Driving the Day: Conservative Gut Check

This afternoon, the House will vote on legislation to extend expiring provisions of the Trade Adjustment Assistance  (TAA) program.  Not only does the program cost money – $1.1 billion in 2010 – but a study by the Government Accountability Office found that program participants are more likely to earn less money in subsequent jobs.  For conservatives, allowing an ineffective and costly program to expire should be an easy choice.

Unfortunately, as we mentioned yesterday, a vote on extending the program will come up under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote and usually reserved for non-controversial measures.  As Russ Vought points out, this is anything but:

TAA benefits are typically the political sweetener that accompany pending free trade agreements, such as the Columbian Free Trade Agreement, in order to attract votes from free trade skeptics. Unfortunately, House Republicans are now attaching it to a worthwhile but run-of-the-mill extension of the Andean Trade Preference Act, even though a Democrat Congress was able to pass a short term extension of this very trade preference, as recently as December 14, 2009, without attaching TAA benefits as a sweetener. What gives?

It’s time for a conservative gut check.  With trillion dollar annual deficits on the horizon, we need to begin making serious decisions.  Allowing TAA to expire would demonstrate that seriousness.

3pm Update: House leadership pulled TAA from the calendar.

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