The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

February 7, 2014

Our View: Fast-track trade is a win-win

Why it matters: Trade will boost exports and support more jobs in the United States

Most businesses would avoid negotiating a deal with 535 separate people.

So it is with U.S. trading partners who would rather deal with an Obama administration trade team before dealing with the U.S. Congress.

But many Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, want to be intimately involved in a U.S. trade deal with 12 Pacific Rim nations and another agreement with the European Union.

The Trans Pacific Partnership deal would be between the U.S. and places like Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam but it also major U.S. trading partners such as Australia, Mexico, Canada and Singapore.

The deal is part of Obama’s push to counterbalance the influence of China in the Pacific Rim with a basic free trade model.

Liberal Democrats and some Tea Party Republicans are at odds with Obama and more moderate Democrats and Republicans who would like to get approval for so called “fast-track” trade authority that allows the administration to negotiate trade deals and have Congress approve the deals in an up or down vote, without amendments.

Mostly Democrats in Congress want the authority to manage and vote on particular aspects of the deals. Such political meddling in what should be a business transaction hasn’t been the best way to do business. History shows fast-track authority can work. In fact, going back to the 1990s presidents have been given the fast-track trade authority. Bill Clinton had it as did George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. But the last trade authority expired in 2007.

Now, we appear to be debating an issue where there is no problem.

Democrats in Congress backed by the support of unions claim the trade deals will further pull American jobs abroad. They say foreign companies may gain an advantage over U.S. companies with cheap labor and lax environmental regulations.

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