TPP Signing Brings Out Opposition

Dave Johnson

Representatives of the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries will officially sign the free trade agreement in Auckland, New Zealand on Thursday (which on this side of the date line means the signing occurs Wednesday). But the prospects for U.S. passage of the agreement continue to decline.

David Dayen, writing at The American Prospect, in “For Trade Deal, Bad News Keeps Mounting,” explains some of the problems:

[A]ll the highest-profile candidates for president—Ted Cruz and Donald Trump on the right and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the left— have publicly opposed TPP.

[. . .] The announcement by TransCanada that it would sue the U.S. over the administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, using the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), casts a pall over the debate. At issue is the threat that corporations will use an extra-judicial process to extract billions in payments for the decisions of the U.S. government. The congressional repeal in December of the country-of-origin labeling rule known as COOL, following trade sanctions imposed by the World Trade Organization, underscores this danger.

… But the biggest blow to the TPP may be Ford Motor Co.’s abandonment of the Japanese market after 42 years, just when the Pacific Rim trade pact was supposed to open Japan up to foreign competition. “It has become clear that there is no path to sustained profitability, nor will there be an acceptable return over time,” said Ford spokeswoman Karen Hampton in a statement, suggesting that no TPP provisions would help.

According to Politico’s Morning Trade, President Obama met this week with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, and TPP came up in the discussion:

McConnell didn’t have overly good news for the administration. “I have some problems with the agreement,” he told reporters following the Republican caucus lunch. “With both the Democratic candidates for president opposed to the deal and a number of presidential candidates in our party opposed to the deal, it is my advice that we not pursue that, certainly before the election. And some would argue that it’s not fair to the voters for them not to consider what you might do after the election.”

Study Says TPP Will Bring Job Losses

A Tufts University Global Development and Environment Institute study, “Trading Down: Unemployment, Inequality and Other Risks of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement” by Jeronim Capaldo and Alex Izurieta, with Jomo Kwame Sundaram, concluded that TPP would cause job loss and increase inequality in every TPP country, especially the United States.

The online summary explains,

In this TPP study, the authors find:

● TPP would generate net losses of GDP in the United States and Japan. For the United States, they project that GDP would be 0.54 percent lower than it would be without TPP, 10 years after the treaty enters into force. Japan’s GDP is projected to decrease 0.12 percent.

● Economic gains would be negligible for other participating countries…

● TPP would lead to employment losses in all countries, with a total of 771,000 lost jobs. The United States would be the hardest hit, with a loss of 448,000 jobs. …

● TPP would lead to higher inequality, as measured by changes in the labor share of national income. … this would exacerbate a multi-decade downward trend.

● TPP would lead to losses in GDP and employment in non-TPP countries. In large part, the loss in GDP (3.77 percent) and employment (879,000) among non-TPP developed countries would be driven by losses in Europe, while developing country losses in GDP (5.24%) and employment (4.45 million) reflect projected losses in China and India.

Opposition

Wednesday morning, online groups including MoveOn.org delivered to Congress more than a million petition signatures in opposition to the TPP. At a news conference announcing the petition delivery, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hi.) said, “The American people have been left out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership from the beginning and the results show. From an ISDS process that allows foreign corporations to overrule our domestic rule of law, to unenforceable labor and environmental protections, to no protections against currency manipulation, this deal helps the corporate class while selling out working Americans and their families.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren called on Congress to reject the TPP. The Hill quoted Warren as saying, “I hope Congress will use its constitutional authority to stop this deal before it makes things even worse and even more dangerous for America’s hardest-working families.” She went on to say that the agreement “would tilt the playing field even more in favor of a big multinational corporations and against working families.”

Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch hosted a “TPP on Ice Extravaganza” event at the National Press Club “featuring a cast of dozens including Olaf, snowmen and reindeer.” It has “original parody lyrics to the “Frozen” anthem.” “Fair Trade Princess Ilsa kicked off 48 hours of national and international anti-TPP demonstrations with her rendition of ‘TPP: Let It Go.'”

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) union sent out a press release, asking, “If TPP is Progressive, Why Must White House Rely on “Republican Friendly Organizations” to Sell It?”

Democratic backers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal like to claim that the TPP is “the most progressive trade agreement in history.”

If that’s the case, then why must the White House rely on “Republican-friendly organizations” and some of the biggest opponents of progressive policies to get the deal through Congress?

The CWA release cited a Politico story.

W.H. LOOKING FOR TPP ASSIST FROM BIZ: Given the complex dynamics between the administration and Congress on TPP, the White House will be relying on “Republican friendly organizations” to make the case for passage of the deal in Congress, Earnest said Tuesday.

… He named the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Farm Bureau Federation and National Association of Manufacturers among the groups that will be looked upon ‘to make a strong case to the Republicans.’

On the Republican side, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions gave a speech saying, “The White House’s own study…claimed that TPP will decrease the growth of manufacturing in the United States by 20 percent by 2030.” Sessions released a video, As TPP Signing Nears, Experts Warn U.S. Manufacturing Will Suffer:

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump told Breitbart News he is opposed to “Hillary’s Obamatrade.”

A Warning, Though

There may be significant public opposition to TPP, but the giant multinational corporation’s and Wall Street’s influence over Congress continues to dominate what Congress does. What this really means is that this could come up any day and surprise Congress, forcing a vote before opponents can rally.

The President, Chamber of Commerce and other “Republican-friendly organizations” could see an opening at any time and bring TPP up to force a vote. Be optimistic, but continue to sign petitions and otherwise support the organizations fighting this, and especially keep up the calls to your senators and representatives.

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