When a deal as secretive and important as the Trans-Pacific Partnership comes around, everyone wants to chime in on its merits and shortcomings. At this stage, opinions based on speculation and principle are invalid. We don’t know what we don’t know.
Normally, clear lines are drawn to make it easier to pick a side based upon party affiliation, but with the Democratic President and the Republican Congress as the primary supporters, the waters are much murkier than normal. Throw in that the harshest opposition is coming from the far right and far left and suddenly we’re in a political quagmire.
Let’s break down what we know about the deal for the sake of speculation. It’s going to happen anyway. Why not throw in another invalid opinion just to keep with the trends.
- Bernie Sanders Hates It Because of Unions: There is an ever-so-slight chance that provisions within the deal will actually strengthen unions, but the degree of strengthening will shift support and opposition proportionately. If the advantages to unions outweigh the risks of free trade, then the left may jump on board but the right may abandon. If the advantages are minimal, the right may accept it while the left denounces it.
- Ted Cruz Hates it Because of Lies and Weakness: Senator Cruz supported fast track and the TPP because it was supposed to enhance our positioning against China. Then, he reversed his support because it opens doors to immigration (by a couple of small loopholes, but doors nonetheless) but more importantly because it was put together through backroom deals and with limited exposure to the public. This almost always adds the smell of rats to any exchange and Senator Cruz can’t stand the smell of a rat.
- The Middle Loves it Because it’s Progress: Free trade is a dirty word on the edges but it’s a rallying cry for advancement in the moderate left and right circles. This is where special interest groups will chime in and sway their politicians in their direction, particularly the pharmaceutical industry. If it reduces profit potentials too much by adopting more of an Australian perspective for drug companies than an American view, we could see support erode very quickly in the middle. Otherwise, they’re the target audience for President Obama’s upcoming batch of sales pitches on the deal.
- President Obama Loves it Because it Looks Good on His Legacy: The President has affected social change and has a few domestic economic wins. His foreign relations record is abysmal and his foreign finance record is almost as bad. This will kill two birds with one stone by giving him a legacy item for future Wikipedia edits.
- Most Americans Hate it Because Some Americans Hate It: The general population is opposed to the deal because of two reasons. First, there are those who are opposed to the scandalous secrecy that has shrouded the deal and made it seem like a play by the New World Order. These opponents have been outspoken and have therefore brought other Americans to dislike it. The campaigns against TPP have been as ferocious as campaigns against SOPA/PIPA, another deal that most Americans didn’t understand but hated because of the hatred from the outspoken.
The safe stance on this one is to oppose and that’s what the President fears the most. The onus is on his administration to convince Congress that it needs to get through. To do this, he’ll have to work on both the front and back ends. On the front end, he’ll need to sell it to the American people, something that would have been much easier a couple of years ago but that may be more difficult today. On the back end, he’ll have to make deals with Democrats in Congress in the form of campaign re-election support promises. Again, this was a more powerful tool in the past since nobody knows what his legacy will look like by 2018.
Our view, which is as uneducated as all others until the details are fully released, is that our need to keep jobs stateside supersedes our need to keep China in check. If their economy was thriving, we might feel differently, but in the short term the deal empowers the wrong people while not doing much to prop up American trade interests. Of course, we reserve the right of reversal once details are released.