Topics: Barack Obama

Defend the Constitution, say 'no' to fast-track authority for Obama

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Congress,Op-Eds,Barack Obama,Tea Party,Constitutionality

President Obama wants Congress to surrender its constitutional authority and grant him “fast-track” trade promotion authority.

Republican representatives Steve Stockman and Louie Gohmert of Texas, and more 170 other House members from both sides of the aisle, are saying no.

The rest of the House should join them. Why should they want to give Obama more power over the U.S. economy?

Under fast track, Obama would be able to sign commercial trade agreements before Congress even votes on them.

Congress would not be able to amend the agreements in any way. It would have only an up-or-down vote under limited debate.

There’s just one problem: Fast track violates the Constitution.

The Founders understood that humans are liable to abuse power, so they constructed a system of checks and balances to prevent any one man from having too much power.

They gave the president the authority to negotiate treaties, but required Congress to approve them. In the same fashion, Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress, not the president, exclusive authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations — trade.

Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 75 states why they set it up this way:

"The history of human conduct does not warrant that exalted opinion of human virtue which would make it wise in a nation to commit interests of so delicate and momentous a kind, as those which concern its intercourse with the rest of the world, to the sole disposal of a magistrate created and circumstanced as would be a president of the United States."

Why does Hamiliton say not to trust the president to make deals with other nations?

"[A] man raised from the station of a private citizen to the rank of chief magistrate, possessed of a moderate or slender fortune, and looking forward to a period not very remote when he may probably be obliged to return to the station from which he was taken, might sometimes be under temptations to sacrifice his duty to his interest, which it would require superlative virtue to withstand. An avaricious man might be tempted to betray the interests of the state to the acquisition of wealth."

Or, to put it in plain English: A president, knowing he will be out of office, would be tempted to sell out his country to get rich.

The Founders predicted this two centuries before Beltway lobbyists prowled the corridors of Washington offering politicians money (in the form of campaign donations) that comes from every corner of the earth.

Obama would use fast-track power to ram the TransPacific Partnership agreement through Congress.

Congress could not amend or change the agreement in any way. There would be an up-or-down vote on a timetable dictated by the president — after he has already signed the agreement.

As then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said about Obamacare, Congress would have to pass the bill to find out what's in it.

The TPP has problems above and beyond fast track. It "diplomatically legislates" policies that undermine our national sovereignty, which Congress would never approve under normal procedures.

TPP establishes tribunals of unelected, unaccountable, foreign bureaucrats with the power to override our laws and even rewrite our tax code without consulting the U.S. Congress or courts. They would constitute an authority higher than the Supreme Court.

The Constitution is clear: Congress gets to make trade deals — not the president. If the Congress and the president want to change that, they need to amend the Constitution.

Besides the two main authors, these individual Texans also contributed to this article: Bob Hall, Canton Tea Party; Dale Huls, Clearlake Tea Party; Bill Hussey, Llano Tea Party; Alice Linahan, Voices Empower; Julie McCarty, North East Tarrant County Tea Party; Ray Myers, Kaufman County Tea Party; Michael Openshaw, North Texas Tea Party; and Sharon Roberts, Texas for 56.

Cathie Adams is state leader of the Texas Eagle Forum. Jo Ann Fleming is executive director of Grassroots America -- We the People.
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