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Trans-Pacific Deal Live Before January 2017: White House Goes For Broke

© AFP 2023 / SAUL LOEBDemonstrators protest against the legislation to give US President Barack Obama fast-track authority to advance trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Demonstrators protest against the legislation to give US President Barack Obama fast-track authority to advance trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - Sputnik International
The White House is eyeing the foreign policy benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which hypothetically outweigh the economic downsides of the entire deal; however, as isolationist fervor is gaining momentum stateside, the outgoing president’s political ambitions are meeting harsher resistance from both the left and the right.

enator Bernie Sanders looks on after the Vermont delegation cast their votes during roll call on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 - Sputnik International
So Long TPP? Leading Democrats Abandon Obama Legacy Trade Deal
Kristian Rouz — The outgoing Obama administration announced on Monday that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade and investment deal with 12 Pacific Rim nations could be finalized and go into effect before the sitting President leaves office at noon, 20 January, 2017. In light of broadening opposition to the deal from both the right and the left, with GOP nominee Donald Trump being the most vocal opponent of such trade agreements, the current administration is pushing the deal through, motivated primarily by political considerations rather than economic reasoning.

The current administration sees the US losing political influence in the Pacific Rim, and is attempting to solidify its cooperation with perceived US allies in the region by promoting a greater interconnectedness, which it hopes to achieve through the power of multinational corporations.

"The president is going to make a strong case that we have made progress and there is a path for us to get this done before the president leaves office," Josh Earnest, spokesperson for the Obama administration, said. Obama is going on a tour of Asia this week.

The statement sparked outrage on both the environmentalist, labor-conscious political left, and the protectionist, national-economy minded right wing of the spectrum.

Economist and Noble laureate Joseph Stiglitz, who has won praise on the left, said that Barack Obama's effort to get the deal approved in Congress is "outrageous" and "absolutely wrong".

"At the lame-duck session you have congressmen voting who know that they're not accountable anymore," Stiglitz told CNN. "They've been kicked out. And… a lot of people who are not politically accountable because they're not leaving may, in response to promises of jobs or, you know, just subtle understandings, do things that are not in the national interest."

Obama is planning to get the US Congress to approve of the deal between November 9 and January 3, the last session of the partially outgoing legislature.

"The advocates of trade said it was going to benefit everyone," Stiglitz noted. "The evidence is it's benefited a few and left a lot behind."

A placard during a rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - Sputnik International
'Questionable Benefit': TPP Under Threat Over 'Corporate Court' Clause
On the political right, the so-called "Trumptrain" has dashed through the complex set of issues that America is facing with an unprecedented decisiveness and devil-may-care attitude; isolationist sentiment is particularly rife. They not only claim that the TPP is misguided because the trade deals are unfair, but also maintain the TPP puts the US in an unfavorable position economically, while foreign policy gains are not obvious. In other words, it only offers gains to the "special interests."

The Donald Trump campaign's newly-found mouthpiece, Breitbart, recently emphasized the "TPP's tiny benefits and huge regressive redistribution of income from blacks and Hispanic Democrats to low-wage countries," supporting the claim with references to academic research.

According to estimates by economist Josh Bivens, Breitbart said, imports from cheap labor countries to the US almost tripled between 1992 and 2011, essentially impairing the performance of the US-based manufacturing sector. The outlet also cites the negative impact of trade deals on salaries and wages, stressing that during the same period blue-collar salaries dropped by 5.5 percent, to $1,800/year for a full-time position.

White House officials, however, say the failure or reluctance of the US to strike the deal could embolden mainland China to partake in an expansionist "checkbook diplomacy" in the Pacific Rim.

"It would be seen as a significant setback, I think, for the American leadership if we don't move forward," Ben Rhodes, who advises the Obama administration on national security matters, said.

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