At President Obama’s news conference today he spoke about the need to ratify free trade agreements (FTA’s) with Korea, Columbia and Panama. He spoke the same words in his January State of the Union Address stating that ratification “will support at least 700,000 American jobs”. One would think, based upon these two events, that the President favors these agreements. He doesn’t, unless, of course, he can get what he wants.
What the President didn’t tell the American public in either “speech”, speaks volumes.
According to Gene Sperling, a White House economic aide,
I just want to stress that one of the things that we are making clear…is that the Administration will not submit implementing legislation on the three pending FTA’s until we have an agreement with Congress on the renewal of a robust, expanded TAA program consistent with the objectives of the 2009 trade adjustment assistance [TAA] law … [emphasis supplied]
TAA was originally intended to provide job retraining, job search, health care and wage subsidies to those workers in the manufacturing sector who lost their jobs due to trade agreements, using, of course, taxpayer money to do so. In 2009, under President Obama, TAA,
was expanded to include service and government workers…and it increased the health-care subsidy and extended the time a worker is covered. [emphasis supplied]
In February of this year, Congress eliminated the 2009 expansion of the TAA program because it was basically a union slush fund, and, coincidentally, we couldn’t afford it.
Now, the President is holding the free trade agreements hostage, and, it’s anyone’s guess how many jobs, until Congress agrees to reinstate his 2009 union slush fund…some $2 billion a year.
The President didn’t exactly say that today, did he?