The House, as John noted, has thwarted President Obama’s attempt to expand his trade negotiating power, casting considerable doubt over whether he will be able to secure the Pacific trade accord he craves (and which, in my opinion, America could use). Despite a furious last-minute lobbying effort by Obama, only 40 House Democrats voted in favor of “trade adjustment assistance” to workers unemployed as a result of free trade, a program Democrats have long supported and that was crucial to passing legislation the Senate would enact.
Peter DeFazio (D-Ore) was at the meeting this morning during which Obama tried to win over House Dems. According to DeFazio:
The President tried to both guilt people and impugn their integrity. I was insulted.
Join the club.
Another House Democrat told CNN that Obama “was fine until he turned it at the end and became indignant and alienated some folks.” Ah, the fabled Obama charm.
I disagree, however, with the view that the Democrats’ refusal to budge in the face of Obama’s efforts at persuasion stem from his poor relations with congressional Dems. The Democrats are steadfastly opposed to free trade on ideological ground. Accordingly, it’s highly unlikely that Bill Clinton could have obtained the support of many more than 40 House Dems on this issue. Heck, I doubt that Lyndon Johnson or FDR could have.
Speaking of Bill Clinton, his wife has declined to take a position on this controversy. It’s the 2016 campaign version of voting “present” in the Illinois legislature. As Rudy Giuliani said, I didn’t know you could do that.
One House Democrat told CNN that “Ms. Clinton should take notice” of today’s vote. I’m sure she has.
This is not her husband’s Democratic party. After today, you can argue that it’s not even Barack Obama’s.