In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom…
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Image of the Day: More Economic Freedom = Higher Standard of Living

In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom, which shows that Joe Biden has dragged the U.S. down to 22nd, our lowest rank ever (we placed 4th in the first Index in 1995, and climbed back up from 18th to 12th under President Trump).  As we noted, among the Index's invaluable metrics is how it demonstrates the objective correlation between more economic freedom and higher citizen standards of living, which this graphic illustrates:

 …[more]

May 19, 2022 • 12:53 PM

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Free Trade: Congressional Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) Legislation Merits Conservative Support Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, June 11 2015
The issue of free trade, however, has little to do with Obama, who has little more than a year left in the White House in any case.

The post-World War II epoch has witnessed greater prosperity and economic growth than any in human history, due largely to free trade under American guidance. 

In contrast, the years preceding World War II were characterized by the most severe global depression in history, as nations withdrew behind protectionist barriers. 

Centuries before that, European nations ascended through increased trade with other global cultures, whereas empires like China declined in power and prosperity after opting for withdrawal.  More recent Chinese history provides a similar textbook illustration, as it suffered under Mao's attempt at isolation and self-reliance but finally began to prosper after opening its borders and pursuing reform.  Hermit nations like North Korea versus free-trading nations like Switzerland provide additional confirmation of this obvious lesson of history and economics. 

Conservatives and libertarians in particular should support free trade and legislation before Congress renewing trade promotion authority (TPA), given their respect for open markets and fewer government impediments to voluntary commerce.  That's precisely why leaders like Congressman Paul Ryan (R - Wisconsin) and Senator Ted Cruz (R -Texas) stand among TPA's most enthusiastic supporters. 

Unfortunately, some otherwise conservative voices have mistakenly decided to obstruct TPA legislation and counterproductively encourage others to join them. 

That sentiment is somewhat understandable, given the current White House occupant.  Barack Obama has done almost nothing to earn the trust of conservatives and libertarians during his presidency.  For that matter, he has forfeited the trust of liberals as well, considering the litany of unanimous or near-unanimous Supreme Court rebukes over his abuses of power. 

The issue of free trade, however, has little to do with Obama, who has little more than a year left in the White House in any case.  Moreover, TPA legislation doesn't concoct new executive powers for Obama.  Rather, it allows whatever president occupies the White House over the next six years to negotiate free trade agreements and send them to Congress for a straight yes-or-no vote.  The reason that's important is that trade partners will be less willing to negotiate if agreements will only be subject to micromanagement and endless revision by various members of Congress.  TPA simply streamlines the negotiating process, as the conservative National Review confirms: 

"Trade promotion authority (once called 'fast track' authority) has been the way the U.S. has negotiated such agreements for decades now.  It was the means by which every modern trade deal, including sweeping agreements such as the creation of the World Trade Organization, has been approved.  Renewing the president's trade authority isn't aggrandizing his power;  rather, refusing to pass it would curtail his ability to accomplish an important foreign-policy goal." 

Moreover, the TPA bill codifies Congressional prerogatives and presidential limitations to ensure that this isn't the surrender of legislative authority that opponents claim.  Namely, members of Congress will possess the right to read negotiating text, demand a briefing from the U.S. trade representative's office during negotiations and attend negotiations with the presidential delegation.  Additionally, the TPA text states that both Congress and the American public will receive at least 60 days to examine the details of any proposed trade agreement before a president can sign it.  And keep in mind that all the while, Congress maintains its natural and existing power to simply reject by simple majority vote any trade agreement proposed by the White House. 

Another line of argument opponents offer is that free trade somehow exacerbates the U.S. trade deficit.  The facts, however, show the opposite, as Senator Cruz and Congressman Ryan themselves explain: 

"If you add up all 20 countries that the U.S. has a trade agreement with, American manufacturers run a $50 billion trade surplus with them.  The problem is that not all countries have a trade agreement with the U.S.  American manufacturers run a $500 billion trade deficit with those nations.  That is why the U.S. needs effective trade agreements to lay down fair and strong rules that level the playing field." 

That stands to reason, since the U.S. inherently tends to maintain fewer trade barriers than other nations. Consequently, whenever we sign free trade agreements, the practical effect is that those partners' barriers come down, opening them to more American exports. 

Finally, some free trade opponents falsely claim that TPA will undermine American sovereignty or Constitutional rights.  That claim contravenes settled law, as the Supreme Court has confirmed that no treaty or executive agreement can contravene any specific provision of the Constitution.  Nevertheless, for good measure, the TPA's text explicitly states that, "No provision of any trade agreement entered into ... nor the application of such provision to any person or circumstance, that is inconsistent with any law of the United States, or any State of the United States, or any locality of the United States, shall have effect." 

Conservatives and libertarians by nature and principle favor fewer governmental barriers to free trade and market openness.  Accordingly, TPA legislation before Congress deserves our support, false criticisms seeking to derail it notwithstanding. 

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"The trial of former Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann crossed a critical threshold Friday when a key witness uttered the name 'Hillary Clinton' in conjunction with a plan to spread the false Alfa Bank Russian collusion claim before the 2016 presidential election.For Democrats and many in the media, Hillary Clinton has long held a Voldemort-like status as 'She who must not be named' in scandals…[more]
 
 
—Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University
— Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University
 
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