Free Trade is Pro-Freedom (Guest Post)

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The late Milton Friedman wrote that there are “few measures that we could take would do more to promote the cause of freedom at home and abroad than complete free trade.” But with a pro-free trade measure at hand, some on the right are letting their objections for President Obama’s lawlessness on immigration and other issues to cloud their conviction in this core principle of conservative belief.

At issue is Trade Promotion Authority, which guarantees that international trade agreements struck by the president will receive an up-or-down vote in the House and Senate. The expedited process would extend from the last months of Obama’s second term into the next, hopefully Republican presidency. Since the GOP controls both chambers of Congress until Obama leaves office, putting trade agreements to a vote hardly seems like a serious danger, especially for some of the more outlandish “threats” that critics have raised. Would House Republicans – any House Republicans – vote to curtail the 2nd Amendment, for instance? The idea is, frankly, laughable. And yet this precise worry has been raised by Gun Owners of America (generally a terrific organization) as something Obama may try to sneak through once he has secured an up-or-down vote in Congress. Fears of a liberal dream agreement gliding through Congress while Republicans watch helplessly look even more outlandish when one considers the politics of the actual agreement at issue: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal that Obama is currently negotiating with Japan and other Asian countries. They say you can tell who a man is by his friends. For the TPP, it’s equally instructive to look at its enemies: an axis-of-liberalism of unions and environmentalists.

In Congress, arch-liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), backed by the nakedly partisan former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), have lit up Obama for backing the deal, occasionally descending into bitter recriminations. Given that unions have employed truly slash-and-burn tactics to stop the TPP, including warning a Democratic lawmaker they would drop $2 million in the next Democratic primary to take them out if they disobeyed liberal orthodoxy, it’s clear the TPP won’t be garnering a huge number of Democratic votes when it comes to the House floor. Given that reality, all of the leverage for agreeing to the ultimate deal lies with the Republicans. And if a President Rubio or Walker is negotiating deals in 2017, trade fast-track will help facilitate their deals.

It would also be more difficult to pass through Congress then with Democrats likely to be completely unified against it. Beyond fears about Obama, a more worrying trend in the rhetoric from some critics like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), generally speaking a conservative champion, is their criticism of trade deals in principle. Sessions has criticized previous free trade agreements, saying they have led to a trade imbalance. The Alabama Republican cites economist Clyde Prestowitz, a former Reagan administration official who has veered sharply left in recent decades, arguing that an increase in imported goods has led to job losses.

Here, Friedman is especially instructive. Rather than causing economic harm, the truth about imports is “very different,” he wrote in the late 1990s. “We cannot eat, wear, or enjoy the goods we send abroad. We eat bananas from Central America, wear Italian shoes, drive German automobiles, and enjoy programs we see on our Japanese TV sets. Our gain from foreign trade is what we import. Exports are the price we pay to get imports.” Every industry has what Friedman called a “cacophony of the ‘interested sophistry of merchants and manufacturers’ and their employees” working overtime to “protect” their narrow interests against trade deals that benefit vast millions of people, a little bit each.

As a conservative, I’m worried about representing the interest of the many – I know that each industry will ably represent itself. Conservatives looking at guaranteeing merely a vote on a trade agreement loathed by the left ought to consider their interests, too.

8 Responses to “Free Trade is Pro-Freedom (Guest Post)”

  1. 1

    Nanny G

    I was nearly swayed by Paul Ryan’s statement that this agreement means Congress has an ”up or down” vote on everything Obama might want…..but it turns out not to be true.
    Obama has made a name for himself through by-passing Congress.
    He could get the Commission set up by the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to add climate change regulations among other things to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/05/sen_sessions_explains_obamatrade_in_key_senate_speech.html
    http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/president-obama-talks-trade
    http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/president-obama-talks-trade
    After that, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement Provisions, set up by that agreement, could enforce Obama’s terms through the threat of multi-billion-dollar fines upon the U.S. government.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-progressives-lament-about-the-trans-pacific-partnership/2015/04/28/6627523e-ed18-11e4-8abc-d6aa3bad79dd_story.html

    So, boils down to, I don’t know, having not been allowed to read the thing.
    But Obama’s secretiveness usually served HIM well, and no one else.

  2. 2

    Aguila1952

    You say ” …some on the right are letting their objections for President Obama’s lawlessness on immigration and other issues to cloud their conviction in this core principle of conservative belief.”

    Good grief! After so many years of lies and deception, you take this guy at his word? Seriously??

    Have you ever heard of “misdirection” my friend? Just because some liberals are pretending to fight Barry does not mean they are sincere. It is a ploy to get people to think, “Gee, if his own people are against it, it must really stink!” So when the Repubs are against it Barry gets to say it is such a glorious plan for “FREE TRADE” and all that crap.

    Until you can read what is in it. Don’t believe a word. And when it says it is an agreement with other Asian countries, you should read “Muslim” countries in there because there are very large Muslim states involved there and we all know, or should know, what a friend he is to the Muslim world.

    So get a grip and take off your ‘rose’ colored glasses! He will be taking Americans for another ride that we won’t like anymore than we like Obamacare.

  3. 3

    James Raider

    author

    As I noted in the article on May 7th in The “Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP)” Hustle,

    Just look at what Obama/Jarrett negotiated yesterday on your behalf and what truth they told you, and that will dictate what they will negotiate for you tomorrow and what they will tell you tomorrow. Nothing good, and nothing true. You wouldn’t let these two negotiate your lunch. …. There is no chance that this secret deal being negotiated by ignorance, in ignorance, will ever be a positive force for the majority of Americans.

    IMHO, habitually or ideologically being in “support of Free Trade” exhibits a lack of familiarity with international economic and political realities.

    This is somewhat akin to being ideologically in “support of capitalism” without actually defining what “capitalism” is being supported — the current nature of capitalism in America, with its cronyisms and too-big-to-fails, is NOT what I would define as Capitalism.

    Beohner and McConnell have no sound reason to support this deal — they certainly have not read it. Even if they had, they are clueless as to what it would really mean.

    Obama’s version of Free Trade is guaranteed to mean a degradation of American international dominance, relinquishing power to guide, and worse, . . . it will empower completely corrupt foreign societies to influence America’s small to medium sized businesses, America’s social fibre, and America’s politics.

    But international too big to fails, particularly banks and bankers are doing the jig on their virtual bridge from Wall Street to London City.

    So much for the Beacon On The Hill.

  4. 4

    James Raider

    author

    Note:
    America should understand that this is NOT going to be a trade deal anyhow, it is a World Government deal. As I also wrote, . . .

    What countries are involved in this supposedly secret deal (kept secret only from Americans)? The United States, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, with hope that Europe, China and India will hop onboard. So this is virtually a global deal. Does this not stink of virulent toxins? Systemically corrupted nations such as Chile, Brunei, Mexico, and Vietnam, are negotiating with O/J to influence our behaviour into the next century?

    That means this is not a trade dealit is a governance deal.

  5. 5

    Aguila1952

    @James Raider: You are absolutely correct. And it is of the socialist strain, the virulent, most deadly type and the world has been prepped for it to spread with utmost haste as no one seems willing to stand in its way.

  6. 6

    Ditto

    contributor

    After his record so far, I wouldn’t trust Obama to order a pizza. And for those nit-wit establishment Republicans who are backing this, I don’t trust their RINO asses either. Sessions is right on this when he says it’s time Republicans stood up for the workers and middle-class, instead of Wall Street and the US Chamber of Commerce, it stinks of global governance progressive elitism and will screw the US and it’s workers.

  7. 7

    FAITH7

    @James Raider You are dead on.
    “….without defining what “capitalism” really is…”

    This is deception (of everyone if he can get away with it) at it’s worse…akin to ‘hiding in plain sight’ ….this has been done many times before by obama in ‘other areas’ as well….defining, but not giving a full explanation of what it is you ‘mean’, exactly. AND not being asked too define your purpose either…not that anyone would get the straight story anyway…

  8. 8

    James Raider

    author

    @FAITH7: #7
    For all those pathetic pandering democrats who blindly support their supposed champion-of-the-poor, Obama, — this deal is being influenced and guided by the “Too-big-to-fails.”

    Obama wants it because of its world governance consequences.

    Obama cares little of all those who have placed him in power and in a position to become wealthy, a la Clinton.

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