Trade promotion authority, a Washington drama

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from The Hill,

Don Quixote would just love Capitol Hill these days, relishing in all the conversations and counterclaims about trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation. Seems like there is a windmill to fight on almost every corner in Washington. A casual observer might think Congress is trying to reinvent the wheel, or recapture Corregidor Island from the Japanese, rather than iron out a process for both Congress and the president to better handle international trade agreements.

Scene One, Act One (The Protagonist)
I am I, Barack Obama
The lord of international trade

Background: President Obama is working hard to have Congress pass fast-track Legislation called trade promotion authority. This bill would effectively clear a path for his legacy trade legislation, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

In this year’s State of the Union address, the president admitted to the nation that “past trade deals haven’t lived up to the hype” and he also commented that “95 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities.”

Scene One, Act Two (The Antagonist)
“All the world’s a stage,
and all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts …”
— William Shakespeare, As You Like It

While the president is marching forward, several members of his own Democratic Party are lining up against him. Most Republicans are actually in favor of his TPA initiative.

Liberal Democrats want to be sure that the rights of workers are preserved, and that big business doesn’t get a competitive advantage under the TPA process. Labor unions have taken to the streets for active protests, claiming that jobs will be lost and the process undermines democracy.

While most Republicans tend to be in favor of the legislation, some conservatives are opposed, claiming that this TPA gives the president too much power, which he might use incorrectly (as they believe he did with immigration). However, reality dictates that TPA actually restricts the president’s power, rather than enhancing it!

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