Former USTR Comes Out Against TPP -- Though Not Necessarily For The Best Reasons

from the the-tpp-fight-continues dept

People who have worked for the USTR tend to pretty religiously support any and all new trade agreements, so it seems somewhat noteworthy that the former USTR, and now Senator, Rob Portman, has come out against the TPP agreement, saying that he doesn't think that it's a good deal. There are, of course, a number of caveats here that potentially make this at least slightly less of a big deal than it might otherwise be. Specifically:
  1. There's a pretty good chance he's doing this purely for political reasons. He's in a tight re-election campaign for the Senate, and his opponent has been quite opposed to basically any trade deal including the TPP -- and many Ohio residents (i.e. voters) believe (rightly or wrongly) that trade deals mean fewer manufacturing jobs. Portman was also a big proponent of pushing through "Trade Promotion Authority" or fast track, which was seen as a sort of proxy vote on TPP, because it would bind Congress's hands to just an up/down vote on the TPP, without any ability to push back on particular aspects of the agreement. And, Portman also made it clear he could change his mind if the TPP was "improved."
  2. Some of the reasons he's given seem to track with those of Senator Orrin Hatch, in complaining that the TPP doesn't go far enough in expanding intellectual property rights, mainly for big pharmaceutical companies (specifically data exclusivity rules around "biologics.")
So, it could certainly be argued that his speaking out against the TPP are for suspect reasons (and of suspect authenticity). Still, it is rather incredible that a former USTR would proactively say that they don't support such a major trade agreement, and highlights (at the very least) just how toxic the TPP has become with the voting public. And of course, that should raise some pretty serious questions. If the voting public doesn't support the TPP at all, why are we continuing to pursue it?

Filed Under: rob portman, tpp, ustr

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  1. icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 10 Feb 2016 @ 8:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If the voting public doesn't support the TPP at all, why are we continuing to pursue it?

    They should - I agree.

    But investors who follow the rules shouldn't have the rug pulled out from under them.

    It's fine to change the rules and say "new factories, starting today, must pay for their pollution". I support that.

    But if somebody follows the rules, then the rules change after they've invested, they should be compensated.

    Suppose I build a fancy pool in my backyard. I get all the permits, follow all the code, etc. I do things by the book. I invest a lot of money.

    Then, afterward, the city decides to ban pools because mosquitoes breed there.

    This is for the public good. I accept that. The city should have that power - I accept that. But the homeowner, who followed all the rules, should be compensated for their loss.

    I don't see it as fair that the pool builder gets to pay a "tax" for the public good that everyone else doesn't have to pay - why should that unlucky guy be the only one who loses?

    If it's for the public good, it should be paid for out of general tax revenue - the pool-builder should be compensated out of that.

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