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House Speaker's stall tactics could hurt Trump's economic boom

Stephen Moore on

Wouldn't it be wonderful if for one brief shining moment in Washington, Congress put good policy over politics -- and passed a bill that would benefit American workers, investors and businesses?

We haven't had a true bipartisan victory in Washington for seemingly ages, but we are tantalizingly close to getting there. This would be the passage of the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA).

Both parties want this modernized version of the North American Free Trade Agreement to pass. It is the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. But this latest modernized trilateral trade deal for North America hasn't happened yet because of an endless parade of stall tactics by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

She is blockading a vote of the 435 members of the House of Representatives. The odds are very favorable that Democrats and Republicans would provide enough yays to pass it and move it on to the Senate, where the trade deal would be approved by a wide margin. The whispering campaign on Capitol Hill is that Pelosi is worried about giving Donald Trump a "win," so she's inventing flimsy excuses for endlessly delaying a vote.

Her strategy might have some credibility if she had credible objections to this modernized trade deal, which Trump carefully crafted with trade negotiators from our neighbors Canada and Mexico. First, Pelosi said she wanted more worker protections in the trade deal. But this bill actually has stronger job and wage protections for American workers (some of which I think go too far) than the old NAFTA.

Trump insisted on those broader labor protections for the auto and other blue-collar workers in many of those Midwestern states that have seen middle-class job losses.

 

She continues to broach the idea of attaching a pension bailout bill to the trade deal. That pension bill has nothing to do with trade. It would also potentially cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars to bail out mismanaged labor union pension funds. This is Pelosi's way of throwing a wet kiss to the union bosses as payback for their support in helping her become speaker.

An even wilder idea is a scheme by Democrats to force Trump to allow the United States back into the Paris climate accord -- a $100 billion tax on Americans -- as the ransom for passing USMCA.

These are obvious poison pills, and the speaker knows it. Trump would never allow the U.S. into the climate treaty, and many fiscally conscientious Republicans would withdraw their support for the USMCA if they were forced to endorse these giant new taxpayer liabilities for obese pensions.

Then there's Pelosi's ploy to reopen the trade deal to repeal the hard-won patent protections for American pharmaceutical companies. Pelosi is acting as though this is a giant "giveaway" to the U.S. drug companies that would raise prices for American consumers.

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