Bi-Partisan Opposition To Trans Pacific Partnership –TPP
Westchester County NY’s three members of the House of Representatives joined with 142 other members of their Democratic congressional caucus who voted against giving President Barack Obama fast-tract authority to negotiate the terms of a free trade agreement with countries in the South Pacific, called the Trans Pacific Partnership, last week.
Rep. Nita Lowey, Rep. Eliot Engel and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney all voted “no” on a provision that would kill TPP and more importantly have joined a number of Democrats and Republicans in questioning the 20-year history of free trade agreements and how they have led to the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs in the country.
“Trade, when done right, has the potential to grow our economy and create jobs,” said Lowey. “I will only support trade agreements that create jobs here, while protecting our economy and job standards, and strengthen our national security. Good trade agreements will create jobs for all sectors of our economy and raise the bar for labor and environmental standards.”
“An acceptable TPP agreement must advance peace and prosperity in Asia, while at the same time creating new exports and export-related jobs for Americans,” added Engel. “The TPP is a work in progress, but if an agreement is reached, we will have to take a hard look to make sure it measures up to those standards. We would do well to listen to those who are fearful that the current TPP, as written, will drive down wages and cause the U.S. to lose jobs.”
“We can’t repeat past mistakes by blindly rubber-stamping secret negotiations – folks from the Hudson Valley can’t afford another failed trade agreement that would ship more jobs overseas and hurt our environment,” said Maloney. “Increased trade can be good for everyone, but I won’t support any agreement until someone can show me how this makes life better for hardworking families and creates jobs here in the Hudson Valley.”
The major rebuke by Democrats to Obama came from the top, with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi stating she will vote “no” after realizing her Democratic caucus will not support TPP.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote to the president, stating: “Unfortunately, current trade policies have achieved the opposite: While the U.S. economy continues to grow, the share going to working families is shrinking, real wages and incomes have stagnated for the majority of American families, and inequality has grown. As David Rosnick of the Center for Economic and Policy Research has shown, the projected small, positive impact of the TPP on U.S. economic growth (0.13 percent of GDP by 2025) is swamped by a much larger likely negative distributional impact, leaving most workers worse off. The U.S. manufacturing sector, which is vital to maintaining an innovation advantage, creating a pathway to the middle class and safeguarding our national security, continues to shrink.
“Workforce programs like Trade Adjustment Assistance are wildly inadequate to helping families remain stable and secure when trade disrupts their workplaces,” Trumka continued. “Moreover, the failure to invest in 21st century infrastructure or adequately address unfair trade practices, including currency manipulation and labor abuse, has left America at a competitive disadvantage. We run chronic trade deficits of a half a trillion dollars a year, undermining the economic recovery and a healthy labor market.”
The issue of free trade and the negative impact on middle-class Americans and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs has been heard on both sides of the aisle.
“I’ve been hearing the same argument for 20 years,” said Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. “I heard it with NAFTA and CAFTA and permanent trade relations with China. But since 2001 we have lost 60,000 factories and millions of good-paying jobs. Trade is a significant reason why we see our jobs go to China and other low-wage countries. You are beginning to see Democrats and some Republicans who want to pass trade legislation that rebuilds our country and our manufacturing base rather than represent large corporations. Every union, every environmental group and some religious groups believe TPP is a disaster, and that we want corporate American start investing in this country.”
On the Republican side of the aisle, in addition to the 158 House Republicans who voted “no” on TPP, possible presidential candidate Donald Trump has been talking about the inequities in U.S. free trade deals for years.
“What happens is all of these countries get the best of everything and we get the worst of everything,” said Trump. “Our trade deficit was the biggest we’ve had in years. The reason is because the trade is so one-sided. It’s because you have lobbyists lobbying for this thing, and you have lobbyists representing areas of industry, you have lobbyists representing countries. You have plenty of Republicans against it and you have plenty of Democrats against it. It’s a horrible deal for the United States and it should not pass.
“China and Mexico are ripping us off and I would impose a tariff or tax – call it what you want – on goods coming into this country,” he continued. “I don’t want Ford to build a plant in Mexico, I want them to build it here and take care of our people. The problem is that politicians are controlled by lobbyist and donors. I don’t need either.”
Westchester resident Frank Spotorno has been highlighting the problem of the massive loss of manufacturing jobs on his website, www.bringourjobs.com, and in our Rising papers for some time.
“It is good to see how many Americans are finally waking up to see how we have been bamboozled with free trade agreements,” he said. “TPP was just more of the same, and I stand with our unions and with Democrats and Republicans alike. We have to bring our jobs home!”