Time to pass trade bills minus trade adjustment assistance

The Albuquerque Journal’s Washington correspondent Michael Coleman recently had an excellent article on the various trade bills now being held up by the Obama Administration. The Administration is now sitting on trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama because of something called Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

Basically, TAA is a payoff ($1.3 billion in 2011) from the rest of us taxpayers, to those workers who have supposedly been impacted negatively by free trade. Disregard the fact that free trade benefits everyone, as Adam Smith pointed out many years ago:

It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy.. . . If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage.

With Obama holding up job-creating trade agreements, it is no surprise that Democratic Sens. Udall and Bingaman as well as Lujan and Heinrich all want their payoff for going along with the agreement. Sadly, even Rep. Pearce (at least as quoted in the article) isn’t completely opposed to TAA.

These trade agreements would be a shot in the arm to the US economy. The fact that Obama is sitting on them is the amusing but obvious result of big-labor’s influence. Republicans and Pearce need to strongly support these agreements while opposing the wasteful spending inherent in TAA