Is 'Fast Track' Constitutional? Ask The Founders - the answer is no!
President Obama wants 'fast track' power to unilaterally negotiate commerce with foreign countries and ram the TransPacific Partnership through Congress. In Federalist Paper # 75, Alexander Hamilton explains how this is unconstitutional - and why.
Writing under the pen name Publius, Hamilton lays out why Congress must be involved in the process of setting our relations with foreign countries:
The history of human conduct does not warrant that exalted opinion of human virtue which would make it wise in a nation to commit interests of so delicate and momentous a kind, as those which concern its intercourse with the rest of the world, to the sole disposal of a magistrate created and circumstanced as would be a President of the United States.
The topic of this Federalist Paper is "The treaty-making power of the executive." But the argument why the President cannot be entrusted with sole authority in this matter is even more relevant when it comes to trade agreements over which the Constitution gives Congress exclusive responsibility.
Here, Hamilton explains why a President - any President - must not be empowered to strike deals on his own:
[A] man raised from the station of a private citizen to the rank of chief magistrate, possessed of a moderate or slender fortune, and looking forward to a period not very remote when he may probably be obliged to return to the station from which he was taken, might sometimes be under temptations to sacrifice his duty to his interest, which it would require superlative virtue to withstand. An avaricious man might be tempted to betray the interests of the state to the acquisition of wealth. An ambitious man might make his own aggrandizement, by the aid of a foreign power, the price of his treachery to his constituents.
In plain English: the man in the Oval Office, knowing he won't be president forever, could well be tempted to strike a deal that would make him rich even if it sold out America and its citizens.
Not hard to imagine that happening in Washington DC, awash in money from every corner of the globe.
For example, you could imagine a president signing a North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico. After leaving office, the former president sets up a foundation and receives millions from a Mexican who became a billionaire thanks to NAFTA.
You don't have to imagine it.
NAFTA allowed Slim to protect his telecommunications businesses from competition and become the world's richest man.
He's now returning the favor to the man who made NAFTA a reality. (Slim also makes money off Obamaphones, but that's another story.)
Nothing surprising here. It's human nature and the Founders understood it more than 200 years ago.
That's why the Constitution doesn't give the president the power to make treaties or trade-deals, and why Obama can't be trusted with fast track power to write the TransPacific Partnership without Congresional oversight.