The Trans-Pacific Partnership: An Update

Graphic courtesy of  New York Times

Graphic courtesy of New York Times

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is officially a thing, meaning that it’s solidified and ready to face both houses of Congress for approval. The TPP is primed to face a battle on Capitol Hill, and faced immediate “bipartisan opposition” once word got out that TPP was finally being finalized. Additionally, the Congressional debate will unfold during the 2016 Presidential election - where it’s already a huge topic of discussion.

Hillary Clinton has finally made her sentiments known: She came out adamantly against the TPP on Wednesday in an interview with PBS NewsHour, primarily concerned about the possibility of currency manipulation, benefits for Big Pharma, and a loss of American jobs.

As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it [...] I have been trying to learn as much as I can about the agreement. But I’m worried. [...] I think there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
— Hillary Clinton on PBS NewsHour

Bernie Sanders came out against the deal months ago, publishing a three-page document explaining his rationale in 10 reasons pertaining to job losses for Americans, U.S. sovereignty in the face of international tribunals, Wall Street power, Big Pharma perks, and low protection for the environment.

During my 23 years in Congress, I helped lead the fight against NAFTA and PNTR with China. During the coming session of Congress, I will be working with organized labor, environmentalists, religious organizations, Democrats, and Republicans against the secretive TPP trade deal.
— Bernie Sanders

In regards to the other 2016-ers: Martin O’Malley came out against the deal before Clinton made her feelings known; Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are all reportedly in support of the TPP.

In a press call hosted by the White House yesterday afternoon, experts* got a chance to respond to varying questions and concerns that politicians and the public alike have posed. Primarily sticking to script and using the phrase “level playing field” about five times in the 30 minute call, these were their main points:

  • The TPP would create a “level playing field” in the international economy (a talking point very much repeated throughout).
  • Taxes and tariffs on exports will be cut, spurring job growth in the U.S. and global economic opportunity - akin to a “massive tax cut for U.S. citizens” and is the “largest tax cuts on exports in a generation.”
  • Sentiments on “writing rules” on global trade: “If we don’t, then China will.”
  • The experts said they were “confident” that the TPP would garner bipartisan support in Congress.
  • According to these experts, several studies indicate that job numbers would be affected due to the TPP - but they didn’t give any specific estimates as to how many jobs would be created.
  • BUT the experts did articulate that the TPP will “open up more markets for exports” and will increase exports about 18% for companies. I attempted to fact check this particular statistic, and only came up with White House sources for this number.

Congress will most likely have months to deliberate on this. Once President Obama signs the agreement (no word on exactly when he’ll do this), Congress will have 90 days to first toss this around in debate - and additional time will most likely be needed, according to the New York Times.

The TPP is one of those news stories that will be developing and brewing in the nightly news C-Block and below-the-fold on newspapers for months, in favor of more urgent stories, and will randomly pop up on the front page once it becomes “big news.” But something as important to American jobs/geopolitics as this deserves far more attention than it will get. I encourage you to do your own research and seek this information out yourself. Here and here are good places to start.

* Experts on the call: Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council; Michael Froman, Ambassador, U.S. Trade Representative; Kevin Selvy, CEO of Crazy Mountain Brewing Company

 

 

Julia ArcigaComment