House Speaker Paul Ryan Demands TPP Be Renegotiated; Neglects To Mention It Was His Bill That Makes That Impossible
from the is-that-your-own-petard-you're-hoisted-on? dept
House Speaker Paul Ryan is apparently none too pleased about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. We’re not very pleased with it either and think large sections of it should be dumped — but for very different reasons than Ryan I imagine. Ryan is saying that there aren’t enough votes in the House to ratify the TPP, while suggesting that the USTR has to go back and renegotiate the deal in an interview he gave on Fox News:
When asked where TPP stands now, Ryan said, ?Right now I don?t see the votes there for TPP, because I think the administration negotiated an agreement that has some problems in it, has some flaws in it, and they?re going to have to figure those out and work those out if they want to get the votes to pass it through Congress, which I just don?t see the votes there right now.?
Ryan said TPP is not dead, ?but right now they have a lot of work to do. If we brought it to the floor today, it wouldn?t pass.?
And then when the host, Maria Baritoromo challenges him on this, pointing out that if they don’t have the votes now, how will they have the votes later, he raises a bunch of issues (including intellectual property — which probably means he wants those provisions to be even worse and more ridiculous than they are now) and basically says the USTR needs to go back to the negotiating table:
I won?t go into all the details, but cross-border data flows, dairy, there are biologics, intellectual property rights protections. I can go into all the details if you?d like, but the point I?m trying to make is I don?t see the votes for this agreement now. That?s why I think they need to go back and work on this agreement.
Go back and work on this agreement? Oh really? Now, this is the same Paul Ryan who (as he mentions in the interview) was the driving force behind the so-called fast track or “Trade Promotion Authority.” Though Ryan totally misrepresents what that means. He claims that the TPA gave the USTR “the ability to go negotiate trade agreements.” That’s hilariously not true. After all, the USTR has been negotiating the TPP for more than half a decade at this point, and only got Trade Promotion Authority in June. All Trade Promotion Authority REALLY does is ties Congress’s hands so that it can no longer ask the USTR to go back and renegotiate sections, because the whole point of the TPA is that it limits Congressional authority to a simple yes or no vote — rather than allowing it to actually debate and challenge specific aspects of the agreement.
And, of course, back when that push was on, Ryan was all over the place, insisting that Congress needed to pass Trade Promotion Authority to make sure that the USTR would follow Congress’s instructions on the deal and to make sure everyone knew that the US government “spoke with one voice.” Here’s what Paul Ryan was saying a few months ago:
TPA shows our trading partners that the U.S. government speaks with one voice, putting our country in the strongest negotiating position possible, and it lets these countries know that we are open for business. Additionally, TPA gives us the opportunity to write the rules of any deal before entering into a trade agreement, and it mandates that no provision of any trade agreement can conflict with existing American laws, make changes to our immigration policy, impose new environmental regulations on our economy, infringe on our 2nd Amendment rights, or undermine the sovereignty of the American people in any way. Completing any major trade agreement without TPA undermines the constitutional role of Congress over trade, and TPA would ensure that Congress is an equal partner in the negotiations.
Of course, almost none of that is accurate. All TPA did was take away Congress’s “constitutional role” in trade, by giving it over to the executive branch. I still find it hilarious that Congressional Republicans, who claim to so hate executive power wielded by President Obama, were so eager to give up their own powers to enter into trade agreements, and to hand that power entirely over to the executive branch, with a mere up or down vote.
So now it seems particularly ridiculous for Speaker Ryan, of all people, to be claiming that we need to go back and renegotiate the deal. We can’t do that — and the reason we can’t do that is because of Ryan’s own Trade Promotion Authority effort, which he insisted was necessary so that the final deal would reflect the wishes of Congress.
In another push for Trade Promotion Authority, Paul Ryan said the following:
With so much at stake, if the House rejects TPA, it will announce to the world that America is unreliable. But if the House approves TPA, it will underscore America?s commitment to a successful negotiation and reassert America?s leading role in world affairs. After years of indecision, no puffed-up posture can enhance America?s stature. Only concrete actions can rebuild U.S. credibility. And number one on the to-do list is establishing TPA.
The whole basis of TPA was that once the USTR concluded a deal, Congress couldn’t nitpick it. That was Ryan’s entire argument. And now that the deal is done… he wants to nitpick it?