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May 2, 2015

Now Is the Time for Republicans to Back TPA (Trade Promotion Authority)

 
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Republicans should enthusiastically support Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). Yes, Obama is mostly right on trade. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

This TPA extends past the Obama admin into the next, hopefully Republican, administration. So it's not just for Obama.

"Why not wait until we're sure the next president is a Republican?" some say. Here's the problem: Right now you can peel off a certain number of Dem votes for TPA because it's for a Dem president. If a Republican is president, you'll never get those Dem votes.

Now is the time for TPA. Not just because it's right, but because it's in the strategic interest of the next (hopefully) Republican president as well.

I was asked a few days ago whether I thought the meager .2 percent economic growth in 1Q15 meant we were slipping into another officially defined recession. "It all hinges on TPA" I answered. If Congress denies the President trade promotion authority, it will not only kill trade agreements near completion, but it will also send a very negative message to companies, and they'll react by reducing investment on the margin. That will be enough to push us into an official recession.

I say "official," because I think practically we're in a recession now. But an officially definied recession means negative economic growth for two straight quarters. If you have two quarters with economic growth in the .2 percent range, it may not be an official recession, but it sure feels like one.




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