How Obama and Congressional Republicans Intend to Pass TPP Into Law —

After the November Elections

Eric Zuesse

Back on 10 December 2015, the head of the U.S. Senate, the pro-Obama-trade-deals Republican Mitch McConnell, said that Obama shouldn’t try to pass his TPP or any other of his three mega-trade-deals until after the November elections, because Senators and Representatives won’t vote for it until the voters have already voted for their re-election (so that they’ll then be free to vote against those voters’ interests). 

The previous congressional votes on these deals showed that congressional Republicans overwhelmingly favor them but many congressional Democrats oppose them. For example, in the crucial vote, in the Senate, only 37 of the 100 Senators voted against the enabling legislation (without which legislation they can’t pass), called “Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority,” which will enable the President to ram these treaties through Congress, and 30 of these Senators were Democrats, 5 (Collins, Cruz, Paul, Sessions, and Shelby) were Republicans, and 2 (Sanders and King) were independents. That’s both independents, 30 of the 44 Democrats, and only 5 of the 54 Republicans. So: these bills are overwhelmingly Republican trade bills, which were created by a ‘Democratic’ President. 

These deals will be enormously favorable to large international corporations, at the expense of workers’ rights, consumer rights, and environmental protection; so, it’s natural that they have overwhelming Republican support in Congress.

However, Republican voters are overwhelmingly against these bills. For example, on 18 February 2014, Huffington Post headlined “Conservatives Oppose Fast Track, TPP: Poll,” and reported that “Voter opposition explains why Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and even Joe Biden are wary about pushing the issue before the mid-term elections,” and all three of those people are Democrats. The Democratic leaders in Congress might be with the President on these bills, but most other congressional Democrats are opposed to these bills. However, “Republicans [Republican voters] overwhelmingly oppose giving fast-track authority to the president (8% in favor, 87% opposed), as do independents (20%-66%), while a narrow majority (52%) of Democrats are in favor (35% opposed). The takeaway: Republicans should be afraid, very afraid of voting for fast track if they want to keep their jobs: Two-thirds (68%) of Republicans say they are less likely to vote for a Member of Congress who votes to give President Obama fast-track authority.” And congressional Republicans overwhelmingly ignored their own Republican voters on this: they voted for Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority for the President anyway. (Their billionaire campaign donors demand it.) Furthermore: “John Boehner and GOP leaders support Obama’s trade agenda.” Whereas Democratic voters were in favor of these trade-bills because they come from a ‘Democratic’ President, Republican voters were overwhelmingly opposed to these trade-bills, merely because the President had a ‘Democratic’ label — but the people who represented Republican voters in Congress served their campaign-donors on these bills, not the people back home (who would perhaps take this as ‘bipartisanship’ and consider it favorably in that false light).

After the November elections, and the billions of advertising dollars that are spent on fooling voters to re-elect their existing supposed ‘representatives’ in Congress or else to elect their opposite-Party opponents, those incumbents will then be free to pay back their donors by voting for TPP and any other Obama trade-deal.

This article also said:

The poll found voters across the board believe so-called ‘free trade’ deals are bad for working Americans:

• Two-thirds (66%) say a convincing reason to oppose fast-track authority for TPP is that “workers in countries like Vietnam and Malaysia are exploited and paid as little as 28 cents an hour, which creates unfair competition that drives down wages for American workers.”

• By a 35-point margin, the voting public believes the TPP deal would make things worse (56%) rather than better (21%) in terms of American wages and salaries.

• Three in five voters (62%) feel this is a convincing argument against fast- track authority: “This is a NAFTA-style trade deal, and since NAFTA, the United States has run up an eight-trillion-dollar trade deficit, resulting in millions of lost manufacturing jobs.”

• Voters are three times as likely to say that preventing U.S. jobs moving overseas should be a top goal for trade deals as they are to cite opening foreign markets to U.S. exports.

• By a five-to-three ratio, voters anticipate that the TPP deal would make things worse (52%) rather than better (30%) for American jobs.

Voters understand precisely who will benefit from the TransPacific Partnership – and who will be hurt:

• American voters overwhelmingly expect TPP to be a good deal for large corporations: 72% say it will help these corporations and just 17% say it will hurt them.

• However, voters have the opposite expectation when it comes to a vastly more popular institution: America’s small businesses. Just 24% feel that TPP would help small firms, while 64% think TPP will mostly hurt small businesses.

• Significantly, voters in small business households (in which a voter either owns or works for a small business) believe that TPP will harm small firms: 61% say they expect TPP to hurt more than help small businesses.

Hillary Clinton helped to pass NAFTA into law, but in both 2008 and 2016 presented herself to Democratic primary voters as if she had never favored NAFTA, TPP, or any similar legislation. Bernie Sanders has consistently voted against those bills. Donald Trump says that he’s against those bills but he has no actual voting-record by which to judge his sincerity.

So: TPP, and perhaps TTIP and TISA, will be voted on after the elections and will almost certainly be passed into law; and, if Bernie Sanders will have been elected as President, he will do everything possible to undo them. Clinton almost certainly will not. Trump is a big question-mark.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.