More than a month after concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, the White House has finally released the text, which it had kept secret during the negotiations. Members of Congress who got granted access to it before its approval had to keep silent on its language, and even after all of the parties to TPP had approved it, Barack Obama kept it under wraps … until, coincidentally, after the off-year Election Day on Tuesday.
Once American workers read it, though, they’ll love it. You have to read all 2,000 pages of it to really feel the love:
The much-anticipated release of the final text of a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade agreement became a reality on Thursday morning, kicking off what is expected to amount to months of intensive debate on Capitol Hill.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office dropped the details of the massive 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal — 30 chapters and more than 2,000 pages — exactly one month since the agreement was completed on Oct. 5 in Atlanta.
The text of the TPP deal will be under congressional and the broader public’s microscope for at least 90 days before President Obama can sign the agreement between the United States and 11 other nations — Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore.
Gee, what other 2,000-page document did Obama promise Americans would love once (as Nancy Pelosi said) Democrats passed it so they could find out what was in it? If you like your trade protections, you can keep your trade protections, Obama says … but you’ll just have to trust him on that one, too:
The president and his top aides are preparing a public relations blitz in the coming weeks to sell the specifics of the deal to the public, with Obama highlighting the economic and foreign policy implications during a trip to Asia later this month.
“I know that if you take a look at what’s actually in the TPP, you will see that this is, in fact, a new type of trade deal that puts American workers first,” Obama wrote in a blog post on Medium on Thursday. “When it comes to Asia, one of the world’s fastest-growing regions, the rulebook is up for grabs. And if we don’t pass this agreement—if America doesn’t write those rules—then countries like China will. And that would only threaten American jobs and workers and undermine American leadership around the world.”
Well, that’s a relief! Obama is drawing a red line to keep China from exerting its dominance in the Pacific rim. That should build trust among the electorate, right? Shockingly, not everyone on his own side is convinced:
Labor union leaders remain skeptical. Celeste Drake, trade policy specialist at the AFL-CIO, said the labor federation would reserve final judgment on the TPP until after officials have time to review the full text, including the side agreements.
“Our real fear is that there probably are a lot of nice words, with good intentions” that are never enforced, Drake said.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez acknowledged in an interview that the United States has been slow to enforce labor protections in past deals, but he said the negotiators have learned from that experience and created stiffer oversight and sanctions.
And if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, and Obama’s plan will save workers $2500 a year, too! Trust him. The unions already have it clear that their trust doesn’t extend nearly this far; two days ago, the AFL-CIO posted a pretty funny article on Medium on ten things that didn’t take as long as it took Obama to release the TPP text. The highlights: Britney Spears’ marriage, the launch and return of Apollo 13, and the AIG bailout. (That last one was a particularly nice touch.)
There is one upside: Unlike the ObamaCare process that only allowed 48 hours to read through 2800 pages of legislation, Congress will have 90 days to read TPP before giving it an up-or-down vote for ratification. The problem for the White House will be that everyone else will get that time, too, and they can expect lots of excerpts to emerge that will make this look like a bad deal — either for American businesses or American workers, or likely both. With Hillary Clinton backpedaling from the deal she endorsed more than 40 times over the past few years and Obama’s track record of honoring his promises, TPP may be a dead letter already.