TPP Teeters in US Congress

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Yves here. I’m a little leery of giving The Donald such prominent play, but he happens to be right on the TPP. Moreover, given his popularity among Republicans, he’s a valid indicator of a large swathe of opinion in that party. And there is no way that Obama gets the TPP passed if enough Republicans fail to fall in line.

By Leith van Onselen who has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs. You can follow him on Twitter at Originally published at MacroBusiness

After Democratic front-runner, Hilary Clinton’s, recently voiced her opposition, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is facing an increasingly difficult task in being ratified by Congress.

US Republicans appear to be split over the deal, with front-runner Donald Trump tweeting several direct critiques of what the Obama administration negotiated:

ScreenHunter_9888 Oct. 22 11.02

Trump has also previously labelled the TPP “a disaster”.

Others in the Republican movement are more supportive, such as Jeb Bush, who has thrown his support behind the pact.

Meanwhile, President Obama is in damage control, looking to shore up Democratic support for the TPP after Clinton’s public opposition:

President Barack Obama was scheduled to meet with congressional Democrats at the White House on Wednesday evening in an effort to convince them to rescue his landmark Pacific Rim trade pact as it faces increasingly long odds.

…many Democrats appear hardened in their opposition ahead of a 90-day review period that precedes an up-or-down vote on the deal – which could still change as participating nations continue to negotiate their own side agreements. And with lawmakers granting the president so-called “fast-track” authority to negotiate the multilateral agreement by the narrowest of margins this summer, Obama has little room for error…

It seems most sides are dissatisfied with the TPP.

The powerful US pharmaceutical lobby is livid that the TPP did not secure better monopoly protections, whereas Big Tobacco and its representatives in Congress are furious that the industry has been carved-out of the investor-state dispute settlement provision, thus limiting its ability to take legal action against member states that regulate against the tobacco industry. Whereas on the left, opponents to the TPP include organised labor and most environmental groups who are concerned about the TPP’s impacts on American jobs and the environment.

Given the mounting opposition to the TPP, rumors have emerged that the Obama Administration will wait until the lame duck session after next year’s Presidential Election to give Congress the chance to take its first vote on the deal, effectively delaying ratification to late-2016 at the earliest.

For now, political opposition in the US and elsewhere remains the best chance of the TPP being scuttled, or at least delayed.

Given the dubious provisions surrounding intellectual property and investor-state dispute settlement, here’s hoping.

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  1. skippy

    Did Trump really say “does not stop Japans currency manipulation” some one should point out to him Americas long history of using its currency as a financial weapon, South America, Asia, Russia, et al.

    Decades of ideological driven currency manipulation…. *sigh* – Chicago school….

    Skippy…. what Bancor could have been, but for miss placed exceptionalism… dbl sigh…

    1. Clive

      Yes, indeed, people with glass central banks shouldn’t throw quantitative easing. Or something like that anyway.

      1. skippy

        “people with glass central banks shouldn’t throw quantitative easing”

        I’ll be using that if you don’t mind.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Hillary made a similar statement, but Americans revel in hypocrisy. It’s the only logical explanation. Given our behavior over the last 20+ years, there is no reason for the world not to isolate this country as a dangerous police state and glorified gulag allied with the most repulsive regimes on the planet, the Gulf monarchies.

  2. Christopher Fay

    Trump is so 80s complaining about Japanese currency manipulation. China’s manipulation is the place to be at now.

    Anyways the manipulation is now the States, we’re using our economic clout to barrel our way through the world.

    1. skippy

      Per your comment…

      October 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      Trump’s comment about Japanese currency manipulation is hilarious. Is he still living in the 1980s? I half expect to see him organise a media stunt where he sledgehammers a made-in-USA Toyota to decry imports. I would have thought the appropriate bogeyman was China given it’s, you know, 2015.

    2. Rhondda

      It may be so 80’s but it does seem to be true. The Tylers at ZH post on that topic — seems like — once a day.

  3. ProNewerDeal

    should I be worried about Paul Ryan becoming House Speaker? IIRC 0bama opined he (my paraphrase) “personally likes P Ryan, & feels he can negotiate with P Ryan”. I’m worried that 0bama/P Ryan might pass the TPP &/or the Grand Ripoff, perhaps in the Nov-Dec 2016 Lame Duck session.

        1. Rhondda

          …and whose “household income” was supplemented by SS survivor’s benefits. Not saying they weren’t deserved…just saying…

    1. craazyboy

      He’s the #1 Tea Party Hero. Also the biggest deceiver of the little Tea Partiers whom believe when he says cut government spending to cut biz & personal taxes means something beneficial for the small folk – when in fact he’s giving the tax breaks to big biz, wants a flat tax because it’s regressive, and is coming after your SS, and the Imperial Empire is “small government”, and all this will float your boat too!. (to quote Rush Limbaugh)

      Worse than Boehner.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Yes. Ryan was picked as the VP nominee to appeal to voters who had issues with Mitt’s religion. He’s only rationale by the standards of Versailles where John McCain is treated as anything other than a deranged lunatic, escaped from the asylum.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Viewed from abroad there are large swathes of American society that appear to be certifiable. The 40% who believe in Rapture, not science. The 40% who believe the way to stop school shootings is to arm all teachers. The 40% who believe an inexperienced young black one-term state senator made their health care or their banking or their job security better. The 40% who believe a female Wall St stooge, serial liar, and unrepentant war monger is just going to bake nice cookies when she is president. I could go on and on.

    3. wbgonne

      should I be worried about Paul Ryan becoming House Speaker?

      Yes. Very much. Ryan is all-in for TPP and was all-in for the Grand Bargain, too. Ryan is an abject corporatist, an old-school GOP business conservative, not a flame-throwing Tea Partier. And he is smart. Ryan and Obama could do a lot of damage together.

    4. Vatch

      Among the many things wrong with Paul Ryan is his opposition to reforming the carried interest tax loophole. As the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, he is very influential on tax policy. This article is a few months old, and was written before Trump and Sanders became leading candidates for their parties’ nominations, but I doubt that Ryan has changed his position:

  4. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re: … “Given the mounting opposition to the TPP, rumors have emerged that the Obama Administration will wait until the lame duck session after next year’s Presidential Election to give Congress the chance to take its first vote on the deal, effectively delaying ratification to late-2016 at the earliest.”

    There is a longstanding pattern of using Congressional recesses and Lame Duck sessions to pressure members of Congress to pass legislation that the incumbents know is opposed by the majority of the American people. Perhaps the most prominent example of this tactic was the Federal Reserve Act that was quietly passed on the night of December 23, 1913 and signed into law by then President Woodrow Wilson.

    But as was the case with TARP “Shock Doctrine” and the obfuscation of terms in the ACA, there are a number of other tactics also being applied in this instance.

    These range from keeping the specific terms of these agreements secret and withholding them from the American people for as long as possible to minimize public opposition; deceptively branding them as “trade” agreements; characterizing opponents as deficient; hiding the level of public opposition and massive demonstrations against these agreements in Europe and elsewhere; and giving key corporate and Wall Street lobbyists everything their paymasters want in the sections of the legislation that pertain to their respective industry sectors, thereby neutralizing potential sources of opposition to the overall agreement.

    I do not underestimate the hidden powers of those who are pushing for passage of these agreements despite widespread public opposition. The reasons Why they are doing so will likely be revealed in time if they have not already.

    1. Synoia

      I do not underestimate the hidden powers of those who are pushing for passage of these agreements

      I do. Money.

  5. moe

    I don’t know…maybe since Big Tobacco and the Pharmaceutical industry are against it – we should be for it!!!!

    1. Synoia

      Methinks they do protest too much.

      The TPP include a ratshit, or is it ratchet, mechanism to modify the terms in the future without requiring parliamentary votes which provides moneyed interests oppressed supra-national corporations a second, third, fourth, and so on, chance.

      Of course the countries get no second chance at the terms. When you surrender sovereignty, how do you get it back (ask any King).

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