This is more than just an article about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which is causing so much fuss between Congress and the White House. It is about credibility, or more accurately, the lack of it enjoyed by President Obama, his lame duck status and the race for the White House in 2016.
In his bid to burnish his legacy, the President is taking no prisoners, scorching enemies and allies alike. The lies Obama has spouted for the past six-years, and the damage he has caused the Democratic Party (resulting in the loss of control of Congress), are finally coming home to roost in the debate over the impending legislation over the debate, and has poisoned political relationships and aggravated alliances.
Yes, of course, there is banter about other issues – freedom of speech among them. But a major bone of contention, aside from personalities, is jobs. Supporters of the pact say it will create jobs – detractors point to the million jobs lost after the last major trade deal, NAFTA in 1994, and worry that it will be another nail in labor’s coffin as more jobs transfer out of the country.
Moreover, Republicans also are not enthusiastic about giving the President a nod to his legacy, and the Democrats a victory they can flaunt in the 2016 presidential campaign, even though the agreement was framed and supported ten years ago during George W. Bush’s tenure in the Oval Office.
If that’s not enough, then ponder on the opposition to TPP by none other than liberal Democratic darling, Sen. Elizabeth Warren. She is usually an Obama toady, who bafflingly connects the TPP somehow to a loosening of regulations on Wall Street and the banks. No, this is about Obama’s credibility for sure, and party payback for his contributions to their humiliating defeat last November.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that not much is known about the actual language in the agreement. Information about it is scant, yet is enough to ruffle the feathers of disparate persons such as labor leaders, and even Julian Assange, for gosh sakes. It sure is stealthy!
The most detail we have had so far comes from Wikileaks, which leaked chapters on intellectual property proposals that have caused consternation online. “If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs,” said Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Obama, however, disagrees,
“[Y]ou’ve got some critics saying that any deal would be rushed through; it’s a secret deal, people don’t know what’s in it. This is not true. Any agreement that we finalize with the other 11 countries will have to be posted online for at least 60 days before I even sign it. Then it would go to Congress – and you know they’re not going to do anything fast. So there will be months of review. Every T crossed, every I dotted. Everybody is going to be able to see exactly what’s in it.”
Again, it all goes back to credibility, and Obama’s moribund popularity, because Democrats are opposing the president. Obama’s choice of allies has miffed many Democrats, too. Big corporations, of course, are lined up in support. Big businesses like Nike – from whose headquarters Obama controversially chose to shill for the deal last week – support the agreement because it would reduce the tariffs on the shoes they produce overseas and then ship to the US. (Right now 98% of shoes in the US are imported.)
They also argue that free trade will benefit US companies and create more jobs at home. The deal would clarify trade rules that currently ensnare businesses large and small in red tape and arguably make trading in the Pacific Rim far easier.
If the lies of the past are not wreaking havoc with his agenda, then obfuscation certainly is. The fact is that even today the ACA (Obamacare) that the president championed and railroaded through a largely Democratic Congress is controversial. It is misunderstood at best, and a failure at worst. Obama’s lies and distortions and hubris in ramming the bill through to law haunts this TPP debate, hanging over it like a storm cloud. One thing is apparent-no one trusts this president anymore.
For an alternative and less partisan discussion on the issues raised by the TPP, please see here.