A few snippets that caught the under-caffeinated eye:
—On immigration reform, don’t watch Rubio, watch Boehner. That’s what Wonkblog says this AM, and I agree. In fact, at the risk of being too reductionist in regards to what is obviously a complicated bill and legislative process, whether the bill becomes law is a function of whether Rep Boehner is willing to break the Hastert rule. That’s the informal rule that says the majority party shall not allow a vote on a bill that the majority party cannot carry with their votes.
Boehner has alluded to the possibility that if he doesn’t have a majority-of-the-majority in support of reform, he won’t allow it to come up for a vote. I suspect he’s just saying that. At the end of day, breaking Hastert makes great political sense for the R’s: let a bunch of House R’s oppose it so they can go home and tell their supporters as much, while, in the interest of the party’s future, allow the bill to pass, even if it takes a majority of D’s.
—Here come the crazy numbers on TTIP: Here’s one bit of news coming out of the G8 summit where leaders are meeting to discuss, among other things (including Syria), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership—the TTIP between the US and EU. President Obama called for completing work on the treaty in his last State of the Union address, and the plan was to make some headway on it at the summit currently underway in Ireland.
Together, the economies of the EU and US account for half of global GDP and trade between us is already quite robust, with relatively low tariffs. Still, we’re often squabbling about matters large (the EU’s subsidies to the Airbus consortium; regulatory oversight for food and drugs) and small (French subsidies to their (inefficient but picturesque) small farmers). If a trade deal can smooth out issues like those, great.
But reader beware of a bunch of quantitative speculation that is already coming your way on this. Stuff like: “[t]he deal…would be worth £100bn to the EU economy and £80bn to the US economy…” or this, that just landed in my inbox, which purports to tell us the impact of the perspective trade deal on incomes and jobs in something like 126 countries.
I doubt that an actual TTIP (as opposed to the one’s you’ll see simulated in coming months) would have a large effect of trade flows between us, because a) the deal will likely accommodate, not eradicate, initiatives like Airbus and the protection of treasured wines (and TV shows!), and b) again, the barriers just aren’t that high, so I wouldn’t expect bringing them down to be a huge deal (average tariffs between the US and EU are around 3-4%). And of course, let the record show that we too subsidize our farms and our Boeings, and these subsidies have survived many a “free trade” agreement.
So I advice you to arch the eyebrow and read with the jaundiced eye when The Economist breathlessly proclaims that the TTIP would constitute a legacy for President Obama, leading to “More jobs, more investment, more growth.”
I could be wrong and this time trade barriers will fall like never before. My point here is that we don’t know, so we should avoid the usual claims—on either side—that are trotted out the minute some diplomat suggests a treaty. If you really want to get a feel for the impact of a deal like this, you actually have to slog through the negotiations. Assumptions about the textbook benefits of free trade won’t help you because the real world works nothing like the textbooks, especially in this realm.