WASHINGTON -- The debate over granting President Barack Obama fast-track authority to negotiate and approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is coming to the Republican presidential primary campaign in New Hampshire.
Americans for Limited Government, a conservative group founded by wealthy activist Howard Rich, will begin radio ads in New Hampshire on Thursday, calling on Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to oppose the fast-track legislation moving through Congress. All three senators are running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
“Congress is getting ready to give Obama more power, just when we’re getting ready to choose his replacement,” the ad says. “If Congress gives Obama fast-track power, he’ll use it to write more regulations for our economy -- for the entire world. Rules that the next president won’t be able to change.”
Listeners are told to “Tell Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul” to vote against the fast-track legislation. It further states, “We need a real conservative, not another politician who says one thing and does another.”
The ad shows how the trade deal has divided conservatives, despite the perception it has widespread Republican support. Groups like the American Jobs Alliance, United States Business and Industry Council, Tea Party Nation and Eagle Forum have announced opposition to the pact. The Americans for Limited Government ad directs listeners to the American Jobs Alliance website, Obamatrade.com.
Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government, explained why conservatives should oppose the trade deal in a statement on the group’s website. “Proponents of the Pacific trade deal face irreconcilable problems that on one hand, they bemoan Obama’s executive regulatory overreach in areas like amnesty, Obamacare, and Net Neutrality, yet, they claim that Congress should cede to the same president an enormous grant of power that eviscerates the advice and consent treaty ratification process. You can’t be pro-Constitution with one press release and in favor of shredding it in the next and call yourself a constitutional conservative.”
In December, 19 House members, including some who did not return to the current Congress, sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) echoing these concerns.
“The habitual abuses of power by this president have eroded the faith of the American people, who no longer trust his judgment or leadership,” they wrote.
The targets of Americans for Limited Government’s ad campaign have voiced varied levels of support for granting the White House trade promotion authority.
Rubio and Cruz have both backed trade promotion authority, while Paul has sent mixed messages. The first-term Kentucky senator told The Huffington Post in December, “I'm definitely for the trade pact. I haven't fully decided on" Trade Promotion Authority.