If you believe that such an outcome has national security problems written all over it, be very wary about giving Obama fast-track trade authority.
Several weeks ago, we listed 6 reasons even free traders should oppose giving Obama fast-track authority, given the political climate, the distrust of the president, the comprehensive nature of these agreements, and the lack of ability to practically relinquish the fast track authority if the trade deals are finalized with harmful provisions. But even more concerns have developed over the past few weeks.
The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) will provide fast track authority not just for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in International Services Agreement (TISA) as well. These are not your run-of-the-mill bilateral agreements between two nations working to lower trade barriers. They are massive partnerships that establish international governing bodies to oversee a host of issues. TTIP includes all of the European Union countries and TISA consists of 51 nations.
TISA is particularly concerning. This agreement governs services, which in this day and age, comprises most aspects of modern economies. Services include e-commerce, financial services, accounting, logistics, transportation, telecommunications, and tourism – just to name a few. While it is important to work out the new realities of service-based industries through the prism of modern-day international trade, has anyone thought of all the opportunities Obama would have to forge in what he calls a “progressive trade deal” – one that goes well beyond reducing tariffs? Indeed TISA might be a bigger potential problem than TPP.
One very disturbing aspect of TISA is the document uncovered by WikiLeaks revealing an entire section on immigration, referred to as “Movement of Natural Persons.” This section discusses commitments by the parties not to place undue burdens on visas and singles out face-to-face interviews as an example of “overly burdensome procedures.” [see the footnote on page 7] At a time when we face so many national security problems, why would conservatives trust this president to squelch any visa provision threatening our security?
And guess who is a party to TISA?
Pakistan! In addition to the massive immigration from Pakistan, we admitted 78,000 Pakistani nationals on some type of visa in 2013. Do we really want to join in an agreement that could loosen restrictions on visas from Pakistan?
Guess which other country is a part of TISA? Mexico! For good measure, Turkey is also a party to TISA. What could go wrong?
There is a lot of hype being thrown around about some of these treaties, but the WikiLeaks document on TISA is very believable because service industries, the tourism industry in particular – hate all restrictions on visas. Their opposition is certainly understandable, but that is the price we must pay when scrutinizing visas from volatile and dangerous parts of the world.
Some conservatives are celebrating the fact that Paul Ryan put a provision in an accompanying trade bill prohibiting Obama from negotiating any immigration change in the trade deals. But does anyone really believe Obama will follow a TPA directive when he thumbs his nose at the Constitution? Moreover, does anyone believe Paul Ryan would willingly scuttle any trade deal were such a provision to be found in one of the trade agreements? According to an update from Senator Jeff Session’s (R-AL) office, the provision itself is non-binding and non-enforceable. For enforcement amendments to be enforceable, they should be included in the enforcement section with enforcement tools – not appended to the non-binding “negotiation objectives.”
How much are GOP leaders willing to sacrifice in order to pass #Obamatrade? They have already jeopardized their successful fight against the Ex-Im Bank in order to beg Democrats to pass this. Should they also cede national security?
Given the secrecy, Obama’s history of malfeasance, the complexity of these treaties (yes, they are ostensibly treaties), and the growing national security threats, why would any conservative rush into this process under this president? It’s not like there aren’t other urgent issues to deal with this year.