Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in an op-ed on Tuesday criticized President Barack Obama’s delay in finalizing three free-trade deals, saying that unions are holding the administration hostage.
In his op-ed, which appeared in the Washington Post, McConnell wrote that the hold-up on these deals with Colombia, South Korea and Panama stems from unions demanding concessions in exchange for giving the administration their support.
At the start of the agreement process, McConnell noted that the unions asked for political reforms from the trading partners, which were accepted, but now they are also insisting on taxpayer money for worker training programs.
“These delays have put America at a major economic disadvantage, costing jobs and opportunities,” McConnell wrote. “As the president has been holding out over the demands of labor union leaders, other countries are benefiting from free-trade deals of their own.”
And now, he wrote, four years after the trade agreements were originally signed, “the United States is losing ground.”
McConnell slammed Obama’s handling of the economy, writing that for the administration it seems “no economic proposal is acceptable unless Washington is firmly at the helm, and no amount of evidence about government’s past failures at engineering economic prosperity will convince them otherwise.”
The president’s stimulus is a “punch line,” McConnell said, and few have faith in his administration’s approach to the economy.
But one way to boost job creation would be to send the three trade deals to Congress, McConnell said, which he pledged members would “enact immediately.”
“The problem with our economy is not that government is doing too little but that it’s already doing far too much,” McConnell wrote. “That’s why Republicans will continue our efforts to empower individuals and job creators, not government, to boost the economy. A good place to start is for the president to send us the trade deals that have been sitting on his desk.”
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