According to David Broder in the Washington Post:
The key question is how many Democrats will support trade agreements negotiated by a Republican administration. When I asked Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, his answer was "maybe 60 to 90," substantially less than half the Democratic membership but perhaps enough to make a majority with Republican votes.
What Emanuel -- who in an earlier life as a Clinton White House aide worked to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement -- also said is that dealing with the effects of globalization requires much more than smart trade agreements.
America's education and health-care systems also need attention, he said, and so do our incentives for investment in modern technology -- if we are to be prepared for competition from India, China and other nations. He is right, and if the coming trade debate opens up all of those issues as well, so much the better.
60 votes would be 25% of the 233 (232 currently because of a vacancy due to a death) Democrats in the House. That's why some have been saying that the Deathstar Deal is a plan to split the Democratic Caucus, and pass the Peru and Panama pacts with a majority of the minority GOP and a minority of the majority Dems. (Of course, it will be up to fair traders to let their voices be heard now to make that a reality.)
Also, maybe I missed something, but what does any of this have to do with "opening up" the issues of
health care and other social needs? As Jeff Faux documents in his latest book, Clinton promised health care but delivered NAFTA. And as I posted yesterday, the labor "concessions" on the Jordan FTA became a starting point for negotiating downwards later on. We have a history now on trade policy - after decades, 90% of promises to use trade as a strategic lever to open up other issues have been broken. (Actually, there is a link between trade policy and health and education policy, but it's not what you might think from this piece.)
No, the choice before Congress is to totally change course on trade (which has been thus far rejected), or to live with the possibility that Deathstar Deal trade pacts are the ONLY major initiative that becomes law for the 110th Congress. Not a legacy many would want to be running on next year, assuredly.