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Pundits weigh in on trade fight

The House is slated to vote on granting President Obama fast-track authority on Friday, and pundits from both sides of the aisle aren’t holding back ahead on the contentious issue.

{mosads}The debate has united many who are often at odds on Obama’s agenda, with conservatives worried about giving him more powers and liberals concerned about trade’s effect on U.S. jobs. Trade promotion authority (TPA) would clear the path for the president to negotiate the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal.

Here’s how pundits are weighing in on trade:



Pat Buchanan: On his blog, the conservative commentator and one-time presidential contender warned Republicans to oppose expanding Obama’s trade powers. “If the GOP agrees to this, it will, in its first great decision, be engaging in an act of self-castration,” he wrote.

Lou Dobbs: The Fox Business Network host questioned GOP support of fast-track, stating that “the Republican leadership seems to lose its way occasionally, and now wants to give away its constitutional power on trade.” He called Senate leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) “hell no” stance against TPA wise.

Matt Drudge: The conservative icon has hammered Republicans on Twitter for backing fast-track, calling the imminent vote “the Night of the Republican Suicide.” His website regularly highlights articles questioning the secrecy around trade talks.

Hugh Hewitt: The conservative radio host conveyed his support for TPA in an interview with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). “Hey, you’re out on the road promoting trade promotion authority, and we’ve been talking a lot about it. I’m a big proponent of it,” he said.

Laura Ingraham: The radio talk show host called the bill proceedings too secretive and criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for supporting the president’s legislation “when in fact Republicans don’t trust him on a whole host of issues of really important issues.”

Sally Kohn: The liberal political commentator criticized Obama over trade in an op-ed for CNN. “President Obama is marking the disastrous legacy of free trade policies by working with Republicans to push for even more bad trade deals that would benefit big businesses at the expense of America’s economy and workers,” she wrote.

Paul Krugman: The economist and New York Times columnist calls himself a “lukewarm opponent of the deal.” “[T]his is not a trade agreement. It’s about intellectual property and dispute settlement; the big beneficiaries are likely to be pharma companies and firms that want to sue governments,” he wrote.

Mark Levin: The conservative radio host has hammered fast-track. “How can Republicans support a trade deal that’s kept secret from the American people?,” he tweeted. Another tweet claimed, “A no vote is a vote against empowering Obama and his own agenda.”

Rush Limbaugh: “Republicans are providing the necessary push to get it passed, which kind of bothers me,” the radio host told listeners, according to The Huffington Post. “Since it’s an Obama deal, the odds are it isn’t good… the United States is gonna take it in the shorts, as we have on so much of the Obama agenda, both domestic and foreign policy.”

Michelle Malkin: The conservative writer tweeted at Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to oppose fast-track, writing “no transparency. NO credibility.”

Dana MilbankThe Washington Post columnist accused trade supporters of keeping the deal a secret. “Obama won’t let his trade pact face the test of scrutiny. His disregard for congressional allies is as self-defeating as his dismissal of the public’s right to know,” he added.

Dick Morris: The Fox News analyst and columnist for The Hill accused Obama of wanting fast track to open the door to “unrestricted immigration.”

Bill Press: The liberal radio host evaluated the pressing concerns opponents have with President Obama and the TPP trade deals in a column published in The Hill. Press emphasized the importance of trade relations with Asia, but also stressed the lack of openness throughout the bill. “Yes on fair trade. No on fast-track,” he wrote.

Michael Savage: The conservative radio host took on “trade treason” in a broadcast. “I’m with the liberals and labor unions on this. I’m totally opposed to the Republican big businessmen on this. I’m sorry,” he said.

Ed Schultz: The liberal MSNBC and radio show host called the Pacific trade deal “a job killer.” “It’s an outsourcer and it’s not something that is going to help our economy get on a roll,” he said.



Hank Greenberg: “We have to get fast track with Congress and the president,” the former AIG CEO said on FOX Business Network’s “Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo.” But Greenberg said the Pacific trade deal should also include China. “It doesn’t include China and I think that’s a terrible mistake.”

Charles Krauthammer: “Fast track has been the norm for 81 years. And the final say on any trade agreement rests entirely with Congress,” the conservative Washington Post columnist and Fox News pundit wrote.

Joe Nocera: The New York Times business columnist wrote that the TPP has “a lot more potential to do good than harm.”

Condoleezza Rice: In a Washington Post op-ed, the former George W. Bush secretary of State cited China’s rise as a trading power and said the U.S. needs “an active trade agenda to strengthen its own economy.”

Karl Rove: The Republican strategist and Fox News contributor expressed his support for fast-track on Twitter, calling it the “1 thing I agree with POTUS about.”

George Will: The conservative pundit wrote that House GOP members should understand “a vote for TPA is not a vote for Obama” and that rejecting fast-track would mean “punishing the nation without meaningfully disciplining the President.” 

This story was updated at 4:02 p.m.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified MSNBC’s Chris Hayes as a supporter of fast-track.

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