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Congress Passes 3 Trade Agreements "and" TAA Funding Bill

Both chambers of Congress passed all three free trade agreements on Wednesday, along with the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill. (TAA) While the Colombia, South Korea and Panama trade agreements were fast-tracked through Congress in an apparent move to appease President Obama’s wishes for a photo-op with the S.Korean President whom is visiting the White House today, there was some Democratic opposition to the agreements. Most House Republicans supported the trade agreements while many House Democrats opposed them, while in the Senate several Democrats joined with Republicans to get the bills passed and sent to the President for signing into law.

The exact vote totals were 278-151 for South Korea, 300-129 for Panama and 262-167 for Colombia. The Senate votes were 83-15 for Korea, 77-22 for Panama and 66-33 for Colombia.

One aspect of the free trade agreements that seems to be lost in the shuffle is that these trade agreements were originally signed by President G.W.Bush and sat on President Obama’s desk for three years before being sent to Congress. If these trade agreements will indeed create millions of jobs for Americans as is being stated by President Obama as “a major win for American workers and businesses,” then the long delay in sending them to Congress is simply inexcusable. What could have been behind the delay? What was Obama angling for? Was he holding these free trade agreements hostage for some form of political advantage?

Ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded that the House vote on the Senate-passed China Currency bill which House Republican leaders now oppose. In a move that explains why Barack Obama delayed in trying to move these trade bills, we see that in order to address Democratic objections to the deals, the White House demanded linking the trade bills to extension of a Kennedy-era program that helps workers displaced by foreign competition with retraining and financial aid. The Senate went along, and the House passed it Wednesday, 307-122. (TAA) The FAA bill (hr 2832) is a gift to Obama and the Democrat’s UNION bed-pals as I wrote about here.

The trade agreements include Panama, South Korea and Colombia. This deal now includes gifts for Unions via the Dept. of Labor’s innocuous-sounding TAA bill. (Trade Adjustment Assistance) These trade agreements have been sitting on Barack Obama’s desk since 2009 when the G.W. Bush administration finalized them. Why the long delay in sending them to Congress for debate and passage? If we look at the orginally linked article above, we see that just last week big labor Unions vehemently opposed these trade agreements:

“The deal sets up a bruising fight within the Democratic caucuses in the House and Senate, which are divided over trade. Most of organized labor opposes all three trade deals, which were negotiated by the Bush administration and have been dormant for years.” (emphasis mine)

So there we see big labor screaming objections to the free trade agreements that Obama said would be a major win for American business and workers.

So just how could the TAA bill be interpreted as a gift for Unions and big labor? First of all, after Congress agreed to the passage of the TAA bill, Unions then stopped protesting these trade agreements. Isn’t that a coincidence? Secondly, just what is the TAA bill? Again I refer to my previous article on the TAA bill:

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA) help trade-affected workers who have lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or shifts in production out of the United States. Certified individuals may be eligible to receive one or more program benefits and services depending on what is needed to return them to employment. (sounds good enough there)

First of all this TAA program is run by Obama appointee Hilda Solis‘ dept of labor–They will be saying who gets these benefits. Apparently if you do not belong to a GROUP, ( think union) don’t bother filing for any of these benefits, as we see next:

To obtain TAA or ATAA services and benefits, a group of workers must first file a petition with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance (OTAA) requesting certification as workers adversely affected by foreign trade. If certified, each worker in the group may then apply separately for individual services and benefits through their local One-Stop Career Center. ( emphasis mine)

This points to as to why unions are all of a sudden happy with these trade agreements. Hilda Solis is in charge of dishing out these “benefits.” Her main agenda of 2010 was stated as to enact some 90 new rules and regulations to give more power to unions. Now Solis and her dept of labor can also hand out plenty of cash to her beloved Unions thanks to the TAA payouts stuffed into the trade agreements. Did I mention that her father was a teamsters shop steward in Mexico? No conflict of interest there, when she was appointed to head the Dept of Labor, especially seeing that she was a board member of the pro-union American Rights at Work.

. A few more interesting TAA benefits from their website:

Up to 130 weeks of cash payments for workers enrolled in full-time training Up to 156 weeks of cash payments if the worker is also enrolled in remedial or prerequisite training.

Job Search Allowances 100% of allowable costs, up to $1,500

Job Search Allowances 90% of allowable costs, up to $ 1,250

Relocation Allowances 100% of allowable costs Provides an additional lump sum payment of up to $1,500

What is the cap on how many taxpayer dollars will be funneled to the “groups” under the FAA bill? How much will we be borrowing to pay for it? Did Barack Obama hold all three free trade agreements hostage by demanding the Union payoff that is innocently disguised as the TAA bill? Apparently so as we see here in an article from TheHill.com:

Under an agreement with the Senate and the White House, House GOP leaders will call a vote on a renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) legislation on Wednesday, immediately after the House approves trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

Extending TAA, which provides health insurance, worker training and other benefits to U.S. workers negatively affected by foreign trade, has been a Democratic priority, and the Obama administration for months refused to submit the three trade deals for congressional ratification without assurances from Republican leaders that the adjustment assistance would be renewed. The TAA program expired in February.

In summary, we saw that Barack Obama held the free trade agreements hostage in able to give (the TAA bill) big Union labor massive kickbacks, which were also demanded by Democrats in Congress. My own Florida Congressman Dennis Ross summed it up quite well, in a letter to Speaker Boehner, which fell on deaf ears:

In June, freshman Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) circulated a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) urging him not to allow Democrats to “hold hostage” trade agreements to win passage of the TAA, which he likened to “welfare spending” and socialism.

Footnote: Didn’t Congress promise to make all legislation available to We the People a minimum of three days prior to passage? While the original bill was available online for years, the changes made to it were not made available 3 days prior to passage. You can see the bill here.

Liz Berry sums it up pretty well in her blog post titled: The American Majority Were Officially Sold Out Today.

While many pundits say that Republicans have supported the TAA bill in the past, they did not in fact support the 172 changes mostly made by Senate Democrats to this latest version of the TAA bill. This is what happens when America refuses to pay attention to what Congress is doing today, while also ignoring what many of us are trying to warn them about, while these bills are being “fast-tracked through Congress for Obama’s photo-op with the President of S.Korea” today. 2012 just can’t get here fast enough.

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  1. WillofLa says:

    AND THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE WORLD ECONOMY!! The world economy are some developing countries that have gotten money from grants, and other forms of financing from the World Bank and the IMF, the International Monitary Fund. These people make loans to countries but for the purpose of imposing the World Banks, and the IMF’s agenda. They say, if you take this money we want you to use it for this or that purpose. And if you are some poor African country trying to set up an environment for economic growth for that countries people, in order that that countries people can have a better life. But do you know what kind of economic system that is being provided to the really poor people, it is Socialist, and Kenesian economic policies that is trying to help those people of those poor countries get out of poverty. But unfortunately under those economic systems, those people will never be out of poverty, really because they would never learn how to deal with the ups and downs that are normal in any FREE economy. Instead those people’s lives that are being supported by the government, and all support for the people is coming from the government, are being controled where there will be very little ups and downs unless the government wants that to happen. Under those kinds of Socialist governments there aren’t normal ups and downs in the economy, it’s more like restrictions of cash flowing from the government. As long as people are doing what the government wants them to do, the cash flows. But as soon as the people start acting like the money belongs to them, as it does in America, the government begins to shut the cash flow off little by little until the people get in line.

    That’s the way it would be here in America if our government continues to borrow money from foreign countries. Eventually those countries will want control over American’s and our lives. If they don’t want us to own our own business the cash is cut off. We don’t want that but, I think it’s getting that way under Obama. That’s what he understands is the kind of economy he wants for American’s. One where the government has control over your decisions. They control the money flow, you don’t.

  2. WillofLa says:

    I want to tell you American people that…….THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AMERICA COMPETING AGAINST THE WORLD ECONOMY. WE DO NOT HAVE AMERICAN BASED COMPANIES COMPETING AGAINST OTHER COUNTRIES SENDING THEIR PRODUCTS HERE TO COMPETE WITH OUR COUNTRIES PRODUCTS. IT IS A LIE! WHAT WE HAVE TO COMPETE WITH IS OUR NATIONS COMPANIES GOING OVERSEAS TO MAKE THEIR PRODUCTS WITH CHEAP LABOR, JUST TO SEND THEIR PRODUCTS BACK HERE FOR AMERICAN’S TO BUY. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAW A YUGOSLAVIA WASHING MACHINE DEALERSHIP IN YOUR TOWN? IT DOESN’T EXIST. THEY ARE ALL AMERICAN COMPANIES WE BUY PRODUCTS FROM THAT ARE MERELY COMING FROM A FOREIGN COUNTRY. THAT’S WHO WE COMPETEE WITH HERE IS OUR OWN COUNTRIES COMPANIES CHEAP LABOR. WE CAN’T LIVE IN AMERICA AND COMPETE WITH THAT CHEAP LABOR OVERSEAS AT TWO DOLLARS A HOUR. CAN YOU PAY YOUR HOUSE MORTGAGE ON TWO DOLLARS AN HOUR, OR BUY A NEW CAR AT TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND? THAT IS WHO WE KEEP HEARING WE’RE COMPETING WITH, AND THE GOVERNMENT WANTS TO PAY FOR OUR RETRAINING FOR SOME NEW CAREER BECAUSE WE LOST OUR JOB DUE TO “FOREIGN COMPETITION”. THERE IS NO FOREIGN COMPETITION. IT’S OUR OWN COMPANIES CHEAP LABOR WE COMPETE WITH HERE. LET THOSE FOREIGNERS COME HERE AND SEE IF THEY CAN LIVE ON TWO DOLLARS AND HOUR AND THEY WILL SEE THEY CAN’T EVER LIVE ON THAT KIND OF WAGE OUR GOVERNMENT THINKS WE CAN LIVE ON. IT’S ALL A LIE AND WE’RE BEING SCAMMED!!

  3. WillofLa says:

    I swear! How much of this kind of stuff goes on everyday? I’ve told people and told them, “You had better be paying attention with what is going on behind the scenes, when Obama and Pelosi are yakking about some issue to be put before the people by the media, CNN and Wolfe Blitzer, they are sneaking through bad stuff worth billions of dollars to us in higher taxes, and we don’t even know it!!

    I hate it to find out to late, as if I could do anything about something like this bill by only making a phone call to my Congressman. What happens when there is some real threat of something bad that is happening to us, and we want it stopped? I made a phone call to my Congressman the other day about something Obama said before one of his union get togethers, the IBE, and told them that he wasn’t going to wait on Congress to pass his “jobs bill”, and he and Valerie Jeriett and others in a group set up to search for ways Obama could go around Congress. I thought, “This is exactly how Obama gets away with stuff. He just bull dogs his way through with no regard to our laws. He doesn’t believe in the laws anyway.”

    I told the staffer in my Congressman’s office that I want Obama “stopped, and I mean stopped right now!!” What will it get done? How knows. This is the kinds of trade agreements that I have refered to before that do nothing but kill more American jobs. It opens more doors for American businesses to go overseas to do whatever else they would need to do to associate themselves with whoever it was that the trade agreements were written for. They figured out that if they go overseas themselves they can get the same money and treatment as whatever foreign country is getting the trade. Double dipping!! And the American worker goes wanting.