Today, the Senate advanced a measure that would give President Obama fast-track capabilities to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement with a dozen Asian nations. This is being positioned by Democrats as being harmful to the US job market by making it easier to shift commerce towards Asia. Their thoughts are correct. Their motives are not.
The pro-union party is fighting it because they believe it will steal jobs. This may be true, but the reality is that it is designed to improve the economy in general, allowing for more jobs to be created. Where they miss out is that it’s not the unions that need to be protected by TPP but the shift in economic power to Asia that is most worrisome. In the short term, it may actually create jobs. In the medium term, over the next decade or so, it will improve the economy. In the longer term, it will hurt as more clout is being positioned in manpower-rich Asia. This is why it’s a bad move for the Republicans and why the Democrats, while in opposition, are wrong about their reasoning.
Perhaps the most unfortunate part is that most of this is speculation on both sides. Nobody knows for sure what is being negotiated and giving up the ability to amend it in Congress is a huge mistake. On the surface, this seems like the type of initiative that lines up with conservative ideals. At its core, though, is a dangerous agreement shrouded in secrecy and layered with so many questions that one must wonder whether the Republicans supporting it are doing so out of principle or if they’re just passing a measure that takes the emphasis off them. They won’t be to blame if and when the TPP blows up in America’s face.
That’s the scariest part of all.