When President Obama took office in 2009, he found these three trade deals on his desk. They were previously brokered deals that Democrats had blocked in Congress. Estimates at the time suggested they could create billions of dollars in new export revenue for the United States, and access to these markets would create jobs here at home.
But the president brushed them aside, doing the bidding of the labor union bosses that had backed his campaign. Then earlier this year, as he cobbled together a "jobs plan," he called on Congress to pass these trade agreements—pretending this was a bold new idea. Not only was it not new, it was misleading. Republicans wanted to pass them for years, but the president wouldn't do his part and submit them to Congress.
Even then, President Obama stalled for another month before finally sending those trade pacts to Capitol Hill. Once they're enacted, they'll provide a boost to the economy by making U.S. exports more attractive to foreign consumers. But think about what we've lost while the president delayed.
Based on estimates from the International Trade Commission, the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea could increase U.S. exports by $11 billion annually. Over two and half years, that adds up to over $27 billion Obama effectively robbed from U.S. companies.
In the meantime, the European Union's trade agreement with South Korea took effect. The president stalled to win political points, and America lost jobs, revenue, and opportunity.
But that's just South Korea. In Colombia, the United States missed out on another billion dollars a year. Even Democratic Sens. John Kerry and Max Baucus wrote in April, "Each day we fail to act costs American jobs and sales—and sends them elsewhere." Our unemployment rate is above 9 percent, and Obama's inaction meant we lost jobs to China, Argentina, and Europe as they increased their trade with Colombia.
You would think the president would learn from this mistake. But he's doomed to repeat it once again—and it will cost more jobs. It's a result of his unrealistic and irresponsible demand that his American Jobs Act be an all-or-nothing proposition.
After his September speech to Congress outlining his plan, it became immediately apparent that it would meet bipartisan opposition in Congress. Many of his proposed tax increases had been defeated when Democrats controlled both houses. And even senators in his own party knew his new spending proposals were the same failed policies of the first stimulus.
President Obama ignored that reality and crisscrossed the country for a month demanding Congress "pass this bill right away." He knew it couldn't, but he needed a campaign prop. Republicans, for their part, were ready to work with Democrats on areas of agreement. The president shunned their offers.
On Tuesday, though, the inevitable happened: Democrats and Republicans in the Senate said no to the All-or-Nothing-Jobs-Bill. By the next morning, Democrats were offering to work with Republicans on proposals they could all support. Yet were it not for the president's campaign plans, that work could've started a month earlier. So, how much longer will the president sacrifice the economy for his political ambitions?
The president knows he cannot get re-elected on his record. The economy is flailing, and Americans are hurting. His only path to victory relies on misrepresentation and cynical political ploys. He's used the American Jobs Act to knock Republicans in hopes of boosting his political prospects. But the truth is Republicans have been working hard for months; they've passed over a dozen bills in the House that would spur job creation. The president and Senate Democrats, though, have sat on their hands.
It's time for President Obama to truly make jobs his number one priority. The campaign can wait. The American people cannot. Republicans want to get this economy moving. There's no more time for the president's self-interested delay tactics.
Better late than never, sure, but "late" is not good enough.
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