Politics

Obama Calls Ryan, McConnell on the Carpet

President seeks GOP partners to jam trade pact down Congress's throat

The chieftains of the Republican Establishment walked into the den of America’s leftist leader — that is, the Oval Office — no doubt to discern pernicious areas of “cooperation” they could pursue. Adding to the danger, one of them even got free food from the White House kitchen.

Given that the GOP and President Obama have collaborated on debt increases and a massive new world order trade deal, there is ample room to worry.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had lunch Tuesday with President Obama as the president looks to secure his legacy during his final year in office. The lunch followed a meeting that included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Vice President Joe Biden.

Obama’s words and actions have made it clear he doesn’t intend to play the lame duck in 2016. To buttress whatever he plans to decree by executive fiat, he intends to work with the GOP-controlled Congress to see what he can achieve constitutionally.

At a news conference prior to the meetings, Ryan called for “constructive” action, Washington code for making deals with the opposition.

“We are all angry that the country is headed in the wrong direction,” Ryan said. “But the key here is take that anger and channel it constructively into action.”

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The likely area of cooperation is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the job-killing, anti-sovereignty “free-trade” deal that Obama has made the signature part of his presidency’s trade agenda. Both White House and congressional sources confirmed that TPP was a topic of conversation on Tuesday. Unfortunately for hard-working and liberty-loving Americans, securing the GOP’s cooperation on the TPP might not be such a difficult task for Obama.

[lz_bulleted_list title=”TPP at a Glance” source=”New Zealand Government”]12 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, USA & Vietnam|Eliminates import tariffs, hurting U.S. workers|ISDS provisions subject U.S. to potential legal challenge from foreign companies|Enforces SOPA-style regulations on digital content[/lz_bulleted_list]

In a damning indictment of the strength of moral principle within the congressional GOP — not to mention the extent to which the GOP Establishment exists to serve massive corporations with vested interests in globalization — the majority of congressional opposition to the TPP has come from Democrats.

The Trade Promotion Authority fast-track legislation Obama needed in order to sign the TPP was overwhelmingly supported by Senate Republicans — only five opposed — and a vast majority of Republicans in the House supported the legislation as well.

It is highly unlikely that Ryan, who personally led House efforts to garner GOP support for the TPA fast-track legislation, would make any serious attempt to scuttle Obama’s trade agenda. Although in November 2015 Ryan said he would “reserve judgment” on whether to endorse the TPP, he also described the trade agreement as having “a lot of promise.”

Ironically, the main opposition to the Establishment’s support of the TPP has come from McConnell. McConnell warned Obama in December that trying to push through a congressional vote on TPP would be a “big mistake.” Still, his statements suggest he might be amenable to pushing the legislation after the 2016 election in a lame duck session of Congress, when his Senate majority will no longer be under threat.

“It certainly shouldn’t come before the election … I think the president would be making a big mistake to try to have that voted on during the election. There’s significant pushback all over the place,” McConnell said.

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The Kentucky senator has voiced concerns with language in the TPP that may allow foreign countries to take a greater role in regulating tobacco products, a major export from the Bluegrass State.

The TPP encourages the transfer of American jobs to less developed nations, and would subject certain U.S. regulations to supranational oversight. It leaves Americans subject to laws created in foreign lands, by foreign people, with foreign interests.

Other topics discussed by Obama, Ryan, Biden and McConnell include the financial crisis in Puerto Rico, the heroin epidemic ravaging the country, Biden’s “cancer moonshot” initiative and criminal justice reform, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday afternoon in a briefing.

Absent from Earnest’s list was national security, a subject widely reported to be on the table leading up to Tuesday’s luncheon — specifically Obama’s decision to change a visa entry program for foreign tourists to allow individuals who have recently traveled to or are dual-citizens of terrorist hotspots to enter the U.S.

In addition to fine White House cuisine, many things were on the table Tuesday. What deals were struck — and the damage they can do — remain to be revealed.

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