This short blog is just a follow-up to my colleague Jeff Haymond’s blog on the trade agreement before Congress now. Dr. Haymond defended the agreement on the correct grounds that it enhanced free trade and that free trade is good for everyone, at least in the longer run (and given some short-run and inevitable disruptions). I fully agree with him, but in recent weeks I have had increasing concerns.
1. Why is the agreement being kept secret?
2. Why should the President be given any more authority than would be normal in a treaty situation?
3. Why is this not being treated AS a treaty, requiring the normal Constitutional process?
4. Why is John Boehner in so much of a hurry that he doesn’t seem to want serious delibration, which they can’t have anyway, since almost no one in Congress has seen or read it?
5. Why am I hearing rumors that the TPP contains more immigration authority for the President (with which to bypass Congress once again)?
6. Why am I hearing rumors that the TPP contains “global warming” regulations? That one is equally concerning.
7. Why is President Obama, no friend of market economics, so keen to get this agreement?
These are a few of my concerns. Let the TPP be brought into the open before any initial vote to require a final “up or down” vote. If the initial vote is approved without any real knowledge of content, the Congress will I fear inevitably pass it in a straight vote because of pressure from various groups. There will be no amendments allowed, so it will be either all or nothing. That is not how the process should work.
Let’s be clear. I want real free trade, but I am skeptical that this will achieve that goal. I am with Dr. Haymond in theory, but as one pundit put it, “the devil is in the details” and we don’t know those details.