This morning, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke to Bill Bennett on his show Morning in America. Chairman Ryan discussed the imperative of expanding American trade with other countries and the way TPA holds the president accountable throughout trade negotiations. Excerpts of his appearance are below, and audio of the entire conversation can be found here.
On the importance of trade agreements:
“The reason we need trade agreements with other countries is two-fold. Ninety six percent of the world’s consumers live in other countries; they don’t live in our country. And if we want to have a mature economy where we have more jobs, higher-paying jobs, we have to make and grow more things in America and sell them overseas so we can keep full employment—you know, more people working. So we have to open [markets] to our products. That’s point number one.
“Point number two is all these other countries are going around getting trade agreements for their countries that are better, that give them more access to these foreign markets. And, as a result, Americans don’t get access to those markets, which means we face higher barriers and we can’t sell our products to other markets. China is a perfect example. They’re running around the world right now trying to get better trade agreements to meet China’s needs, to run by China’s rules. And so, right now what’s happening in this global economy is the rules of the global economy are being written, and the question for us is: ‘Who writes those rules?’ Is it China writing those rules, for China’s benefit? Or are we going to write the rules, for our benefit?”
On holding the administration accountable:
“Trade promotion authority is done in a way this time very differently than others because of our mistrust of the executive. So, we tell the executive—meaning, in this case, Obama—and the next president: Here’s what you need to put in a trade agreement, here’s how you go about getting it. You have to be transparent. Members of Congress have to see it. The public has to see these agreements before they’re signed to. And Congress reserves the power to veto it. Congress gets the final say. Congress has to approve it. And if the president doesn’t put together the kind of trade agreement, the process we spell out, then we can say: ‘You didn’t do it the right way.’ And we can revoke trade promotion authority and that trade agreement. So, we’re putting sort of a belts-and-suspenders approach to making Congress, the legislative branch, in charge of this so that the executive cannot go beyond his reach.”
On leveling the playing field for American workers and job creators:
“[W]e think we have done this in the right way, and the president has to go out and get the right kind of an agreement. We want to open our dairy markets. We want to open our agriculture markets, our manufacturing. Here’s the deal, Dr. Bennett. We already give these countries—in this particular case I’m talking about Asia, non-China Asian countries—we already give them pretty good access to our country. Just walk into Wal-Mart or Farm & Fleet or wherever you go, and you’ll see a bunch of goods made in Asian countries. The problem is they don’t give us the same kind of access to their markets. So what we’re trying to get here is the same kind of access to their markets that they have to ours and to give us zero tariffs.”