After nearly six years of discussions, negotiators announced finalized terms for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Monday. Although it will take months before it can wind its way through Congress, the question is: Will it pass and become a feather in the cap for President Obama’s legacy?
Note that I didn’t ask whether or not it should pass. There are plenty of folks on both sides of the aisle who say it should not.
In a close vote earlier this year, Congress did approve trade promotion authority (TPA), which gives the president the “fast-track” authority necessary to finalize the pact. Obama needed plenty of Republicans to get the legislation approved, since many Democrats (including Kathy Castor) derided the proposal, calling it “NAFTA on steroids,” and claiming it will send more jobs overseas and weaken environmental and labor law standards.
Supporters, like economic professors David Autor, David Dorn and Gordon Hanson, wrote in a guest editorial in The Washington Post, earlier this year that the TPP would actually be good for U.S. workers because:
- It would promote trade in knowledge-intensive services where U.S. companies exert a strong comparative advantage;
- Killing it wouldn’t bring any more factory jobs to America, and;
- It would also raise regulatory rules and standards for several of China’s key trading partners, which in turn would pressure China to meet some of those standards and stop its attempts to “game global trade ” to impede foreign multinational companies.
Historically, Congress doesn’t reject trade agreements. Then again, you’ve got a majority Republican Congress that is loath to give Obama any victories.
One of the leading GOP critics of the deal, Alabama U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, told Sirius XM’s Breitbart show on Sunday, “I think the American people are getting more and more uneasy about the effect of trade and the promises that our trading partners are going to comply with their part of the bargain and that we’re all going to benefit have not been real.”
The GOP presidential candidates are all over the map on the deal. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio seem to be in support of it, while Donald Trump is absolutely against it, as he told me directly when I asked him about it back in May in Sarasota.
“I think it stinks!,” he said. “I think it’s terrible. Because they don’t cover currency manipulation. If you look at China, if you look at Japan, they beat us on currency manipulation. And we don’t even talk about it.”
One thing is for sure: There’s not been nearly enough mainstream media coverage on this enormous deal. But with the final vote in Congress not scheduled to take place for months, it (hopefully) should rise to a higher level of discussion, and people can learn more about it, and decide themselves if it’s as great as the Obama administration proclaims it is.
In other news…
That RPOF Sunshine Summit taking place next month is getting better every day, if having all the Republican presidential candidates in Florida is your idea of a good time. Yesterday party officials announced that Chris Christie and Rand Paul have joined the mix of candidates, which already include Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.
David Jolly says he thinks he knows what can restore order and a sense of working together in Washington — having more competitive congressional districts. Unfortunately for Jolly (but not for Democrats locally or nationally), one of the few such swing-districts in the nation, his own CD 13, is in the process soon to be redrawn to include lots more Democrats, perhaps making it prohibitive for any Republican to win.
And Jolly has filed legislation that would actually mandate that Congress pull 40 hours of work a week.