President Obama on Thursday took a battering ram to his liberal critics on trade, saying those who claim new trade deals are bad for working families “don't know what they're talking about.”
Obama delivered a fiery speech at the Organizing for Action summit in Washington, designed to enlist his base to support the fast-track trade bill his administration says is crucial to finalizing a pair of international agreements at the top of his agenda.
The president told his allies he is pursuing a pair of new trade deals with European and Asia-Pacific nations because they are “the right thing to do,” even if they are unpopular with Democrats and labor unions.
“When people say this trade deal is bad for working families, they don't know what they're talking about,” he said. “I take that personally. My entire presidency has been about helping working families.”
Obama said the new agreements contain unprecedented protections for U.S. workers, human rights and the environment.
“We’ve got to compete,” he said. “We’re not going to stop a global economy at our shores.”
Obama is ramping up his sales pitch to Democrats, many of whom oppose trade promotion authority bills because they worry new deals with European and Asian nations would hurt American workers.
They also say the administration has not been transparent in sharing details of the trade proposals.
Obama dismissed those claims, comparing them to talk about “death panels” during the ObamaCare debate, a phrase coined by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
“Someone coming up with a slogan like ‘death panels’ doesn’t mean it’s true,” he said. “The same thing is true on this. Look at the facts, don’t just throw a bunch of stuff out there.”
The president said Democrats' concerns about past trade deals, such as NAFTA, should not stop him from pursuing new ones.
“You need to tell me what’s wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago.”