The TPP debate has turned into quite a melodrama recently, and one that may have profound implications for conservatives. Tea Party and constitutional conservatives increasingly oppose TPP as they learn more about it, but conservative candidates for President are increasingly supporting it publically – Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, andTed Cruz have all expressed support for fast-track authority to the President on the free-trade bill/treaty. Rand Paul opposes it, but his positions on immigration/open borders and on foreign policy make him unpalatable to most true conservatives.
So who can they turn to if those thought to be solid conservative candidates all support something they can’t stomach? Who will they be able to turn to carry the conservative agenda into the White House? Perhaps no one. Even worse if TPP passes, it could undermine US sovereignty, further burying conservative’s hope for another Reagan Revolution type rebirth of conservatism to save America from further decline, therefore, the implications of TPP may be profound, so let’s explore the issue further.
Trade “experts” disagree on whether the previous big free trade agreement,NAFTA, was a good thing or a bad thing. Trade increased, but imports increased more than exports.
Credit: McGraw-Hill Education/Mike Wirth
The effect on US jobs is impossible to measure accurately due to complicating factors such as normal economic growth, the Great Recession, advances in technology and productivity, illegal immigration, and others things that have occurred in the 20 years since NAFTA was implemented. However, as the chart
below shows, the exporting of American jobs increased significantly in the years after NAFTA was ratified in 1994. Perhaps that was just coincidence, but regardless of what the statistics may or may not show, logic tells us that if imports into the USA increased more than exports, then our NAFTA trading partners benefited more than the USA. That’s how international economics works: countries that sell (export) more to other countries than they buy (import) get wealthier and vice versa. So from this analysis alone we can conclude that NAFTA was a bad thing for America.
Now “the powers that be” (corporations and their tools, most politicians) are back for more. This time they want a free trade agreement with Pacific nations such as Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. It is interesting to note that all three NAFTA members will most likely be “partners” in TPP too. Other countries could join later such as China. But something more sinister has been implicated with TPP. The name itself (Trans-Pacific Partnership) may be a clue: NAFTA was an agreement between nations; TPP is a “partnership” of nations. In business a partnership means there is joint ownership by two or more people of a business, not an agreement between two or more separate businesses.
To put a sharper point on it, on June 10, 2015, Jeff Sessions, the solid conservative Senator from Alabama, has said the President is trying to create a “union” of Pacific countries created through TPP as it is a “living” agreement that could evolve into something like the European Union,without further Congressional approval required. If that happened, the USA could lose some of its sovereignty because it, like all TPP member nations (partners), would only have one vote, so other much smaller and less powerful countries, would equal its power in that union.
The next day, Ted Cruz, a frequent ally of Jeff Sessions on the Senate floor, spoke in support of fast-track authority for TPP and said that Jeff is wrongabout the loss of sovereignty that could evolve from it. Creating even more intrigue is the fact the agreement and negotiations with the other Pacific “partners” are shrouded in secrecy – the public cannot read the TPP, members of Congress can only read it in a secure location, cannot make copies, take notes, or even discuss it with others. If the agreement is good for our country, then why is it kept in secrecy? Do they fear it will not stand the scrutiny of the public? Is this any way to run a republic?
How can we know if Jeff is right or Ted? If the TPP will be a living agreement, then changes to it will be beyond the control of Congress, and the President too as he or she can easily be outvoted by other members and we have agreed in advance to adhere to the terms of the agreement, so we must assume that means we must adhere to those changing terms in the future.
It is telling to note that Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, voted against the fast-track authority which will delay the TPP ratification process, perhaps even killing it altogether. But why would the President be on the same side of the issue with conservatives in Congress while his previously staunchest supporters are against it? Perhaps they fear losing their seats in the next election because of the opposition to TPP by big unions, while the President has no more elections to face. The problem for conservative candidates is that if they side with corporations in supporting TPP, they risk losing the support of grassroots, blue collar conservative voters.
It is issues such as these that separate the true constitutional / Tea Party conservatives from the corporatists and RINOs. Seeing who supports TPP will enable the electorate to more easily choose the candidate they wish to support. The problem is what if there is no one left who do not support TPP or amnesty / open borders? What do true conservatives do then?
We need to wait for more information about what is really in this secret agreement, if any becomes available, and to see who will support it in its final form. So let’s not panic just yet.