Semi-Good News on Trade Policy

Free Trade

I am pleased to see that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Act has gotten a boost from the United States Senate with the Senate’s decision to grant President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate a new trade deal. I wish that I could say that the vote was unanimous, but alas, it wasn’t, thanks mainly to protectionist Democrats who want America’s trade policies to be as antediluvian as humanly possible. Protectionist Democrats may get another shot at undermining American trade policy by opposing fast-track in the House of Representatives. The question is whether House Republicans will join in this effort to sabotage the American economy.

Hopefully, the answer is “no”:

As the House inches closer to a vote on the long-awaited Trade Promotion Authority bill, conservatives who have traditionally been hard-liners in their opposition to deals with the White House are taking a softer approach.

While many on the right are still hedging their position on the TPA, there appears to be some conservative support for the trade process legislation. And with congressional Democrats increasingly taking a firmer line against the TPA, which would give expedited consideration to the Trans-Pacific Partnership under negotiation with 11 other countries, conservatives could be the key to getting the TPA over the finish line.

Relatedly–and I have made this point before–I remember when Republicans were castigated for opposing the Obama administration’s legislative agenda by the same people who reflexively opposed the Bush administration’s agenda. Now that fast-track authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the Obama administration’s most serious legislative priority, it is Republicans who might help the Obama administration prevail on the issue. Meanwhile, Democrats are almost completely opposed to the administration’s effort to solidify fast-track authority for the president.

Is castigation for the Democrats upcoming? Or are some forms of obstruction more equal than others?

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