Powerful bipartisan voices aired concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this week, leaving passage of the lousy trade deal that would ship thousands of jobs overseas and permit unsafe food and products to flood U.S. stores in limbo.
The loudest came Sunday when House Speaker Paul Ryan (D-Wis.) noted he “is not the dictator of the House” and cannot force members to pass the 12-nation Pacific Rim trade agreement. He conceded that as it stands, the pact does not have the votes required for passage.
While Ryan has been supportive of the TPP and even authored the House legislation that allows the trade deal to be fast tracked through the chamber last year, he also raised his own concerns with the deal. The speaker took issue with dairy and intellectual property provisions, among others, in an interview.
That was followed up today by Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee, who announced he would not be supporting the TPP. He took aim at its failure to address currency manipulation as well as its weak worker rights and country-of-origin rules as his reasons for opposing it.
“Some will say that TPP is an improvement over the status quo,” Levin said. “Others will say that we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Regardless of whether these often rhetorical measuring sticks were relevant in the past when trade agreements simply equaled tariff reductions, they vitally miss the mark today. Trade touches all aspects of our lives, and we are setting an economic framework for generations. We cannot afford to lock-in weak standards, uncompetitive practices, and a system that does not broadly spread the benefits of trade, affecting the paychecks of American families.”
Taken together, big business has a problem on its hands. Lawmakers across the political spectrum are seeing what the Teamsters and many pro-worker allies have known all along – TPP won’t help anybody but the corporate class.
Congress is in no rush to move forward with the trade deal because elected officials see their constituents rising up and saying no to even more corporate handouts at the expense of everyday Americans. The TPP is just the latest example of crony capitalism run amok.