Levin Seeks Transparency on Asian Trade Pact

This column originally appeared on Press.org. Mike serves on the National Press Club Newsmaker Committee.

As the Senate works its way through trade legislation, the bigger struggle will happen in the House, one of the key players in the debate said at a Club Newsmaker on May 14.

“The real story is going to be in the House,” said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich. and ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee. “We are working to produce a progressive trade policy – the administration is talking about [trade promotion authority] being the most progressive policy, but it is flawed.”

Levin called for “leveling the playing field” with global trading partners.

Up to 5 million jobs in the United States have been lost due to currency manipulation by other countries, Levin said.

“When it comes to currency, we need to write the rules and not let China write the rules,” Levin said. “We have not yet discussed stated-owned enterprises (in China). There is a concern about what exceptions will be there.”

In the House, Levin and his Democratic colleagues are going to take a tough approach to alleged currency manipulation.

“This administration has essentially said ‘no’ to any provision in TPP or any legislative [remedy]” Congress has engineered. “They say we are wedded to the status quo. It is actually the administration that is.”

Levin spoke at the Club just hours after the Senate voted to deny the Obama administration so called fast-track authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact involving the U.S. and 11 other countries. The Senate later reversed itself and opened its trade debate.

The 33-year congressional veteran hinted that the debate in the House would be intense.

“This administration has put its feet in cement in terms of TPP provision” on currency, he said. “Treasury has had their feet in cement. Sometimes, you have to admit that having the approach previous administrations have had hasn’t worked.”

NOTE: Mike served on the ITAC 8 as a political appointment within the U.S. Department of Commerce.