The TPP, Profit and the Demise of the American Middle Class
There’s very unusual rhetoric coming out of Washington these days. The Republican Congress, the poster child for governmental obstructionism, is talking about President Obama in very conciliatory terms and claiming it wants to cooperate with him. Has Congress miraculously decided that governing through compromise was the real reason they were voted into office? Has Obama thrown his support behind one of the Republican Clown Car passengers running for president? Have the Republicans partaken of a “Let’s Be Civil and Act like Professionals” Stepford Tea concoction?
No, the only “T” the Obama administration and the Republicans are sharing is the “T” in Trans-Pacific, as in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Also known as the TPP, this is latest best kept secret on how to screw the American worker and middle class.
What is the TPP? Most people ask that question because the TPP has been hidden from public scrutiny as much as possible. The TPP is a new trade agreement that would include the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei. In the future, China, Cambodia, and a number of other Pacific Rim countries will also be petitioning for membership.
The information that has been released about the treaty states that it will be good for American workers. It will reduce our trade deficits with member countries and create more jobs in the US. It will protect the intellectual properties of American companies and prevent their business from being impacted by piracy. It will reduce tariffs that prevent American goods from being competitive with products manufactured locally in those member countries. In addition, it will help erase trade deficits and create new jobs for Americans.
We are talking about a free trade agreement covering at least a dozen countries stretching from Chile to Malaysia. The agreement covers about 800 million people and about 40% of the world’s economy. It is intended to allow goods to flow freely among member countries and to increase jobs by offering broader markets for finished goods. It’s being touted as the perfect compromise between free trade and protectionism.
And that is where the Big Lie comes in.
Every time the US enters into a major trade agreement like this, it ends up costing American jobs.
Between 1997 and 2014, the implementation of major trade agreements cost the US more than 5 million manufacturing jobs.
In 1992, the US, Mexico, and Canada signed the NAFTA agreement to lower tariffs, erase trade deficits, and create jobs in the US. Between 1997 and 2013, the US trade deficit with those two countries went from $17 billion to $177 billion, a more than tenfold increase. The US suffered the loss of 850,000 jobs due to that agreement.
In 2000, the US stopped blocking the entry of China into the World Trade Organization. Bill Clinton claimed this was a “win-win” situation and would create hundreds of thousands of new American jobs. From 2001 to 2014, the trade deficit between the US and China mushroomed to $240 billion. The US suffered a loss of over 3 million jobs due to that agreement.
In 2012, a free trade agreement between the US and Korea, known as KORUS, was implemented to reduce tariffs, to erase trade deficits, and to create jobs in the US. Between 2011 and 2014, the US increased exports to Korea by about $1 billion. During that same period, imports from Korea increased by $13 billion, a net increase of $12 billion. The US suffered a loss of 75,000 jobs due to that agreement.
These statistics do not include the numerous jobs that were lost to other free trade “partners” such as Viet Nam (Communist), Chile (anti-American), and Brunei (Islamist dictatorship.)
Over the life of these trade agreements, the average American worker’s pay dropped. Full time jobs employing well paid skilled tradesmen dropped by almost 3 million. US workers without a college degree had an average $1800 per year drop in wages. With about 100 million workers falling into this category, that means the trade agreements which were supposed to promote American prosperity and create jobs have, in reality, cost US workers $180 billion in lost jobs and earnings.
Doesn’t it seem rather strange that politicians would continue to support these types of trade agreements when they are so harmful to the US worker and economy? Why in the world would the politicians in Washington continue to support program after program that robs hard working Americans of their jobs?
How about the fact that their major financial contributors, major American and FOREIGN corporations, will see a major increase to their bottom line? Oh my, it’s that dirty word again – profits.
If the TPP agreement goes through, tariffs, which are already historically low, will make foreign goods from other member countries even cheaper and will lead to increased imports. The big corporations, who continue to move jobs out of the US, will have a larger, cheaper labor pool for manufacturing their goods. By closing facilities in the US, they will no longer have to pay “livable” American level wages to manufacture their products.
The agreement, and a similar one between the US and Europe, mandates an international law review board to oversee patent, copyright, and intellectual property disputes. This tribunal, essentially a League of Corporate Bought Private Attorneys, will supersede any government agency and could turn any trans-national corporation into a monopoly by stamping out any chance of competition. This legal board will also protect corporations from “unjust appropriations” of foreign assets. That means if a company, such as BP, creates a major catastrophe, such as an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the US and its citizens will not be able sue because it would “unfairly diminish” BP’s profits.
And there it is again – profits. That’s what it’s all about.
The TPP will not help the American people. It will not generate new jobs, bring back the middle class, or protect the American workers still lucky enough to have a decent paying job with benefits. This treaty is a good deal for big business and their paid-for politicians only, which is why the White House is negotiating the treaty behind closed doors. It’s also why Congress is not fighting Obama on what could be a major portion of his legacy and discussions of this treaty are being kept a secret from the American people.
Please read up on this treaty and find a way to oppose it. Unless you are one of the “1%,” this treaty is toxic. It is toxic for the American people, for the American economy, and for the already under-siege American worker. The TPP is just plain bad for America.