S.U.A.. Trade Show: Deal or No Deal

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Sounds like another sorry example of Washington’s partisan paralysis, doesn’t it?

Now consider this bizarre fact: Republicans offered the proposal and Democrats defeated it.

Shouldn’t it have been the other way around?

So here’s a fresh reason to wonder whether President Obama is serious about creating jobs and encouraging economic growth by boosting exports.

We know he won’t strike any new trade deals soon, following last week’s embarrassing vote on Trade Promotion Authority. It would have given the Obama administration the ability to negotiate trade agreements and submit them to Congress for up-or-down votes.

The up-or-down vote is crucial because it strips Congress of the ability to alter the text of an existing agreement through a never-ending series of amendments. Other nations will bargain with only one entitythe president, usually through his trade representativeand not with 535 members of Congress and all of their separate agendas.

If trade talks were a game show, they’d be “Deal or No Deal.A president who lacks Trade Promotion Authority compels other countries to declare, at the outset, “No Deal.Nothing gets startedand this new failure probably even delivers a blow to the deliberations surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Obama has claimed is critical to American competitiveness in the global economy.

In the past, politics have explained the denial of TPA. During the Clinton years, congressional Republicans refused to grant it. During the Bush years, congressional Democrats refused to grant it.

These were bad choices, but at least they had a partisan rationale.

Now we’ve witnessed a brand-new species of gridlock: Senate Democrats have denied a president of their own party the power to hold meaningful trade talks with other nations. If the United States had a parliamentary system, this would be like a vote of no confidence in the government.

The result suggests that Obama’s trade agenda is kaput, either because he can’t persuade a handful of members of his own party to embrace his vision of creating jobs through exports or because he never really believed the vision he set forth in the first place.

Mai mult 18 luni în urmă, Obama promised that U.S. exports would double in five years. He also said that the passage of three pending trade agreements was crucial to this goal. He has called for their approval on many high-profile occasions, most recently during his jobs address to Congress.

“Now it’s time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama and Colombia and South Korea,” he said on September 8. “That’s what we need to get done.

But they can’t get done until Obama first submits them to Congress. They were negotiated during the previous administration (before President Bush’s TPA expired) and Obama has talked them up for a year and a half. Yet they’re still sitting on his desk in the Oval Office.

Once upon a time, supporters of free trade were hopeful that Obama meant what he saidand that he was genuinely committed to helping U.S. companies sell their made-in-America products to foreign consumers.

Now pessimism has set in. “This is ridiculous,” says Pat Roberts, a Republican senator from Kansas who is the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “Every third foggy night, the president makes a speech and says we need these trade agreements.Now Roberts predicts that there won’t be any trade agreements this year or next.

We may know soon. South Korean president Lee Myung-bak will visit the United States next month and the president will host a state dinner for him on October 13.

Will Obama be able to tell Lee in person that he has bothered, at long last, to submit their trade agreement to Congress?

Mark your calendar.

Mrs. Keiser, a Truth about Trade & Technology board member, owns and manages cattle feeding operations in Kansas, Nebraska, and Illinois. www.truthabouttrade.org

Note: this column first appeared September 28 at The Washington Times. 

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Carol Keiser

Carol Keiser-Long is president of C-BAR Cattle Company, Inc. which she established and currently manages operations for feeding 5,000 la 6000 head of cattle in Kansas, Nebraska, and Western Illinois. She is also president of C-ARC Enterprises, Inc. Mrs. Keiser-Long is an Agriculture Advocate at both the state and federal level. She consults and seeks out individual and corporate support for Farm Safety 4Just Kids and Children's Safety Campaign. She serves on the Board of Directors of Agriculture Future of America and Pony Up Technologies, Inc. Carol was chair of the USDA REE (Cercetare, Education & Economics Renewable Energy Committee). She also served food animal commodity producers on the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board - a primary advisory board to the US Secretary of Agriculture. She also serves as a Farm Foundation Trustee, and has served on the Steering Committee of the Future of Animal Agriculture Project - representing beef producers on the Food Safety and Animal Health Subcommittee. În 2005, she was the first woman named to the US Premium Beef Board of Directors. She is also a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and has served on NCBA’s animal health and tax committees. She is also a professional member of the American Society of Animal Science and American Meat Science Association and Institute of Food Technologies (IFT). Carol holds a degree in Animal Science from the U. of Illinois, a degree in Education from Greenville College and coursework in Public Finance and Government Business. In May 2008 she received the University of Illinois Distinguished Service Award, and received the Award of Merit from the school's College of Agriculture, Conservation and Environmental Sciences. Mrs. Keiser-Long established the “Opportunities for Women in Production Agriculture and Related Areas” internship program to help young UIUC-ACES women learn more about the ag industry. This exposes young women to careers in food and agriculture as well as giving them hands on experiences.

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