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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wanda Arnold's Wake Up Call on the current Trade Agreements

Wanda Arnold wrote these articles to the Hickory Daily Record in relation to the Trans Pacific Partnership wanting to rebut some of what she had read in that paper.

Trade agreements are not for the faint hearted. They make the eyes glaze over. I finally figured out the difference between TPA (not secret) and TPP (secret)! I wish I were knowledgeable enough to rebut Patrick Henry's guest column of June 18: "A win for transparency, congressional oversight," but I thought I must try.

To begin with, consider the source. As Majority Deputy House Whip, Patrick McHenry has moved onto the first rung of the House Republican Leadership ladder. His job is to whip up votes among his party members for legislation that the leadership wants approved and persuade others of its worth. Mr. McHenry is a nice guy and probably has done a lot for individual constituents; but this legislation affects the entire country and is too important for blind trust in our representatives.

I'd rather turn to Jeff Sessions, Republican Senator from Alabama. Sen. Sessions went down into the basement where the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) trade deal is under "heavy guard" to read it for himself. How many other Congressmen or women have done this? Then he read the TPA (Trade Promotion Authority) bill that is available online. He diplomatically calls these bills "fraught with problems and concerns." He then goes on to point out the five areas of major concern he has with TPA, which will apply not only to TPP, but to all future trade deals.

(1) Sessions says that TPA would consolidate power in the Executive Branch rather than return more power to Congress. There won't be a committee review process. They won't be allowed to amend it in any way. If Congress sees something it doesn't like or that violates our current laws, it will be hard to remove it from fast track because it must go through the revenue and Rules Committees where the Chairman can kill it. The President must send a report to Congress to get future fast-track approval if TPA is adopted, but he/she can classify and redact any part of the report. (More secrecy!)

(2) Passing TPA through Congress would result in "increased trade deficits." This would result in the loss of thousands of American jobs and he gives the actual figures of how this has happened with both NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the South Korea Free Trade Agreement. NC workers, you remember NAFTA, don't you?

(3) The TPP is a "living agreement," open to change in the future. The deal could be changed by other countries and the President without any congressional approval whatsoever. For example, China could be added without protections for us against their business subsidies and currency manipulations.

In fact concern (4): the agreement does not address currency manipulations at all.

(5) Sessions notes how TPA could facilitate immigration increases above current law and Congress will be powerless to stop it.

How are we as individual voters supposed to figure this all out? Maybe it comes down to "who do you trust?" Sorry Mr. McHenry, I'll go with Jeff Sessions this time.

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