Telling People Politics

The TPP has been many years in the making, and I only recently learned what the acronym stood for. I'll be honest, I still think it stands for Toilet Paper Party, in the back of my mind. Unfortunately (fortunately?) the TPP is not a super fun party where everyone wears dresses made out of toilet paper, but an international trade agreement know as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and after five years of negotiations, it's finally ready to be voted on.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is just what it sounds like (sort of). It's a trade agreement between the United States and eleven nations of the Pacific Rim that's been called the most ambitious trade deal since NAFTA. It involves 40% of the world's economy over twelve countries, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and, of course, the United States.

The TPP (no, not the Tall People parade) eliminates tariffs on United States goods entering countries that are part of the agreement. Currently, countries that are part of TPP face high tariffs, which is an international trade word for taxes, on certain American goods, like auto parts. The administration's thinking is that the elimination of tariffs in certain industries, like manufacturing and food, will allow U.S. goods to be more competitive on the global market. The TPP also includes provisions that require countries to commit to worker's rights and protect the environment. On the whole, the agreement serves to eliminate or lower barriers to trade between the twelve nations involved in the deal. 

The TPP (not to be confused with Talented Platypus Puppets), notably, does not include China, though there is a hope that with enough countries involved in TPP, and the sizable benefits of free trade that participating countries receive, China will have significant encouragement to change their practices and sign onto the treaty.

Before this thrilling international tax law can go into place, it must be accepted in all countries, which is not guaranteed. Many lawmakers (lots of them Democrats) in the United States are not happy with the agreement, fearing that it is a threat to American jobs. While this is the first ever trade agreement the United States has signed with labor protections for workers overseas, American workers still fear that it will eliminate jobs here. Another criticism of the treaty is that large parts of it were negotiated in secret, and the benefits to big corporations outweigh the benefits to workers around the world. President Obama faces an uphill battle with Congress, as key members of his own party have spoken out against the deal.

If all this sounds familiar, it's likely because you were alive during the creation of NAFTA. President Clinton created the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, winning barely enough Democrats over to secure passage of the bill. The AFL-CIO claims that 700,000 jobs were lost due to NAFTA, a number that will potentially increase with the passage of TPP (a different entity entirely than the Totally Plastered Pandas).

However, because President Obama passed a "fast-track" bill earlier this summer, the bill's passage is slightly more secure. Congress cannot offer amendments of any kind, which will allow the bill to be presented on a straight up-or-down vote, making this a difficult choice for Representatives who want to both safeguard American jobs, and increase trade around the world. While the future of the TPP (not the same as the Tangerine Port Provision) isn't yet secure, it's never too early for President Obama to start implementing my many other ideas that start with TPP, all sprinkled throughout this blog post. Your move, Barack.

First Published: October 8, 2015