As Congress moves to approve fast-track trade authority for President Obama, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., continues to rail against the danger of free-trade agreements.
"The fundamental problem [is that] America’s current trade policy makes it nearly impossible to enforce rules that protect hard-working families, but very easy to enforce rules that favor multinational corporations," she writes in The Boston Globe
"For example, anyone who wishes to enforce rules that impose labor or environmental standards must plead with our government to bring a claim on their behalf .... The Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations have rarely brought such claims, even in the face of overwhelming evidence of violations."
Strong enforcement is necessary so that "American workers won’t have to compete against 50-cent-an-hour foreign laborers," and so that countries with "terrible environmental records" follow through on promises to raise their standards, Warren says.
Obama sought fast-track authority to ensure congressional passage of a free-trade agreement with Asia — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). A Senate vote Wednesday virtually assured approval of the fast-track authority.
Most free-market economists support fast-track authority. But Ralph Benko, senior economic adviser for advocacy group American Principles in Action, isn't one of them.
"There is another point of view," he writes on Forbes.com
. "America’s great supply-side founding father, Alexander Hamilton, was, of course, no enemy of tariffs."
While that was 240 years ago, Nobel laureate, supply-side economist Robert Mundell told Forbes.com in 2013, "'it has been a mistake to let U.S. manufacturing run down so low,'" Benko explains.
"'While other nations have industrial policies to maximize their trade benefits, the United States leaves itself open like a naked woman. A big problem is with nations that may prove to be future enemies.' Strong words,'" Benko notes.
However, Forbes Media Chairman Steve Forbes urges adoption of TPP and the free trade agreement with Europe that is likely to be completed under the next president — the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
"In today's globalized 21st-century economy, it's critical to strengthen relationships with our global trading partners," Forbes writes in Investor's Business Daily
"Adopting TTIP and TPP will strengthen our economy by removing barriers to new markets and increasing exports as well as foreign direct-investment in America."
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