Prospects for Obamatrade dim as opposition in both parties grows

Yesterday, both the White House and the Republican leadership in the House were sounding optimistic that fast track authority for the president to conclude a trade agreement with 11 Pacific nations could be passed today.

But bipartisan opposition is threatening to blow the bill up, which would hand the president a stinging defeat on an issue he has actually worked a little to pass.

Politico:

Hours before one of the most consequential votes of President Barack Obama’s second term — whether to give him fast-track trade powers to clinch a sprawling Pacific Rim trade deal — Democrats and Republicans have no idea whether the votes are there to pass it.

What they do know is that pockets of opposition from every corner of the House of Representatives has thrown the package into serious jeopardy.

Facing the potential defeat of his top legislative priority, Obama is going to Capitol Hill at 9:30 a.m. to meet with House Democrats. He faces an enormous last-minute sales job.

Liberals fear they’re getting taken for a ride by a White House that doesn’t care about their interests. Conservatives don’t want to give a blank check to Obama, and vehemently oppose a must-pass job-training program. Labor unions have ginned up opposition on the left.

With that, the weeks-long trade fight is finally coming to a head, pitting labor unions and liberals against Obama, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has been noticeably silent until the past few days, is the big unknown.

Even top lawmakers and aides say the fate of the trade deal is anyone’s guess.

The centerpiece of Obama’s second-term agenda hangs in the balance because without a win tomorrow in the House, finishing the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership becomes all the more difficult.

To advance to a vote on the fast-track bill, the unpredictable House must first pass Trade Adjustment Assistance — an aid and training program for workers who lose their jobs to trade. But that bill — which is imperative to secure the roughly two dozen Democratic votes needed to pass the larger trade deal — appears to be in trouble.

Traditionally a Democratic favorite, TAA has gotten caught in a nasty spat between liberals, who are generally against fast track, and moderate Democrats and Republicans, who want to complete the Pacific trade package. Some Democrats initially opposed reauthorizing TAA because of a plan to use a small cut to Medicare to pay for it. That idea was scrapped, and many Democrats now openly say they want to defeat TAA in order to kill Obama’s bid for fast-track authority.

So what's changed?  In the last 48 hours, fence-sitting Democrats, once thought to favor the bill to prevent a humiliating defeat for their president, are apparently coming down in opposition to the bill.  No Democrat wants to be identified as the decisive vote – something that would put a great big target on his or her back, since unions have sworn revenge against Democrats who vote for the measure.  And conservatives in the House are also making headway by rejecting amendments that would supposedly prevent the president from altering immigration and climate change law in the treaty. 

The astonishing fact here is that neither conservatives nor liberals trust the president.  He has said one thing and done another so often to both Republicans and Democrats that the storehouse of trust that every president needs to govern is empty.

A defeat would mark the effective end of the Obama presidency.  Unfortunately, Obama isn't going anywhere for the next 18 months, which means he will continue to use his executive authority to get what he can't pass in Congress.

Yesterday, both the White House and the Republican leadership in the House were sounding optimistic that fast track authority for the president to conclude a trade agreement with 11 Pacific nations could be passed today.

But bipartisan opposition is threatening to blow the bill up, which would hand the president a stinging defeat on an issue he has actually worked a little to pass.

Politico:

Hours before one of the most consequential votes of President Barack Obama’s second term — whether to give him fast-track trade powers to clinch a sprawling Pacific Rim trade deal — Democrats and Republicans have no idea whether the votes are there to pass it.

What they do know is that pockets of opposition from every corner of the House of Representatives has thrown the package into serious jeopardy.

Facing the potential defeat of his top legislative priority, Obama is going to Capitol Hill at 9:30 a.m. to meet with House Democrats. He faces an enormous last-minute sales job.

Liberals fear they’re getting taken for a ride by a White House that doesn’t care about their interests. Conservatives don’t want to give a blank check to Obama, and vehemently oppose a must-pass job-training program. Labor unions have ginned up opposition on the left.

With that, the weeks-long trade fight is finally coming to a head, pitting labor unions and liberals against Obama, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has been noticeably silent until the past few days, is the big unknown.

Even top lawmakers and aides say the fate of the trade deal is anyone’s guess.

The centerpiece of Obama’s second-term agenda hangs in the balance because without a win tomorrow in the House, finishing the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership becomes all the more difficult.

To advance to a vote on the fast-track bill, the unpredictable House must first pass Trade Adjustment Assistance — an aid and training program for workers who lose their jobs to trade. But that bill — which is imperative to secure the roughly two dozen Democratic votes needed to pass the larger trade deal — appears to be in trouble.

Traditionally a Democratic favorite, TAA has gotten caught in a nasty spat between liberals, who are generally against fast track, and moderate Democrats and Republicans, who want to complete the Pacific trade package. Some Democrats initially opposed reauthorizing TAA because of a plan to use a small cut to Medicare to pay for it. That idea was scrapped, and many Democrats now openly say they want to defeat TAA in order to kill Obama’s bid for fast-track authority.

So what's changed?  In the last 48 hours, fence-sitting Democrats, once thought to favor the bill to prevent a humiliating defeat for their president, are apparently coming down in opposition to the bill.  No Democrat wants to be identified as the decisive vote – something that would put a great big target on his or her back, since unions have sworn revenge against Democrats who vote for the measure.  And conservatives in the House are also making headway by rejecting amendments that would supposedly prevent the president from altering immigration and climate change law in the treaty. 

The astonishing fact here is that neither conservatives nor liberals trust the president.  He has said one thing and done another so often to both Republicans and Democrats that the storehouse of trust that every president needs to govern is empty.

A defeat would mark the effective end of the Obama presidency.  Unfortunately, Obama isn't going anywhere for the next 18 months, which means he will continue to use his executive authority to get what he can't pass in Congress.