There is no more important piece of legislation this year than Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which “fast tracks” President Obama the freedom to negotiate the largest free trade zone in the history of the world. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) comprises 12 nations and encompasses one third of the world GDP. Both Congressional Democrats and House Republicans need to stop floundering around and grant the President the ability to bring us home the bacon.
Since 2009, the TPP has been in negotiation between incredibly diverse nations and economies. From the commercial hubs of Singapore and Japan to the industrializing nation of Vietnam, to the three nations comprising NAFTA, TPP encapsulates a wide variety in export abilities, potential capital, and industries. There is, however, one notable Pacific country noticeably absent from these negotiations: China. But more on that later.
While unions are bullying democrats in Congress into thinking TPP and free trade are destroying the American economy, the reverse could not be more true. The U.S. exported $622.5 billion of manufactured products to TPP countries in 2013, facing high tariffs such as 27% for auto parts entering Vietnam. 20% of American farmers’ incomes are derived from agricultural exports ($58 billion to TPP countries), again facing tariffs such as a 40% poultry tariff to enter Malaysia. When tariffs are eliminated, goods become cheaper for consumers in all nations, businesses expand their markets, and more jobs can are created as innovation and competition flourish.
Companies headquartered in TPP countries have already invested $660 billion in the U.S. and employed 1.6 million Americans. Nike alone plans to create an additional 10,000 jobs in the U.S. if TPP is implemented. The U.S. government estimates TPP would add $223 billion per year to the global economy by 2025.
Will some jobs be consolidated, or even outright eliminated when these markets become free and more efficient? Yes. However, the net gains of free trade–new jobs, higher wages, and more businesses–far outweighs these temporary setbacks.
Unions are on their last breath trying to protect inefficient and outdated basic manufacturing plants, whose goods can be made in other countries for far cheaper. The U.S. does have a responsibility to help provide training for any workers who happen to be laid off due to TPP as our economy continues to modernize in the 21st century. Nonetheless, looking backwards 50 years and cheering for stagnation in our economy can only save a few dying jobs today–at the expense of innovation, creativity, and economic expansion tomorrow.
Protectionism might be the popular political decision for a member of Congress seeking just another re-election, but that elected official would be neglecting his or her duty to promote the general welfare of this nation, by ensuring bright opportunities tomorrow for generations to come through TPP.
Contrary to the ranting of isolationists on the left and Obama skeptics on the right, TPP does not cut out Congress from any trade deals. Instead, it creates a Congressional partnership with the Executive, allowing Congress to outlay its goals while also expediting the negotiation and implementation processes for TPP. The reason fast track is necessary is to signal to the other 11 nations that the U.S. is serious about committing to a fair deal regarding free trade. This deal is so important that even I, a conservative, know President Obama must have expedited and broader authority if we are to expand the economic potential of this country.
Liberals have stirred up a misguided controversy, arguing that TPP is terrible for labor standards. Again, they are wrong. The U.S. is negotiating for strong labor provisions like collective bargaining, discouraging forced labor, and establishing real mechanisms to monitor labor concerns. Without TPP, developing nations practicing abysmal labor standards will simply continue with their status quo. It is irresponsible to not give President Obama the political power to ensure labor standards are raised in these countries.
If those reasons still have not convinced you than this last point should: China. If we don’t credibly commit to TPP, our absence will undoubtedly be filled by China. Imagine China opening it’s borders to a third of the world economy and reaping the benefits of an economic boom, while the U.S. is left in the dust–completely shut out from the jobs created, the FDI invested, and the technology shared. If the U.S. doesn’t seize this moment, China surely will.
Congress needs to pass fast track so that President Obama can achieve Congress’ own goals in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be added to the world economy. FDI will be pumped into the Pacific from U.S. companies as well as invested from foreign companies into the U.S. Jobs will be created, consumer prices will drop, and labor standards and standard of living will all increase. It’s just common sense. That’s why President Obama is currently teaming up with Republicans to get this done.
To the Democrats who have been bullied by the false propaganda of unions, and to the Republicans who are so paranoid about the President that they are currently turning their back on the country just to snub him, stop being cowards. Your constituents deserve better than special interest handouts to a few dying union factories, or appeasing a tiny sliver of conservative voters who still believe President Obama was born in Kenya. The American people are desperately looking for our economy to move past stagnation, and they deserve better.
For the sake of our economy and future generations of Americans, cut the games and pass Trade Promotion Authority now!