- The Washington Times - Monday, May 11, 2015

On the eve of a key Senate test vote on trade, the White House renewed its feud with Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday, criticizing the Massachusetts Democrat for engaging in “false criticism” of the proposed free-trade deal.

“There is no need for this false criticism that the members of Congress aren’t aware of what’s being negotiated,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “If Senator Warren is wondering what she’s voting on, then she can walk over to the room that has been established on Capitol Hill by the U.S. Trade Representative and she can read the latest version of the negotiated document.”

The Senate will hold a procedural vote Tuesday on granting Mr. Obama trade-promotion authority to speed negotiations of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive free-trade agreement among the U.S. and 11 other Pacific rim nations. Mrs. Warren and many other Democratic lawmakers oppose the deal, saying it will benefit the wealthy and result in job losses in the U.S.

Mrs. Warren said the framework of the deal is structured in such a way that could allow a future president to undercut the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill passed in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.

“Whatever the Obama administration has committed to won’t bind the next president,” she told the Washington Post in an interview published Monday. “If that president wants to negotiate a trade deal that undercuts Dodd Frank, it will be very hard to stop it.”

She also called for the text of the deal to be released and says that she does believe in trade, but only if done on terms “that strengthen the American economy and American worker. I should say the American family, because that’s what this is really about.”

In an interview with Yahoo News, Mr. Obama said Mrs. Warren was “absolutely wrong.” She has emerged as a leading critic of granting Mr. Obama fast track authority, which would give Congress only the option of an up-or-down vote on the TPP without the opportunity for amendments.

“Think about the logic of that, right?” Mr. Obama said. “The notion that I had this massive fight with Wall Street to make sure that we don’t repeat what happened in 2007, 2008. And then I sign a provision that would unravel it?

“I’d have to be pretty stupid,” Mr. Obama said. “This is pure speculation. She and I both taught law school, and you know, one of the things you do as a law professor is you spin out hypotheticals. And this is all hypothetical, speculative.”

The administration has said the provision in question, called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), is written in a way so that governments’ ability to regulate is not undermined.

Mrs. Warren argued that those mechanisms never had the authority to override regulations, but rather the authority to penalize a government and its taxpayers.

“That’s the point at which governments have backed up and said, ‘we can’t afford this, we’ll just change the law,’” she said.

Liberal groups have called on Mrs. Warren to enter the 2016 presidential race as an alternative to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic front-runner. But she has said repeatedly she is not running.

“The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else,” Mr. Obama said. “And you know, she’s got a voice that she wants to get out there. I understand that. And on most issues, she and I deeply agree. On this one, though, her arguments don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny.”


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