Harry Reid Calls Barack Obama’s Trade Deal 'Insanity'

| by Ethan Brown
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans have joined together to advance trade legislation, despite prominent Senate Democrats publicly criticizing the legislation and the president.

The legislation, known as Trade Promotion Authority, will grant powers to the White House, for any administration in the future, to fast-track trade deals with foreign nations through the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate without having to deal with legislative amendments or filibusters that will waste time and hinder the chance of any legislation getting passed, The Huffington Post reported.

The new powers would make it easier for President Obama to start the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new trade deal that would make up nearly 80 percent of the global economy.

The previous international trade legislation, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was signed in former President Bill Clinton’s first term. That legislation only covered 10 percent of all global trade and critics have compared the two trade bills, focusing on their negative impacts on the market.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, has publicly criticized the president for supporting the legislation.

“It causes huge job losses. As Einstein said, you keep doing the same thing over and over again, and you expect a different result, that’s the definition of insanity. We can look at these trade bills over the years — every one of them without exception causes to Americans workers job losses. Millions of job losses. But yet they’re going to try the same thing again and hope for a different result. That’s insanity,” Reid commented.

Reid has had a well-known ally in his campaign to defeat the bill in Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat who is known for her liberal views on education and the economy.

The president fought back against them in a statement: “I would not be promoting any agreement that I didn’t think at the end of the day was going to be creating jobs in the United States and giving us more of an opportunity to create ladders of success, higher incomes and higher wages for the American people, because that’s my primary focus.”

Earlier on May 21, the Senate voted 62-38 to continue the legislation and will likely later make changes to it, including more severe punishments for countries that continue to manipulate their currency to gain ground in the global economy. Specifically, China, considered the world's second largest economy, has illegally “fixed” its currency so more businesses will continue to manufacture products in the country.

Sources: The Huffington Post, The Hill

Photo Credit: Center for American Progress Action Fund/Flickr