Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Quickies: The “Fast-Track” Trade Bills

     These bills have been represented as everything but a cancer cure. Their supporters claim they would be nothing but good for America. Their opponents denounce them as a stroke against Americans’ jobs and general well-being. Both arguments are irrelevant.

     Mike Flynn makes the only salient point:

     It is almost impossible to verify these claims, however, as very few people actually know what’s contained in this trade deal. The current draft is literally locked away in a room in Washington. Only members of Congress are allowed to even review the current treaty language. Any notes they take of the treaties details are confiscated at the door when they leave.

     Obama used his presidential prerogatives to classify the bills, such that only persons with a security clearance are permitted to know what’s in them. Moreover, the bills’ classification level – Confidential; Secret; Top Secret; the rarefied levels above – is also unknown to the public, so even those of us with security clearances can’t be sure we’d be allowed access to them, apart from the esoterica of “need to know.”

     Lawmaking in secret. Reaction 1: How much more un-American can you get? Reaction 2 comes a bit more sedately: How does this compare with the lawmaking of the early Republic?

     Before the emergence of high-speed communications and mass media, all federal lawmaking was done in secret, though de facto rather than by conscious intention. However, that’s not a reason to relax about the TPP and TAA bills, for in those early days there was a strong (albeit inaccurate) presumption that Congress would remain within its Constitutional limits...and before the creation of the huge military necessitated by our involvement in the wars of the Twentieth Century, once the citizenry heard about a Congressional transgression, it could do something about it.

     Things aren’t what they used to be, eh, Gentle Reader?

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