Remember when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of Obamacare, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”?
Remember when we foolishly thought voting Republican would mean a change in that kind of imperious attitude?
Well, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan brought to mind both those memories last night when he testified in front of the House Rules Committee.
After being questioned by Republican Rep. Michael Burgess about the secrecy surrounding the Obamatrade bill, Ryan snapped, “It’s declassified and made public once it’s agreed to.”
In case you’ve not been following it, the Obamatrade bill isn’t just about the president making international treaties, it’s about giving the president so-called “fast-track” authority to make agreements and put them into force without having to run them past Congress, as required in the Constitution.
It’s a profusion of initials, so strap yourself in.
The immediate issue is the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which is the fast-track authorization bill.
That bill specifically would allow President Obama to fast-track three likewise secret bills that are apparently very far-reaching — the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). Potentially, the TPA bill could allow Obama to swoosh even more agreements past Congress legally.
Here’s the extra-fun sauce on top of this hard-to-swallow meal: T-TIP and TiSA are totally secret, not available to be seen even by members of Congress, who are being asked to take it on faith that the president is acting in the best interests of the country.
(Um, hello? Have you guys seen the guy you’re about to give double-secret super powers to?)
The TPP agreement is available to members of Congress — if they go into the secret vault and enter the Cone of Silence, without any staffers to help, without any recording devices or even so much as a pencil and notebook, and so long as they don’t talk to anyone afterward about what they read.
These secret trade deals could shape the future of relations with numerous pan-Pacific nations and charge up the economy — or they could ruin us and all our neighbors — for generations to come.
The whole Obamatrade deal is not just another instance of Obama whipping out his executive pen to once again circumvent Congress and screw the country. In those cases, Congress usually just shrugs and checks what’s on the menu in the congressional lunchroom.
Rather, this is an example of Congress openly, flagrantly, castrating itself and serving up the results to Obama on a gold platter, with the Constitution as his napkin.
And it’s the Republican leadership that’s leading the charge. This was the deal Speaker John Boehner made with Democrats in order to cut out the Tea Party and any real conservatives from power in this Congress.
The circle of betrayal is complete.