Critical Alert: White House Refuses to Answer Even the Most Basic Questions about Its Global Trade Pact, May 12, 2015
TPP PROMOTERS WANT US TO FAST-TRACK IT BEFORE WE KNOW WHAT’S IN IT; WHITE HOUSE WON’T EVEN ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT GLOBAL TRADE PACT’S EFFECT ON JOBS, WAGES, OR THE TRADE DEFICIT; CRS CONFIRMS GLOBAL TRADE PACT WILL SUPERSEDE U.S. LAW AND SUBJECT COUNTRY TO INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNALSWith Congress set to vote to begin debate on fast-track authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the White House still refuses to answer even the most basic questions about it. These are the questions the White House will not answer:• Will it increase or reduce the trade deficit, and by how much?• Will it increase or reduce employment and wages, and by how much?• Will you make the “living agreement” section public and explain fully its implications?• Will China be added to the TPP?• Will you pledge not to issue any executive actions, or enter into any future agreements, impacting the flow of foreign workers into the United States?Proponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership want us to fast-track it before we know what’s in it. They want us to trust that enforcement will occur, even though it has not in the past. They want us to trust that the President won’t utilize this broad new avenue to expand foreign worker programs, even though his record demonstrates that he will. They want us to trust that this time is different.One of the most important areas TPP proponents ignore is the issue of non-tariff barriers. The barriers to U.S. exports in this century are increasingly not conventional tariffs, but non-tariff barriers like currency manipulation, backdoor taxes, and a variety of state-sanctioned obstacles to market entry. Under the TPP, the U.S. will lower its tariffs but competitor industries will retain their substantial non-tariff barriers. This is what Nucor Steel’s Chairman Emeritus, Daniel DiMicco, means when he talks about “unilateral American trade disarmament” and the “enablement of foreign mercantilism.” In other words, poorly-negotiated trade deals, instead of opening new markets for our industries, tilt the playing field even further in their competitors’ direction. The result is not freer global trade, but more mercantilist market domination.Millions of Americans, and their communities, have lost good-paying jobs because of our government’s chronic failure to confront currency manipulation and a variety of other illicit trading practices. Perhaps that is why Americans, by a 70-30 margin, say the last two decades of trade deals have benefitted other countries rather than our own. What message should that send Washington?Rushing to fast-track a new global pact encompassing 40 percent of global GDP—one that includes Vietnam, which has been described as the next China—is not conservative. Conservativism is to proceed with caution, guided by the results of history, with a willingness to adjust one’s position based on real-world results.The recent trade deal with our strong ally South Korea, we were told, would boost our exports to them by more than $10 billion, but in reality increased them by less than $1 billion—while South Korea’s imports to us soared more than $12 billion, widening our trade gap with them considerably.While fast-track provides negotiating objectives, they are not enforceable in any meaningful way: if the Trans-Pacific Partnership or any future trade deal ignores those objectives, it is unlikely Congress will do anything about it. Practically speaking, the negotiating objectives operate as mere suggestions. And, as the Congressional Research Service explains, the fast-tracked deal “would supersede existing U.S. law” and result in the U.S. being “bound by international law,” arbitrated by a global tribunal.Members of Congress have a choice: they can either put blind faith in the verbal assurances of the Obama Administration—that this time is different—or they can demand that we slow down, read the fine print, and not fast-track anything unless we can be sure it will increase, not reduce, jobs and wages.