Sen. Sessions explains Obamatrade in key Senate speech
Senator Sessions’s floor speech against Obamatrade on Friday could go down as one of the most important Senate speeches ever. Already it is getting rave reviews:
- Rush Limbaugh hailed it (Odds are Obamatrade screws America): “Jeff Sessions had a massive op-ed piece and floor speech in the Senate about this.”
- Michelle Malkin gushed: “I wish that Sen. Jeff Sessions would run for president, because I would sign up in a heartbeat.”
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon set the stage for Sessions’s speech by lauding Obamatrade as “the most progressive trade policy in our country’s history” because it regulates much more than just trade:
Yesterday we talked about the labor and environmental issues once again, a very dramatic set of changes, and it’s why the president and I have said this is the most progressive trade policy in our country’s history.
You can watch Sessions speak here beginning at the 2:17:25 mark. During the first part of the speech, he discussed the economic implications of Obamatrade, pointing out, correctly, that U.S. trade deficits would worsen, thereby reducing U.S. economic growth and median income.
Then Sessions’s speech became electrifying as he explained the Living Agreement provision within the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the first of the secret trade bills that Obama is negotiating. Sessions’s entire speech is worth watching. But every American needs to read this passage carefully. Sessions said:
As a part of this trade agreement that I’ve mentioned before that I’m very concerned about, that’s gotten very little discussion and it needs to be discussed, and I want to take a minute to discuss it. According to the Congressional Research Service, our own group, the TPP's Living Agreement provisions is unprecedented. Indeed, I’m one of the few I think that went to the secret room to read the secret document, and when it described the Living document, it said it was “unprecedented.” I presume I won’t be arrested for making that quote from the secret document.
The United States Trade Representative’s website is very candid about the purpose of this living agreement provision. It is to "enable the updating of the agreement as appropriate to address trade issues that emerge in the future as well as new issues that arise with the expansion of the agreement to include new countries."
It creates a commission, another commission, consisting of representatives from each member nation, which has vast powers to govern the agreement, and govern, to some degree, the countries who participate in it. Among the power given to the commission is the authority to consider any matter relating to implementation and operation of the agreement and to consider amendments and modifications.
What we have to understand is that this is a new entity, an international entity of which we are a member and it gets to meet and vote and set new behaviors, unlike what we approve in the Senate. But it can be amended as time goes by. And it’s unprecedented. This has not been done before.
Sessions tried to figure out how this new commission would be governed. According to TPP Chapter Summary, a book given to senators when they enter the secret room where the current draft of the treaty is housed, this commission would be governed the same way as the WTO, meaning that a two-thirds vote from country representatives could amend the agreement.
When Congress approves these treaties, it will be delegating its right to amend these treaties to the Commissions created by these treaties. When Sessions read the TPP treaty, he discovered that some countries have exempted themselves from treaty regulations, so he proposed an amendment that would exempt the United States.
Unfortunately, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, floor manager for the bill, prevented Sessions’s amendment from receiving a vote. On the Senate floor on Thursday (see the 09:07:38 mark), he explained why he wanted to pass Obamatrade. According to Hatch, the bill would:
- Prevent online violations of U.S. copyrights.
- Punish governments who steal and share U.S. trade secrets.
- Require the elimination of foreign price controls on U.S. pharmaceuticals.
- Prohibit requirements that U.S. companies register their patents abroad.
Apparently, there is an implicit agreement between the Republican establishment and President Obama. The Republicans get to regulate intellectual property rights around the world. Obama gets to regulate environment laws, labor laws, and immigration laws around the world, and in the United States.
At the Paris summit in early December 2015, Obama will negotiate a climate agreement. We already know from Obama’s joint announcement with China that he will commit the United States to a huge reduction in carbon emissions of 26%-28% from 2005 levels, but he will let China, already a much larger carbon emitter, continue to expand its carbon emissions until 2030.
After the Paris summit, it is almost inevitable that the climate change treaty terms that Obama negotiates will be placed into these treaties. If they are not in the negotiated language of the environmental chapters of these treaties, they will be added later by the Commissions, set up by these treaties.
Only five Republican senators stood up against Obamatrade: Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Susan Collins, Richard Shelby, and Jeff Sessions. Obamatrade now goes to the House, where Republican leaders Boehner and Ryan will try to ram through “the most progressive trade policy in our country’s history.”
Howard Richman with his father and son co-authored the 2014 book Balanced Trade: Ending the Unbearable Costs of America’s Trade Deficits, published by Lexington Books, and the 2008 book Trading Away Our Future, published by Ideal Taxes Association.