Senate Democrats demonstrated once again that Congress just can’t see the forest for the trees. They have proven exactly why President Obama did not want the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement to be the focal point of a fight over Fast Track Authority. He was worried that a debate on Fast Track would devolve into a feeding frenzy over the TPP. He was right.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Yahoo News earlier this week that if the President is so confident the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is a good deal, he should declassify the text and let people see it. She was right about that. But not until Trade Promotion Authority for “fast tracking” the process is passed.

Moreover, the liberal senator from Massachusetts and her allies are wrong on insisting that Congress should be able to fix the TPP. Therein lies the dilemma: Declassifying the TPP now will give the hounds on the Hill a new bone to chew on. Instead, the Senate Democrats simply torpedoed debate on Fast Track Authority. Seriously?

Business and political leaders across the country, from both parties, have voiced strong support for both Trade Promotion Authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership. Fast Track is, and always has been, a no-brainer. It’s one of those rare birds that presidents from both parties won’t shoot from the sky. Ironic, because one of the values of Fast Track is that it removes a lot of the cow poop from the process. Unfortunately, Congress seems to relish the constant aroma of political dung in the Capitol air.

Fast track should have been passed long ago because it takes much of the political theatre out of the process.

This is the most divisive Congress since the Civil War. Conservatives and liberals alike have proven to be much more adept at breaking stuff than at fixing it.

That’s precisely why Fast Track needs to be considered on its own merits. It should have been passed long ago because it takes much of the political theatre out of the process. Under Fast Track, Congress can approve or disapprove a proposed trade agreement, but it cannot amend or filibuster. Ironically, Fast Track is needed to avoid exactly what happened on Tuesday: Forward movement getting mired in Congressional muck.

In The Spotlight

President Obama has promised to declassify the TPP accord after Fast Track passes.

And his administration should deliver all of the information related to what has been a largely secretive process. The American public has every reason to insist on transparency, not backroom deals and secret negotiations.

But that does not mean that whatever deal is brought to the table should be rubber-stamped. If the deal doesn’t have merit, Congress can — and should — vote it down, and send the negotiators back to the drawing room.

At this point, no one really knows for sure if the TPP a good deal for America or not. One big concern is that there is a huge puzzle piece missing. Where is China? How in the world does a Trans Pacific Partnership deal make sense without including the largest economy in the Asia Pacific region?

Once Fast Track passes, Congress can sink its collective teeth into the TPP. At that point, it lives or dies on the merit of what has been negotiated.


Greg Sandler
About The Author Greg Sandler
Greg Sandler is the president of ThinkGlobal Inc., a new media, content development, and video production company. An expert in B2B marketing and international business, Greg consults with a wide range of organizations, government agencies and private sector partners.

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