Third Party & Independents Archives

Why is Senator Corker Being So Annoying?

Bob Corker can be a really annoying senator. Now that he realizes that he’s not going to be a member for much longer of the world’s most exclusive club, he’s lashing out and pointing fingers and subverting things.

Who does he think he is?

Welp, maybe he actually is a frustrated lawmaker who really does care about the power of Congress and how the Executive has basically been handed - and sometimes grabbed - an increasing share of power that the Constitution never really intended it to have.

Like laws on trade, which are laws about jobs and money. Which are things Congress is supposed to rule on.

Hence his "cult" criticism of the GOP, where he blamed their fear of President Trump for their inaction, rather than a process that has been happening for generations now. He had to make it personal, like so many critics in the age of Trump, rather than making it about the Constitution. Of course, aside from the fact that he does seem peeved at Trump (could it be because he didn't get a Cabinet appointment?), he also ensured that he made headlines and that his proposed amendment, which will not be voted on apparently, gets more than its fair share of media time.

Senator Corker's beef is with Section 232 of the 1962 U.S. Trade Expansion Act, where tariffs can be imposed by the executive for "national security" reasons. As Peter Navarro likes to say, when he's not sending photogenic Prime Ministers to the fires of hell.

Ok, yes section 232 is about giving the president the executive authority to impose tariffs in very special situations (the bill was signed the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis - National Security was a life and death issue then). But merely gaze at the title of the bill: this was a bill To. Expand. Trade. Not. To. Contract. It.

Congress gave President Kennedy the executive authority to LOWER tariffs which - along with taxes thank you President Eisenhower - were way too high. The 1962 U.S. Trade Expansion Act resulted in the Kennedy round of the GATT talks. These talks went on for decades until finally in 1995, the World Trade Organization or WTO finally took shape. Section 232 was an exception, granted because the world was, and is, a dangerous place, not because German cars are well made and sell like hot cakes.

Unless you view Section 232 as a chisel to chip away at the base of the WTO and bring it's edifice to the ground, especially if you're an advisor like Peter Navarro. Fine and well; Navarro really does believe that America has been dealt a lousy hand, or at least that American manufacturing and workers have been cheated out of sales, jobs, and livelihoods.

The question is: who gets to decide that issue? Senator Corker believes it is Congress and that it's time to take back it's power over spending bills and bills like those on trade and tariffs and that his amendment is a small step back from the brink.

And voters? They want results: better jobs, better wage increases, better public schools, and lower premiums for their healthcare. That is, those voters who put Trump in the White House. If this is a hardball negotiating tactic that will end up opening markets to a greater extent and improving transparency - lower tariffs on dairy products up in Canada, as well as less outrageous theft of intellectual property on the part of China, and even a few lowered barriers in the EU - then Trump will have scored a major, major victory.

If, on the other hand, we slide into a series of trade skirmishes that sap confidence and undercut a booming economy, then Navarro will look like the crazed and vengeful maverick that he is. But if Trump manages to use people like Navarro to get results on trade, it will be a most artful deal.

Right now, it's hard to be too optimistic on this issue, but we don't know that Trump's tactics won't work. However, it's worth remembering that Trump has never been a proponent of free trade, rather a proponent of fair trade. And he and Peter Navarro see a lot of unfair trade, whatever economists and actual trade data (like a surplus with Canada) say.

So maybe Corker's right to be angry, even if he really doesn't have to get as personal as the president does. Does he?

Posted by AllardK at June 14, 2018 7:09 PM
Comment #428043

Stephen, you’re rambling around into incoherence. May I remind you that Blarney is at the opposite end of Ireland from your home county.

Corker is as worthless as you seem to be describing in some part of your writing. He would be licking Dumpty’s boots if he had gotten what he wanted, but apparently doesn’t understand that dismantling the State Dept was going to be done under Putain’s orders no matter who was in charge.

Posted by: Ohrealy at June 14, 2018 7:37 PM
Comment #428130

Canada is not a national security threat.

Posted by: Elliott at June 18, 2018 12:51 PM
Comment #433001

There are so many critics in the age of Trump, rather than making it about the Constitution. Of course, aside from the fact that he does seem peeved at Trump.

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