Who says Congress can't get anything done? Granted, they can't pass any measures that would help the American worker at a time when 1 in 10 are unemployed. The bulk of Obama's jobs bill remains stuck in limbo, unlikely to ever come to a vote. And of course, it wouldn't stand a chance in the House anyway.
But when it comes to free trade, bipartisanship has never been stronger:
Both the Senate and House sent the free-trade agreements to the White House with large bipartisan majorities — marking a rare moment of congressional agreement amid months of partisan bickering over jobs and the economy.
The Senate approved the Panama deal 77-22 while the agreement with South Korea passed 83-15 and Colombia 66-33.
At a time when people are engaging in mass demonstrations around the country over the lack of jobs, the enthusiasm and bipartisanship over free trade is downright surreal. Despite assurances from business organizations that these deals will create jobs, the evidence suggests otherwise:
...Robert Scott, the director of trade research at the Economic Policy Institute, says the economic boon has been wildly overstated. The trade deals with Colombia and Korea will in fact kill more than 200,000 American jobs through outsourcing in the first seven years after the plan is enacted, Scott says. Although he expects American exports to increase due to the agreements, he says American imports will increase at a much greater rate, widening the country's already significant trade deficit.
"The only people who benefit are the top 10 or the top 1 percent who run or manage multinationals," says Scott. "They get very wealthy from outsourcing."
In other words, these agreements would only seem to exacerbate the ongoing employment crisis. As the International Business Times notes:
If emerging markets...continue to trigger the transfer of jobs out of higher labor-cost production centers such as the United States, the U.S. could see unacceptably high levels of unemployment linger for even longer than current projections of 8 percent unemployment through at least 2014. Also, if outsourcing continues at its current pace, job growth could remain inadequate.
Strangely, Obama and the Democrats seem content to let this potentially job-killing measure sail through without demanding an up or down vote on the American aspects of the "American Jobs Bill."
Granted, not everyone is happy:
The approval of the pacts, in a rare bipartisan collaboration, is a big victory for President Obama, who sold the deals as a key step toward bolstering job growth. But it angered liberal groups and labor unions that say the agreements will hurt working Americans by subjecting them to additional foreign competition and accelerating a race to the bottom on wages.
All three agreements passed easily in the Republican-led House, over the objections of most Democratic lawmakers. The Senate passed each deal by a strong majority, overcoming opposition largely made up of liberal Democrats and lawmakers representing onetime industrial hubs.