California has an enormous and diverse economy, but trade plays an integral role in some of its strongest sectors. The nation's five metropolitan areas with the largest agricultural exports are all in California; four are represented by Democrats who are mum about or hostile to fast track. The situation is much the same in the districts where exports account for the greatest percentage of local income, such as Silicon Valley, and where some of the country's largest ports and freight operations are based.
For example, Democrat
Meanwhile, key state and local officials are conspicuously silent on the bill, which has drawn opposition from the ideologically odd couple of organized labor and
For their part, congressional Democrats — many of whom won their seats with the help of organized labor — complain that the bill doesn't demand enough from trade deals on such issues as human rights, currency manipulation and enforcement of environmental and labor regulations. But that's disingenuous. A fast-track measure wouldn't dictate the terms of future trade agreements; it would merely tell the administration what Congress wants to see in them, while reserving the right to deny fast-track treatment to any deal that falls short. Lawmakers would also retain the power to vote down trade agreements they don't like. With so much at stake for California, lawmakers here should join the Obama administration in supporting a bipartisan fast-track bill, then make sure the White House meets the goals they set.