At 3 pm today, the Senate Finance Committee was supposed to hold an "un-mark-up" of the implementing legislation for the three NAFTA-style deals.(For the background on this arcane Fast Track procedure, see our book here.)
But all the Republicans on the Committee boycotted the hearing, so Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) called it off.
"Unions and other anti-trade zealots gleefully use TAA data to make the case that trade causes outsourcing and job loss... Instead of helping build the case for trade, TAA certifications are used to show that trade is bad. In the end TAA really is just a government subsidy for anti-trade propaganda."
Yes, reality is so uncooperative with corporate spin sometimes!
Not that the administration's stance is much more coherent. As our own Lori Wallach told Politico,
“For most Americans, what’s newsworthy is not that the administration is pushing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which effectively is a job burial insurance program, but that pushing a deal on TAA is being used as political cover to move more NAFTA-style trade agreements that will kill more American jobs in the first place, especially given our high unemployment rates.” Wallach added. “The point that’s gotten lost in all this wrangling over TAA is that the three leftover Bush trade deals are bad in and of themselves.”
It's unclear what comes next. Senators had lined up a raft of amendments to the FTAs, on everything from restricting abortion rights to restroring the TAA health care credit funding that the Obama administration had agreed to reduce from current levels. There's still time to shelve the deals, reverse course, and actually have Obama make good on his commitments to truly overhaul our failed trade policy. We'll be watching, and out in the streets over this Fourth of July weekend around the country.