When U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew visited Miami in March 2015 trying to build support for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Citizens Trade Campaign and its partners were there warning that the deal poses serious risks to jobs and wages for Florida’s working families.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership isn’t going to create jobs in Miami. It’s going to offshore jobs and drive down wages,” said Luis Meurice, Business Manager for the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1922. “We’re not buying that this will do anything other than hurt Florida’s working families. We’ve heard the same line about these trade deals again and again.’
The TPP is modeled after President Obama’s largest trade to date – the Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement – which was also promised to increase U.S. exports and support job creation, but instead had the opposite result. After the Korean Free Trade Agreement’s first three years, the U.S. trade deficit in goods with South Korea has ballooned by 84 percent, equating to a loss of nearly 85,000 American jobs, according to the trade-jobs ratio the administration used to project job gains when it was first promoting the deal. Not only is the deficit up, but exports of U.S. goods to Korea have actually fallen by $2.2 billion (an estimated 5 percent).
In addition to a visit to the Port of Miami and a speech on trade policy at the University of Miami, Lew also spoke at an event hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce at Miami Dade College that was greeted by protesters.
“Sending former Wall Street executives around the country to convince people that secretive trade deals are being written to help regular people instead of corporate elites might not be the best strategy,” said Don Abicht, President of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 3122. “You’d think the White House would have someone else in its stable to promote these things, but they don’t. Opposition to them is nearly universal.”
Before joining the Obama administration, Lew was an executive of Citigroup, where, among other things, he oversaw the firms more than 100 offshore subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands. The President’s top trade advisor, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, is also a former Citigroup executive. Also traveling the country to promote the TPP is U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the billionaire founder of PSP Capital Partners.
Critics of the TPP also point out that, while the public has been barred from reviewing TPP proposals, the Obama administration has granted hundreds of corporate lobbyists special “cleared advisor” status allowing them to review and comment on TPP texts. What’s known about the TPP comes primarily from leaked documents first published by Citizens Trade Campaign and WikiLeaks.
“After keeping its TPP proposals hidden from the American public for more than five years, the administration now wants Congress to approve ‘Fast Track’ legislation that would allow the TPP to circumvent ordinary congressional review, amendment and debate procedures,” said Fred Frost, CWA International, Southern Region. “Each and every member of Florida’s congressional delegation should scoff at the idea of fast tracking this train wreck.”