Chameleon Paul Ryan Adapts to Trump’s Nix on TPP

Written by Paul Kane, 1-24-17, at Washington Post:


Flash back to 2015 –

Paul Ryan, who was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee at the time, played the lead role in legislation granting special fast-track rules for trade deals for the last months of Barack Obama’s presidency and the first few years of the new administration. The measure won support from 194 Republicans in the House and 48 in the Senate; that’s nearly 80 percent and 90 percent, respectively, of the GOP caucus in each chamber.

As the gavel fell on a critical vote advancing the global trade agenda, Rep. Paul D. Ryan pumped his arm, fist-bumped three Republicans and high-fived another.

Fast forward to January 2017 –

On Monday, President Trump delivered a knockout blow to that agenda. On his first full work day in the Oval Office, Trump formally withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade pact among a dozen nations that was supposed to have been eased into passage by Ryan’s leadership 19 months ago.

Trump’s actions demonstrate his seriousness about reversing decades of Republican orthodoxy on globalism — a pledge he renewed during Friday’s inaugural address, when he committed to an “America first” agenda.

These actions also show the rocky road that may lie ahead for congressional Republicans on a range of policy issues. On Thursday, Trump and Vice President Pence will join their Republican brethren at an issues retreat in Philadelphia to talk about getting on the same page.

If past is prologue, Trump won’t be asking for the Hill’s help. He’ll be telling his fellow Republicans to get on board or step out of the way. They, in turn, will be figuring out how to stick to their principles while also positioning to play a role in Trump’s success.


chameleon02In 2016, both Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell stated that support for the deal had collapsed in both chambers. Why? Because presidential candidates including Trump and Bernie Sanders had successfully portrayed it as a bad pact for American workers.

When a handful of candidates can turn around a deal such as this by merely talking about it, it tells us that the Republicans didn’t really have faith in the bill nor did they truly believe it was good for the US. This reflects how easily Republicans can cast aside their ‘principles'( which is nothing new) when confronted with overpowering opposition. They’re behaving just as they did with O – they merely shrug their shoulders and accept the consequences.

Rather than see themselves as an equal body with equal standing demanding a discussion first, they are chameleons who change their colors according to their environment and the current king.

Whether the TPP is actually good for the US or not isn’t the point. The point is our Congress gave up their principles long ago and just recently changed their colors from blue to red.


Categories: Political

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2 replies

  1. I’m honestly not sure how to evaluate this one, Kathy. Obama led the way on TPP. Bernie Sanders hated TPP. What is a girl to think? If you read some of what Ted Cruz had to say about it, there’s also a distinction between “fast-track” and the ultimate TPP agreement. I would like to trust that Trump’s goal of “America first” would motivate him to do what’s in the best interests of the American people; but the problem is that even among the American people there are competing interests between producers, workers and consumers. Whose interests are the top priority? I personally wouldn’t go so far as to say Paul Ryan is unprincipled, but he doesn’t understand conservative principles the way someone like Ted Cruz understands them, which means I have no confidence that he’ll do the right thing.

    I know you were focusing on a different point but I just want to bring up this comment by Paul Kane:

    “Trump won’t be asking for the Hill’s help. He’ll be telling his fellow Republicans to get on board or step out of the way.”

    “…get on board or step out of the way” ??

    How does Trump proceed on something like TPP without Republicans? He works with Democrats, that’s how. There’s a scary thought. I may not trust Paul Ryan’s instincts on TPP but I don’t trust Trump either, not when he’s cozying up to the unions.


    • I remember there was so much controversy over this treaty and much misunderstanding, mostly because people didn’t realize the difference between the TPA and TPP. Cruz and others were in favor of the TPA (fast tracking it) because it gave them better control over the content of the TPP.

      Where others had not yet taken a stance, Ryan said ‘approving a massive trade package sought by President Obama will allow the U.S. to “write the rules” of the global economy’, which tells me he was in favor of both.

      Giving up on it so easily when Trumped nixed it is what makes me think he’s unprincipled – that and other stances he’s taken. He rolled over every time O gave the command and he’s doing it now for Trump. Perhaps there was a private conversation about revisiting it that we’re not privy to – we’ll just have to wait and see.

      That statement about getting on board or get out of the way concerns me too. Trump is using the same tactics O did in going around Congress instead of working with them and in my view that makes him no better than O. Regardless of which side of the aisle a president is on, that’s not how our government is designed to work. If he’s so stinking smart he’ll ask for legislation to support some of these EOs, otherwise they’re no more lasting than the ones O crammed down our throats.

      Liked by 1 person

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