by Nika Knight
In defiant opposition to this election’s anti-trade sentiment, President Barack Obama is provoking progressive outrage with events around the country in an “all-out push,” as Politico puts it, to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress.
The nationwide campaign was announced by the White House on Tuesday. Politico reports:
The White House is making an all-out push to win passage of the deal in the lame-duck session of Congress, organizing 30 events over the congressional recess to gin up support for the agreement, considered key to Obama’s strategy to counter China in the Asia-Pacific region. The strategy is to offer support and cover to the small flock of Democrats who supported legislation to fast-track the deal and to remind wavering Republicans that they oppose it at their own peril because of its strong business support.
Despite his embrace of [Hillary] Clinton, Obama has been unwilling to abandon a deal that he regards as central to his legacy simply to avoid political fallout for her campaign. Although Clinton came out against the deal last fall, she supported it while secretary of state, making her vulnerable to attacks—first from Bernie Sanders and now from Donald Trump—that her opposition is politically motivated and therefore changeable.
“Well, right now, I’m president, and I’m for it,” Obama said at a press conference earlier this month. “And I think I’ve got the better argument. And I’ve made this argument before. I’ll make it again: We are part of a global economy. We’re not reversing that.”
Adam Green, head of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), argued that such aggressive promotion for the unpopular trade deal will hurt, not help, Democratic politicians in November.
In a press statement, Green particularly warned against the advantage such a campaign would give to Trump at the polls: “President Obama’s events around the nation in favor of passing the corporate-written TPP after the election will hurt Democratic chances of success this November—and help Donald Trump’s chances with blue collar voters.”
“Hillary Clinton has signaled she will personally work to kill the corporate-written TPP if it comes up after the election in an unaccountable lame-duck Congress,” Green added. “All Democrats should speak loudly and consistently against the TPP, including specifically opposing a lame-duck vote. President Obama needs to stop undermining Clinton’s efforts, listen to his own party and take the TPP off the table before the election.”
Bernie Sanders, who made opposition to the TPP a central tenet of his presidential run, also expressed disappointment with the president’s effort to pass the trade agreement through a lame-duck vote, as Common Dreams reported.
“In my view, it is now time for the leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate and the House to join Secretary Clinton and go on the record in opposition to holding a vote on this job-killing trade deal during the lame-duck session of Congress and beyond,” Sanders said.
In response to the White House’s renewed TPP push, PCCC and fellow progressive organizations Democracy for America and Credo Action have begun circulating an online petition among “an estimated 5 million members,” Politico writes, in an email with the subject line “Shame on Obama.”
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