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Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 12/10/2015 Jerry Jasinowski

Where Are The Friends of Trade? - by Jerry Jasinowski
"If you want a friend in Washington," said President Harry S Truman, "get a dog."
Truman knew his city well. Politicians are ever and always glad handing whoever is around and agreeing - or seeming to agree - to nearly every proposal they hear. They are unfailingly loyal to close friends - until it proves inconvenient. They are weather vanes always with a finger in the air discerning which way the wind is blowing. Loyalty, friendships and principles cannot be allowed to impede political expediency.
Hillary Clinton's abrupt reversal of her long-standing support of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a breakthrough trade agreement between North America and major Pacific Rim nations, is a classic example of the triumph of political expediency over personal loyalty, not to mention the nation's interests. President Obama has touted the TPP as a cornerstone of his foreign policy and potentially his legacy as well. As his Secretary of State, Clinton championed the TPP as a major advance for our country's commercial interests, which it promises to be. But then she noticed that the nation's economic interests were no longer in sync with her own political interests.
Of course, Clinton is making an effort to justify her abrupt about face with serious policy analysis. She said that though she hasn't actually seen the draft document, some of the things she has heard about it suggest it does not meet her standards.
I am sure it does not meet her standards, or mine for that matter, or yours. It is a long, dense, intricate reflection of years of intense deliberations among many nations with competing interests. The point was to break down trade barriers and promote commerce which everyone agrees will help spur economic growth around the world. But in any trade agreement, there are inevitably winners and losers. That is why the Administration, ably assisted by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, paved the way with "fast track" legislation ahead of the TPP - so individual members of Congress would not be able to pick the TPP apart piece by piece because certain things do not meet their standards.
The TPP already faced a hard climb in Congress (as well as among other signatory nations). Liberal Democrats and some conservative Republicans are against it, and a major swath of the business community, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, are wavering. All of which leaves one to wonder just who out there, other than the beleaguered Obama Administration, is for it.
This is disheartening to say the least. Clinton's defection will inevitably put the TPP front and center in next year's elections. Already some are suggesting a vote on the TPP will be delayed until after the election. Failure to approve the TPP would seriously compromise this nation's historic commitment to free trade and undermine our quest to become more competitive. Those who support TPP, but are concerned about the political implications, should broaden their pitch to promote TPP as a key part of a general campaign for competitiveness.
Jerry Jasinowski, an economist and author, served as President of the National Association of Manufacturers for 14 years and later The Manufacturing Institute. Jerry is available for speaking engagements. October 2015

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