You have to pass it to find out what’s in it.
Remember that? But if you think ObamaCare was a corrupt exercise in legislating, imagine giving the congressional imprimatur to something that hasn’t been written yet.
That’s fast track.
In order to give Obama a “legacy-burnishing achievement” [Washington Post, “Obama to seek GOP’s help,” December 27, 2014, page 1], the Washington Establishment is now pushing to pass “fast track” authority early in the 114th Congress. If passed, Obama could stick anything into the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and it could not be filibustered or amended, and, when rubber-stamped by Congress, would have the force of law.
Make no mistake about it: Obama is the “big dog” in these negotiations. Gun and magazine import bans? Environment and labor standards that apply not just to the Third World, but to the U.S.? “Immigration reform”? I could all be in there, and it’s likely that some of it will be.
But Congress has to approve the final product, right? Well, we saw, with the Cromnibus, what it’s like to fight, up-and-down, a massive fait accompli supported by the Washington Establishment, on the basis of its individual parts.
So here’s why Republicans should not be so fast to endorse fast-track:
(1) WITH THE GOP HAVING WHINED ABOUT OBAMA’S SEIZURE OF LEGISLATIVE POWER, FAST TRACK WOULD HAND HIM ALL LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY, SO LONG AS HE’S ABLE TO GET IT INTO A TRADE AGREEMENT.
(2) OBAMA IS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO CLINTON’S ELECTION AS PRESIDENT. IF OBAMA’S LEGACY IS “BURNISHED,” THAT OBSTACLE IS REMOVED.
(3) UNDER CONGRESSIONAL PRECEDENTS, YOU CAN WRITE ANY RESTRICTIONS ON FAST TRACK YOU WANT — BUT NONE OF THEM ARE BINDING IN PREVENTING ITS INVOCATION, EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT COMPLIED WITH.
(4) AS FOR THE BUSINESS INTERESTS WHO ARE SO THRILLED ABOUT ENHANCING, E.G., VIETNAM AS A TRADING PARTNER? WE HAVEN’T SEEN THE END OF THE LABOR AND ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS BEING DEMANDED BY THE DEMOCRATIC BASE. AND, AS WE SAW WITH THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT, GENERALIZED “UNOBJECTIONABLE” STATEMENTS CAN, FIVE YEARS LATER, BE INTERPRETED BY THE COURTS TO INVOKE COMPREHENSIVE ENVIRONMENTAL AND/OR LABOR REGULATION. [See, e.g., Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency]
(5) OH, AND, INCIDENTALLY, WE ALREADY KNOW WHO THE BIG WINNER FROM THE TPP IS: HOLLYWOOD, WHICH WOULD GET SWEEPING “INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY” PROTECTIONS.
So be careful what you wish for. Business thinks fast track is an election pay-back which will enhance its bottom line. But at its core, it’s a massive transfer of power from the legislature to Barack Obama. And has he really done anything lately to convince us he should be trusted with that power?