In a report at POLITICO, Obama administration officials are saying that Senator Elizabeth Warren’s criticisms of President Barack Obama’s trade policies are not only “baseless” but “desperate” and with “no bearing or relation to anything we are doing.” In the past, Obama has said that the Democrat from Massachusetts is “wrong” about his trade policies. He is seeking so-called “fast-track” authority that has encountered opposition from a number of Congressional Democrats.
Congressional Republicans, for the most part, are solidly in favor of fast-track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Republican candidate Mike Huckabee is among those opposed to the Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, suggesting that American workers would “take it in the backside” if the deal goes through. This week, Obama has accelerated his efforts to sell fast-track on Capitol Hill to his party. Officials at the White House have been quoted as saying that rejecting TPP is foolish since it covers approximately 40 percent of global gross domestic product.
On May 5, Warren gave a speech to the Institute for New Economic Thinking. There she claimed that fast-track authority to submit trade deals to Congress cannot be amended, and would allow a future Republican president to annul the Dodd-Frank financial reform act.
“I very much hope that a Democrat wins the White House in 2016 and again in 2020. But what happens if we have a Republican president in 2016 or 2020?” Warren said. “Ted Cruz has already said flatly, ‘We need to repeal Dodd-Frank,’ and other Republican contenders have already joined in. Republicans have been itching to tear down Dodd-Frank from the moment it passed.”
Furthermore, Warren said “a Republican president could easily use a future trade deal to override our domestic financial rules. And this is hardly a hypothetical possibility: We are already deep into negotiations with the European Union on a trade agreement, and big banks on both sides of the Atlantic are gearing up to use that agreement to water down financial regulations. A six-year fast-track bill is the missing link they need to make that happen.”
Warren has also asserted that obscure international courts could invalidate U.S. laws while mysterious business interests write trade agreements in secret. Earlier this year, Warren that inclusion of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement process in TPP could allow multinational corporations to sue in secretive international tribunals to invalidate U.S. laws while winning big taxpayer-funded awards.
The administration responded that ISDS provisions are already included in over 50 trade deals the U.S. is party to and are meant to protect U.S. companies operating in nations with underdeveloped legal systems. In addition, they noted that the U.S has never lost a case when challenged by a multinational company over a U.S. law or regulation.
According to POLITICO, Obama administration officials are not certain how to address the dissident liberal Democrat Warren but they do suggest that her opposition to fast-track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal will embolden the movement among progressives to induce her to run for the presidency. The White House, while it does not need Warren’s vote to pass fast-track authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord, it takes her seriously when she rails against “Wall Street”: the bête noir of progressives and the Occupy movement.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on May 7 that the appeal for Obama’s fast-track authority and the TPP should be “strongest among those who are concerned about the impact that previous trade agreements [had] with unenforceable labor and environmental provisions.” Another administration spokesperson this week rejected the notion that six-year fast-track authority would lead to repealing Dodd-Frank. The spokesperson said Dodd-Frank is a “signature achievement of the Obama administration that the president fought long and hard to pass into law,” while adding that trade agreements would prevent Wall Street reform now or later.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.