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Jeb criticizes Hilary for not supporting FastTrack
Howard Richman, 4/23/2015

On Wednesday, Presidential candidate Jeb Bush strongly positioned himself in favor of giving President Obama FastTrack power so that he could negotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty without Congressional amendment. In an op-ed (Hillary Clinton’s Politically Motivated Flip Flop on TPP is Wrong), he wrote:

I have no problem supporting TPP.

We’ve worked with some of our most important allies in negotiations to help make this possible — and asked them to take political risks of their own to open their markets to American goods, agricultural products, and services. It sends a terrible signal this late in the negotiations for Sec. Clinton to pull the rug out from under our allies for a short-term political gain.

As governor of Florida, I led 15 trade missions to numerous countries across the globe, including Mexico, Israel, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada, Colombia and Germany. I know what it means to create strong agreements to help attract investment, jobs, goods and services. I saw the impact firsthand as Florida became a mecca for trade to and from Latin America and Europe. Florida benefited from these agreements.

Jeb is right to criticize Hillary Clinton on trade. Democratic candidates for President say one thing when they are running, but do the opposite once elected. Their flip-flopping on trade should, indeed, be an issue. 

In Jeb's favor, this op-ed also says something positive about his political courage. Jeb wants to give President Obama the "Fast-Track" power to negotiate the TPP treaty without any possible amendment by Congress. In contrast, most Republican voters want Congress to restrain Obama's power. According to a recent poll:

Two-thirds (68%) of Republicans say they are less likely to vote for a Member of Congress who votes to give President Obama fast-track authority. Among the conservative Republicans who dominate many primary electorates, this figure is an extraordinary 74%.

Obama may use that power to permanently destroy America's borders and economic future. For example, Dick Morris discovered that the negotiations so far would open America's borders to unlimited treaty-mandated immigration from Mexico and Central America. 

Unfortunately, Jeb hasn't learned from the biggest mistake made by his brother. Increased exports don't help a country if imports increase even faster. By letting trade cheaters run intentional trade surpluses that gave us huge trade deficits, President GW Bush presided over eight years of declining American medium incomes. By the end of his presidency, his party had lost both branches of congress and the presidency.

TPP includes three countries that are already active trade cheaters (Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan). All three run intentional trade surpluses in order to steal their trading partners' industries. And they are not the only countries that would likely use TPP to cheat. Mexico didn't start cheating until after NAFTA passed. 

As a result of TPP, our trade deficits would rise. The "free trade" treaty negotiated by Presidents GW Bush and Obama with trade-cheating South Korea has already cost the United States 100,000 jobs according to University of Maryland economist Peter Morici.

And it's not just manufacturing jobs lost. Investment and research facilities follow the factories overseas. America goes into relative economic decline, accompanied by a decline in relative military power. We need candidates who can learn from past mistakes, not candidates who keep repeating them.

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  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

    Journal of Economic Literature:

  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

    Atlantic Economic Journal:

  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]