Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

President Obama talked about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during a meeting at the Business Roundtable on Wednesday. And well, plenty of what he said left us baffled — especially since he left a big important thing out of his remarks.

Let’s break things down, starting with POTUS talking about working with Members of Congress to support fast-tracking the TPP:

“It is somewhat challenging because of a factor that I mentioned earlier, which is Americans feeling as if their wages and incomes have stagnated.”

Mr. President, Americans aren’t just “feeling” as if their wages have stagnated. There’s plenty of evidence that wages have stalled, and researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that both wages and incomes remain stagnant for American workers because of trade with China.

“There’s a half-truth that is magnified I think in the discussions around trade that global competition has contributed to some of that wage stagnation. It’s an appealing argument. I think when you look at the numbers, it’s actually an incorrect argument… over time, growth, investment, exports all have increased the capacity for working families to improve their economic standing.”

Hey, remember that MIT wage study we just mentioned? How about the 2.7 million+ jobs that have gone offshore due to trade with China? Unfair trade has hurt millions of working families.

Now, in fairness to Obama, he did admit that these worries about trade are a “half-truth” because “some manufacturing moved offshore in the wake of China entering the WTO and as a consequence of NAFTA.” In fact, more than 2.1 million manufacturing jobs that have gone offshore and 63,000+ factories closed due to trade with China.

“If somebody is wanting to outsource, if any of the companies here wanted to locate in China, you’ve already done it. If you wanted to locate in a low-wage country with low labor standards and low environmental standards, there hasn’t been that much preventing you from doing so.”

History tells us that trade agreements lead to the additional offshoring of American jobs, and the idea that passing the TPP is the way to address outsourcing is simply misguided.

There’s plenty that the Obama Administration could have already done to address outsourcing. Ending currency manipulation by 20 countries including China (and Japan, which would be a part of the TPP) could create 5.8 million jobs in three years. Yet the administration refuses to label China a currency manipulator.

“Those who oppose these trade deals ironically are accepting a status quo that is more damaging to American workers.”

The status quo when it comes to trade is damaging American workers. If we want things to be different, the TPP has to be different than past trade agreements. And if President Obama wants Members of Congress to support the TPP, he should start listening to them.

Bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate want the TPP to include enforceable mechanisms to deter and address currency manipulation, which is vital to creating a fair playing field for American workers.

Sixty Senators and 230 House members joined together to ask President Obama to ensure the TPP includes strong and enforceable currency manipulation provisions. Senate Manufacturing Caucus Co-Chairs Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wrote to the president in January, again pressing him to take action.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is scheduled to host the latest TPP meeting in Washington next week. Once again, we hope that the Obama Administration will listen to Congress and make addressing currency manipulation a key component of these talks.