Promoting freedom, innovation, and growth

Connect with IPI

Receive news, research, and updates

May 5, 2015

If the Trade Deal Fails Blame President Obama and His Legacy of Mistrust


Oh what a tangled vote they weave when presidents promise then deceive. 

It is unclear whether President Obama will convince Congress to pass trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation, which allows him to negotiate trade agreements and then send those agreements to Congress for an up or down vote, free of amendments. 

Although many presidents have had TPA in the past, if Obama fails to get it he has no one to blame but himself. Though in typical Obama fashion, he will blame everyone BUT himself. 

With respect to expanding trade, most Republicans are for it and most Democrats are against it, but there are significant exceptions on both sides.  

Among Republicans, Senator Jeff Sessions is leading the fight against TPA and the biggest trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership, a 12-country Pacific-basin agreement that has been in the works for years. 

Sessions argues that TPP could dramatically expand immigration. Politico quotes him as saying, “There are numerous ways TPA could facilitate immigration increases above current law—and precious few ways anyone in Congress could stop its happening.” 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch disagrees saying, “There’s nothing in this bill that applies to immigration, and we’ve been assured by the administration that there will be nothing in any of the trade pacts that will involve immigration.”   

While IPI supports expanding trade, including TPA, Hatch’s attempt to reassure his Republican colleagues by claiming the Obama administration has assured him the trade pacts won’t involve immigration is ludicrous. Who believes anything the Obama administration says?   

The president has repeatedly reneged on his previous promises and public statements, and that includes claims that he had no authority to grant undocumented aliens some type of legal status—which he did last December.  

The good news is that under TPA, members of Congress will get to see the final negotiated trade agreement and then vote on it. If it includes some type of European Union-style free movement of labor across borders, then Congress can vote it down.  

Indeed, TPA gives Congress the same kind of authority that it is demanding on the U.S.-Iran treaty—an up or down vote.   

But there is another piece of good news, and perhaps a compelling point for those skeptical of TPA: the trade agreement and TPA will last longer than the current president. Maybe, just maybe, the new president will be willing to follow the law.


  • TaxBytes-New

Copyright Institute for Policy Innovation 2018. All Rights Reserved Privacy Policy Contact IPI.

e-resources e-resources