL/COAL/NUKE (the trio that is killing the planet) THAT WILL – get the economy growing at a faster pace.

“We could do that today in both the Senate and House by passing legislation giving the president the authority to wrap up the two trade pacts — all without adding a dime to the deficit.” AND IT WONT REMOVE ANY OF OUR DEBT, EITHER!

“More than 1 in 5 jobs in South Dakota is tied to trade” HOW MUCH DOES THAT COST THE REST OF US? WE PAY ~ $1 PER GALLON IN GAS TAX, SO THEY CAN KEEP “SHIPPING CHEEP” AT THE EXPENSE OF THE ENVIRONMENT.

“But we can do better.” YOU BET WE CAN. TRIM THE BLOATED DICK WORLD!!!

“The trade agreements with 11 AP countries and the 28 EU nations would open up access to one billion consumers around the globe.” WHAT IS STOPPING OTHER PEOPLE IN OTHER COUNTRIES FROM “CONSUMING” OUR GOODS? IF A CORPORATION HAS A PRODUCT THEY WANT TO SELL, LET THEM PROMOTE IT THEMSELVES, WITH SALES MEN, THAT TRAVEL TO SELL THEIR PRODUCTS. DON’T NEED THE GOVERNMENT TO DO THAT.

“This opportunity can only become reality, however, if the president has the authority to close the deals.” HARRY KNOW BEST!!!

The best way to bring down foreign barriers to U.S. products and services – IS TO STOP MAKING WAR ON THE WORLD. “Our market is already largely open to foreign imports.” YEH, AND MOST OF THAT STUFF IS A BUNCH OF CRAP THAT POLUTED THE EARTH TO MAKE – THAT WE DO NOT NEED – JUST TO FEED THE PHONY BALLONEY BUYING MACHINE.

“The president is the only person who can ensure that the United States will keep pace in the global competitive economy.” NO HE ISN’T. “If he is serious about seeing this important legislation passed” THEN HE WILL SHOW US WHAT IS IN IT. LOVE . . .

Posted by 2Borknot2B | Report as abusive

Sen. Thune’s opinion sidesteps the crucial issue of separation of powers. So-called “fast track” authority, which expired in 2007, has a mixed history of success. It also has created a trade bureaucracy that undermines congressional law-making power. The president has more than enough powers of influence to persuade congress to pass trade legislation he wants, he just has to learn how to use those powers instead of flying around the globe like and emperor.

Posted by jmasdenver | Report as abusive

This guy desperately wants the APTA to be approved without congressional support. It would be a huge victory for Corporate America in many ways. It’s jam packed with things they could never get through congress on IP, Patents, taxation, labor, and more.
We should all [pray] that the APTA is shot down by congress.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

These trade agreements weren’t negotiated in secret for nothing. They benefit only corporations and are poison for everyone else plus the environment and the jobs thing is nothing but propaganda. NAFTA was wonderful compared to these trade deals and we all remember what a disaster that was and continues to be. And how surprised are we that this claptrap comes from a Republican senator. The Republicans are a party of Corporate America, by Corporate America and for Corporate America.

Lets hear the other side of the story Reuters.

Posted by Des3Maisons | Report as abusive