Thursday, June 4, 2015

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Grijalva, Kirkpatrick Oppose, McSally Supports

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2015 at 5:30 PM

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a massive trade deal that the United States is negotiating with 11 other countries. Critics say that it doesn't contain enough protections for workers; it will lead to jobs leaving the United States; and it could undermine regulations here in the U.S. Supporters say it will be an economic boost by allowing more trade between the nations that sign on.

President Barack Obama is seeking fast-track authority that would allow him to negotiate a deal that would face an up-or-down vote in Congress.

The politics are curious: Obama is counting on Republicans to support the deal because Democrats are mostly against it. 

Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) is a big opponent. In March, he signed onto a statement from the Progressive Caucus that noted: "The United States is leading a global race to the bottom that isn’t good for families anywhere. Good trade deals should not expose our consumer protections to legal attacks by foreign corporations."

Grijalva will be hosting a forum with TPP opponents at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 6, at the IBEW Local 570 Hall, 750 S. Tucson Blvd., if you want to learn more.

Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1), who tends to be a good deal more moderate than Grijalva, opposes giving the Obama administration fast-track authority to negotiate the deal. In an email this week, Kirkpatrick said: "Free trade can be a good thing. But free trade done in secret can lead to serious problems—including offshoring of American jobs, an uneven playing field for American business, and the erosion of labor, environmental, and safety standards. : American workers depend on us to make sure they are protected in free trade agreements. We cannot allow that power to be taken away through fast track authority."

Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-CD2) is leaning toward supporting the TPP, according to spokesman Patrick Ptak:

Rep. McSally recognizes that the global economy is changing, and for Arizona businesses and workers to continue to be competitive, they must keep pace. Over 95% of the world’s consumers now live beyond our borders. Expanding access to these consumers for local businesses means more jobs for Southern Arizonans. A great example is PACE Technologies in Tucson, which Rep. McSally recently visited, who were able to grow from 4 to 15 employees during the economic downturn by focusing on boosting their exports.

Last year, Arizona businesses shipped over $11 billion in goods to Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries. Lowering barriers to markets in these countries can build upon this trade, providing more opportunity for workers here. While Rep. McSally will consider any potential TPP deal once it is reached, she supports measures to expand trade such as passing Trade Promotion Authority legislation.

You can Google all sorts of background info, but here's a primer from The New York Times:

Like a huge container ship pushing its way into port, the trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership is about to drop anchor in Washington. The document is weighty and secret, stretching to perhaps 30 chapters, and is still being negotiated after nearly 10 years of talks. It would set new terms for trade and business investment among the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations — a far-flung group with an annual gross domestic product of nearly $28 trillion that represents roughly 40 percent of global G.D.P. and one-third of world trade.

Supporters say it would be a boon for all the nations involved, that it would “unlock opportunities” and “address vital 21st-century issues within the global economy,” and that it is written in a way to encourage more countries, possibly even China, to sign on. Passage in Congress is one of President Obama’s final goals in office, but he faces stiff opposition from nearly all of his fellow Democrats.
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Opponents in the United States see the pact as mostly a giveaway to business, encouraging further export of manufacturing jobs to low-wage nations while limiting competition and encouraging higher prices for pharmaceuticals and other high-value products by spreading American standards for patent protections to other countries. A provision allowing multinational corporations to challenge regulations and court rulings before special tribunals is drawing intense opposition.

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