Trade Means Freedom and Prosperity
I was honored to address the nation on free trade this weekend by giving the Weekly Republican Address.
Trade means prosperity. More markets for American products means more jobs and higher wages for American workers. More products entering our economy means more consumer choices and lower prices.
But here’s the problem: unfair trade regulations, labor standards, high taxes and foreign subsidies often put American workers at a real disadvantage. To remove these barriers, we have to negotiate trade agreements to put Americans back in the game under fair and equal rules.
The Constitution gives Congress the authority to regulate commerce with other nations. Congress thus has the final say over any trade agreement, but trading partners must have confidence that once the agreement has been reached, it represents the last best offer of both sides – a meeting of the minds that won’t be repeatedly altered after the fact.
That is why, since the 1930’s, Congress has chosen to exercise its responsibility by establishing the broad terms of the agreement it seeks and then giving explicit instructions to our negotiators at the beginning of the process. IF, and only IF, these objectives are advanced in the agreement, Congress will then consider it as a whole package and either approve it or reject it.
That process is now called “Trade Promotion Authority.” It has stood the test of time, has been used to the great benefit of our nation in the past and has never been controversial until now.
From the left, the opposition comes from protectionist special interests. They fail to learn from the painful lessons of history. Protectionism is the fastest way to destroy an economy, as this nation has learned repeatedly, including during the Jefferson administration and again in the Hoover administration.
From the right, opposition comes from mistrust of this President’s judgment and competence, a mistrust I completely and unequivocally share.
It is precisely because of this mistrust that I support this bill. Without it, he can negotiate anything he wants. Trade Promotion Authority binds him to the will of Congress before the agreement is reached. IF — and only IF — he meets Congress’s objectives, will Congress then agree - not necessarily to past the agreement - but only to vote on it after the American people have had their say.
Like many of you, I am particularly concerned about illegal immigration. This bill forbids the President from making any changes to our laws, including our immigration laws.
The free exchange of goods – whether between people or nations – means that both sides go away with something of greater value to themselves – or the trade wouldn’t take place. Freedom creates prosperity, and the greater the freedom, the greater the prosperity. Trade Promotion Authority is the means by which this freedom is advanced – for ourselves and for our children.
Freedom works. And it’s time that we put it back to work.