Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator


MAY 8, 2015 -- Ian Bremmer in Time Magazine (5/11/15) writes: "The Trans-Pacific Partnership could help the U.S. counter China and Asia."

If that's so, why not let Congress debate and amend the agreement, like we do all treaties? President Obama won't let Congress debate and amend the agreement because he knows that the bad provisions in the agreement will be amended by Congress. In 2010, the United States Senate considered over a dozen amendments to the Start Treaty. Why not debate and amend the TPP? I voted for NAFTA with Canada because Canada has the same standard of living provisions as the U.S. Mexico doesn't, so I voted against NAFTA with Mexico. We were promised that NAFTA with Mexico would increase 200,000 jobs in the U.S. Instead, we lost over a million jobs. These free trade agreements only open markets for the multinationals but they damage the U.S. economy.

After World War II, Japan closed its market, subsidized its manufacture, and sold its manufactured exports at cost; making up the profit in the closed market. As a result, General Motors and Detroit were forced into bankruptcy and the textile industry in South Carolina was decimated. We have the skills in SC to produce the "ultimate driving machine for BMW" and Boeing's Globemaster but we still have 6.7% unemployment because we've lost our textile industry to Japan. Not long ago, Ford's Vice President was complaining that he couldn't sell any Fords in Tokyo because of its closed market. I want to see if TPP opens the closed market of Japan. I want to make sure that foreign corporations are not given special rights to sue the United States for loss of profits with the determination made by some international tribunal rather than the legal system of the United States.

The habit of American Presidents is to fix the vote of the trade leadership in the House and Senate on trade agreements. Once the trade leadership is fixed, the President pressures for fast track treatment, with no amendments, and an up or down vote. Treaties between governments are submitted to the Senate to debate, amend and then sent to the President for ratification. The Senate is allowed to debate and amend treaties, why not the TPP agreement?

President Obama announced his "pivot to Asia" by deploying 2500 Marines to Australia. At the time, the President didn't mention trade with China or Asia. Corporate America was building China's economy as it exported or offshored the U.S. economy - mainly to China. Wall Street, the big banks, and Corporate America want to keep the China profits flowing, so they contribute to the President and Congress to not compete in globalization; to not enforce our trade laws against closed markets and predatory practices; to do nothing to attract Corporate America's investment and production in America; to do nothing to protect and build the U.S. economy. The President and Congress do nothing but fundraise.

President Obama and Congress keep assuming that China is the adversary while Corporate America treats China as its best friend. The exact opposite should occur. Corporate America should be investing and producing in the United States and competing with China's production. The U.S. foreign policy with China must be applied with more understanding. When the Chinese spilled over the Yalu River into North Korea in the Korean War, the U.S. retreated to the 38th parallel. We could have had victory in the Vietnam War in two months by bombing North Vietnam but we spent ten years losing because we were fearful that our going above Hanoi would cause China to come into Vietnam.

The United States is sensitive about casualties while China is not.
The nuclear weapon has checkmated our foreign and defense policy. After Pearl Harbor, we have no reason to trust Japan, but the nuclear weapon causes us to trust China. The media has not reported what President Obama and Prime Minister Abe agreed to, but we all know that Congress is not going to send G.I.'s to be killed over the Senakaku Islands.

Rather than leading with the military, the U.S. ought to be leading with the Good Neighbor or economic in foreign policy. It would have been better to include China in the Trans- Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2015, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

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Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives. Today, Hollings continues to be influential in public affairs and offers this website as a compendium of current and past positions on public issues. Learn more about Fritz Hollings.

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