(Click on the blue-colored links to read the full editorial)
Washington Post Editorial: We’ve faulted President Obama for his less-than-full-throated support of free-trade agreements that enjoy the nominal backing of his administration. There was no such cause for complaint about his State of the Union address Tuesday night, however, in which he called on “both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe.” In practical terms, that means Mr. Obama believes that his negotiators are close to cementing market-opening pacts with 11 Pacific Rim nations — most importantly, Japan — and with the European Union and that passing a bill that authorizes an up-or-down congressional vote on the final agreements will strengthen his hand at the bargaining table.…Both economically and geopolitically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would perpetuate the United States’ stabilizing role in Asia; it is one of the Obama administration’s brightest ideas. All that’s left now is for both the president and Republican leaders in Congress to keep their promises and make it happen.
San Francisco Chronicle Editorial: From strawberries to software, California’s exports total more than the size of the state’s overall budget. The Bay Area alone counts $25 billion-plus in overseas shipments. Foreign firms doing business here employ 590,100 Californians. These numbers underscore a financial reality that too many take for granted. Global trade is an enormous chunk of California’s present and future. It needs to be nurtured, improved and given rules and treaty agreements to protect this thriving financial lifeline. Expanding on this economic engine will be a challenge. The largest trade deal in years is now in Washington’s lap. Called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it covers 29 aspects of trade policy among a dozen countries in Asia and South America. It’s built around shared standards, common rules and lower barriers.…A showdown vote will be needed to approve the package. Congress will be asked to approve a Trade Promotion Authority bill, which means it can only approve the agreement on an up-or-down basis with no amendments. That may sound like an affront to legislature powers and notions of transparency, but it’s a sensible way to contain endless favor seeking by lawmakers. California has an enormous stake in foreign trade. Its leaders in Washington should work through the rhetoric and criticism of this economic package and support a treaty that’s vital to the state’s future.
Seattle Times Editorial: President Obama wants more authority to negotiate global trade deals — a move that could significantly benefit Washington state. Congress should give it to him. In 2013, Washington companies exported $81.6 billion worth of products and services, ranging from apples and pears to solar panels and airplanes. Tuesday, in his State of the Union address, President Obama again called for Congress to grant him trade-promotion authority (TPA). With that authority, his administration would be better able to update and establish new trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership….Congress must not delay in approving TPA. Granting the president trade-promotion authority would have substantial and lasting effects on the state’s and nation’s economies.
Wisconsin State Journal Editorial: You don’t often hear U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan say he “agrees with every word” of something the president says. So let’s highlight and encourage this moment. It’s a big opportunity for Wisconsin’s economy and jobs. Ryan, R-Janesville, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said this week he backs President Barack Obama’s views on trade, as outlined in the president’s State of the Union address. “I agree with every word he said in the speech with respect to trade and Asia and getting in there and helping write the rules instead of China writing the rules,” Ryan told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The president is in the middle of negotiating a trade agreement with Asian nations, representing 40 percent of global GDP. This means more jobs for America. This means more exports for us. This is something we have to get on top of, and I agree with him on that.” That’s good to hear, because Congress needs to approve trade promotion authority for the president, giving the administration a stronger hand when negotiating with global partners.
Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial: Other bipartisan areas of agreement that could breed positive results include proposed trade agreements in Asia and Europe. Such deals benefit the U.S. economy in the long run and create jobs because they open up opportunities for U.S. (and Ohio) companies to export.
San Francisco Chronicle Editorial: Another area of common ground with Republicans — albeit with pockets of Democratic resistance — was his request for trade promotion authority. Obama rightly noted the potential global customer base in the 21st century economy, and the importance of having the United States involved in writing the rules.
Houston Chronicle Editorial: Maybe, just maybe, the president and Congress can find areas of agreement involving a business tax overhaul, trade liberalization and increased cybersecurity protections, but for the most part Obama will be going it alone. He concluded his speech with an almost plaintive plea for a rejection of “the tired, old patterns.” “Because I want this chamber, this city, to reflect the truth – that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort, and help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world,” he said. It’s a worthy vision, and certainly one we share, but we suspect it will take more than the president’s eloquence to accomplish.
Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial: If the last two years of Obama’s presidency are to be more than a prelude to the next administration – and let’s hold out fervent, if not desperate, hope that they will be – the president and Congress will have to do more than reiterate their favorite partisan attachments. Some aspects of Obama’s stated priorities in his “fourth quarter” could appeal to both teams. More tax credits and funding for child care, higher education, and two-earner families should have broad resonance, especially as income inequality and stagnation have become a more bipartisan concern. Obama’s stated support for more free-trade agreements and an authorization of use of force against Islamic State extremists also hold appeal for the party opposite.
San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial: The president signaled that he realizes that Washington’s changed dynamics present him with a huge opportunity. After Congress shifted to GOP control in the 1994 elections, Democratic President Bill Clinton worked with Republicans on an overhaul of the welfare system that helped move millions of people off the dole and to employment — one of the most successful public-policy reforms in U.S. history. When it comes to trade and tax reform, Obama sees the potential for his own bipartisan successes. U.S. negotiators hope to finalize negotiations this year on two massive free-trade pacts: one that focuses on our Asian trade partners and one on those in Europe.
Toledo Blade Editorial: There are major issues on which the President and Congress should be able to work together productively. Expanding trade, improving the nation’s infrastructure, reforming corporate taxation, and promoting research are obvious possibilities. Others exist, if both branches of government will look for what unites them rather than what divides them.
Sacramento Bee Editorial: In his speech, he set forth a vision that includes hundreds of billions in new taxes imposed on the richest Americans, lower taxes on the middle class, free community college for all, paid sick leave for workers who don’t now have it, gender equality in wages, greater Internet access, freer international trade, additional medical research, and more….The administration’s tweets and Vines were in the service of recapturing Congress for Democrats in two years, and holding the White House. That’s the nature of politics. But we hope that amid all the ephemera, there is room for the hard work of compromise.
San Jose Mercury News Editorial: Obama had more clarity and fire in this speech than some past outings. Maybe it took having to contend with a Republican-controlled Congress. (Just the House wasn’t enough?) While the agenda he set out was his own, he repeatedly called on Republicans to collaborate on issues such as immigration, cybersecurity and trade. Prospects are good for trade, since Obama leans right on that, and perhaps on tech issues. Progress on immigration reform might actually benefit Republicans in the next election, But post-tea party Republicans have been mostly holding out for total victory rather than parsing issues for ideas both sides can live with. Perhaps controlling both houses will rein in the extremes.
Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial: And while it’s unlikely he will get much traction to reach bipartisan deals on many key issues now that Republicans control both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, compromise is possible in some areas. Obama and congressional Republican leaders could reach accord on giving the president “fast-track” trade authority, and they have been talking about closing the loopholes in the tax code, the latter of which would be heavy lift but one that clearly needs to be accomplished.