Weekly Address: President Obama – Stand Up for American Workers and Pass TAA

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, the President reiterated that his top priority is to grow the American economy and ensure that every hardworking American has a fair shot at success. It’s because of this commitment that the President has worked to enact smart new trade agreements that level the playing field for our workers, open new markets for our businesses, and hold other countries to the kinds of high standards that Americans are proud to hold ourselves to here at home. On Friday, Republicans and Democrats in the House took an important step by voting to help the United States negotiate and enforce high-standard trade deals. But they also failed to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance, despite the fact that it provides vital support to about 100,000 workers, and passed the Senate with bipartisan support. The President urged the House to pass TAA without delay so that more middle-class workers can earn the chance to participate and succeed in our global economy.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Stand Up for American Workers and Pass TAA

Hi, everybody. My top priority as President is to grow the economy and help more hardworking Americans get ahead. And after the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes, our businesses have now created 12.6 million new jobs over the past 63 months.

That’s a record streak of job creation. And it’s come as we’ve been working to reform our schools, revitalize manufacturing and the auto industry, revamp our job training programs – and rework our health care system, covering more than 16 million uninsured Americans so far.

We’ve done all of this to rebuild our economy on a new foundation, a foundation for growth that benefits not only us, but our kids, and their kids. Because we do live in a new economy. And we’ve got to adapt to make sure America leads the way in this new century, just like we did in the last.

Part of that means sparking new sources of growth and job creation that keep us on the cutting edge. And one big way to do that is through smart new trade agreements that level the playing field for our workers, open new markets for our businesses, and hold other countries to the kinds of high standards that Americans are proud to hold ourselves to here at home.

Simply put, America has to write the rules of the 21st century economy in a way that benefits American workers. If we don’t, countries like China will write those rules in a way that benefits their workers.

Now, on Friday, Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to help the United States negotiate new trade deals that are both free and fair – deals that expand opportunity for our workers and our businesses alike. And that’s good. These kinds of trade deals say no to a race for the bottom, for lower wages and working conditions. They’re about starting a race to the top, for higher wages, and better working conditions, stronger environmental protections, and a smarter way to crack down on countries that break the rules of the global economy.

But that’s not all we should be doing for our workers. Right now, something called Trade Adjustment Assistance provides vital support, like job-training and community college education, to tens of thousands of American workers each year who were hurt by past trade deals – the kind we’re not going to repeat again. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have voted to renew this initiative, but so far, the House of Representatives has chosen to let it expire in just a few months, leaving as many as 100,000 American workers on their own. For the sake of those workers, their families, and their communities, I urge those Members of Congress who voted against Trade Adjustment Assistance to reconsider, and stand up for American workers.

Because these smart new trade deals aren’t just about growing our economy and supporting good new American jobs. This is about the kind of country we want to build for our kids and our grandkids. And if I did not think that smart new trade deals were the right thing to do for working families, I wouldn’t be fighting for it.

This is the right thing to do. Trade that’s fair and free and smart will grow opportunity for our middle class. It will help us restore the dream we share, and make sure that every American who works hard has a chance to get ahead. That’s a cause worth fighting for – today, and every day I have the honor of serving as your President.

Thanks everybody, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.

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  5 comments for “Weekly Address: President Obama – Stand Up for American Workers and Pass TAA

  1. JanF
    June 13, 2015 at 8:16 am

    I believe the president:

    … if I did not think that smart new trade deals were the right thing to do for working families, I wouldn’t be fighting for it.

    This is really the main question … do we set the standards or do we let China set them?

    Simply put, America has to write the rules of the 21st century economy in a way that benefits American workers. If we don’t, countries like China will write those rules in a way that benefits their workers.

    To be 100% pure … but to be on the outside looking in … may not be the best answer.

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  2. June 13, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Okay, I’m confused. I thought TAA was a bill to enable passage of the TPP, which my reading has assured me would very bad for American workers. Have I got it wrong? I’m not sure I understand it all properly.

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    • JanF
      June 13, 2015 at 10:28 am

      It could hardly be more confusing with all the acronyms … and all the rhetoric.

      TAA is Trade Adjustment Assistance, something that already exists and which provides millions of dollars in help to workers displaced by past trade deals (and potentially harmed by this one). It needs to be extended and the plan was to extend it with the Trans-Pacific Pact.

      The TPP that was passed yesterday is the fast-track, the TAA was the sweetener which made it palatable to Democrats. If the TAA is not passed with the TPP, the Senate has to vote again because the bill will no longer be what they passed. It is unlikely it would pass in that form.

      The best I can tell is that Nancy Pelosi would like to use passing the TAA to get some concessions from the Republicans on some other bills including infrastructure improvements.

      This whole thing has exposed, once again, that Boehner does not have a governing coalition: he has two Republican factions which do not have similar goals. In order to pass any bill that will also be passed through a filibuster in the Senate and signed by the president, he has to have a lot of Democrats on board. Minority Leader Pelosi won’t given him that. So while this can be seen as a rebuke to the president, it is in the short term, a strategic move on the part of the Democratic minority. The next vote on TAA will be Tuesday and we will see how that all plays out.

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    • JanF
      June 13, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Here is some more on the sausage making:

      By a bipartisan vote of 126-302, the House rejected a provision expanding trade adjustment assistance for workers who will inevitably be buffeted by the unforgiving winds of the global economy.

      That vote came moments after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced her own opposition to the plan, even after she had worked to pave the way for its passage all week. Without her support, conservative House Republicans bailed, reasoning that they no longer had any reason to go along with a program that necessitated an increase in taxes (through an increase in the late-filing fee) to make a trade vote more palatable to Democrats. […]

      Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called for an immediate vote on “fast track” even without the job training sweetener intended to gain Democratic votes. It passed, 219-211.

      That vote kept the trade package alive, but it still needs some form of trade adjustment assistance in order to win Senate support. Practically speaking, that needs to come next week, or it probably won’t come at all.[…]

      Pelosi suggested one path out of the tangle: Tying passage of the trade deal to a job-creating highway bill that Democrats would support.

      Stay tuned!

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  3. JanF
    June 13, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    In the News: The failure of the “everybody does it” defense

    Republican operative sentenced to 2 years in landmark election case

    A former Republican political operative convicted in the first federal criminal case of illegal coordination between a campaign and a purportedly independent ally was sentenced Friday to two years in prison — a lighter punishment than prosecutors sought but one that still served as a sharp warning.

    Under questioning from U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady, Tyler Harber said: “I’m guilty of this. I knew it was wrong when I did it.” But Harber said he was not motivated by greed or a lust for power — he simply wanted to win an election and believed that what he was doing was a common, if illegal, practice. […]

    Harber, who managed the unsuccessful 2012 congressional campaign of Chris Perkins in Northern Virginia — admitted in February that he helped create a super PAC and arranged for it to buy $325,000 in ads to help Perkins’s campaign, then lied to the FBI about his misdeeds. Federal prosecutors hailed Harber’s guilty plea and sentence as “an important step forward in the criminal enforcement of federal campaign finance laws,” and they indicated that they are ramping up scrutiny of the close ties between political campaigns and their ostensibly independent supporters.

    Quick, grab your tiny violin!!!

    Harber’s defense attorneys argued that a sentence of a year and eight months was more appropriate. They asserted that Harber, a married father of two, was already financially ruined and unlikely to ever again work in the field where he was once a rising star.

    Good. And I hope that he serves as a warning to others for whom the end (“winning elections”) seems to justify the means (“breaking federal law”).

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