TPP Trade Deal Unites Obama and Business Corporations: Causes Split Among Democrats

By @diplomatist10 on
[7:35]  U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and first lady Michelle Obama (2nd L) welcome Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd R) and his wife Akie Abe (L) for a State Dinner
IN PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and first lady Michelle Obama (2nd L) welcome Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd R) and his wife Akie Abe (L) for a State Dinner in their honor at the White House in Washington, April 28, 2015. Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

President Barack Obama, who had an uneasy relation with corporate America  on many issues including Obamacare, has become the new darling of many U.S. companies, who are now out in force to support the president on his pet Pacific trade deal known as Trans Pacific Partnership. The unusual spectacle of camaderie with Mr Obama is seeing Hollywood studios to drug makers and manufacturers lending their key support in the push to negotiate the 12-nation TPP and in making it victorious in Congress, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“Our interests on this issue are aligned,” said Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. According to him, the Chamber welcomes that engagement and is looking for an early deal as it is better now than never. The new corporate bonhomie marks a stark departure from Obama administration's previous political battles with large companies and banks, when they were supporting Republicans to defeat the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul and resisted the Affordable Care Act.

Mostly, corporations have been at odds with Mr Obama on the the administration’s approach to regulation, taxes and legislative changes that had a bearing on the industries. The most visible example of supporting Mr Obama is  coming from Silicon Valley where the trade initiative is hailed by all cutting-edge businesses, in sharp contrast to the fierce opposition by labour unions, who are the working-class core of the Democratic Party.

TPP Surge

Through the 12-nation TPP, Mr Obama is trying for a paradigm shift by seeking to reframe the economic revival debate from the narrowly focused traditional manufacturing jobs to sectors that are ascendant in the U.S. and help it in retaining the competitive edge in the interconnected, yet high-tech global economy. But Mr Obama’s grand vision is not shared by many in his own Democratic party. They are not convinced and the president is facing staunch resistance from his own party and many are threatening to derail the trade deal, which is Mr Obamas’ legacy priority, reports Washington Post

“If we are going to capture the future, then we’ve got to open up markets to the kinds of things that we’re really good at, that can’t be duplicated overseas,” Mt Obama told the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce in April. “We’re good at innovation. We are good at services and can create things that other countries can’t create,” the president added.

Mr Obama is mainly opposed by an ascendant populist wing within the Democratic Party led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. “Over and over, America’s workers have taken the brunt of bad trade deals,” the former Harvard professor told the Roosevelt Institute recently.

China Factor

The White House also regards the TPP is crucial in halting the rising China. The Democrat opponents say that the White House has put the interests of big business above the concerns of blue-collar workers. Already many independent economists have stated that that TPP could have the biggest impact in the U.S.

Many see the resistance within Democrats as absence of an evolution in economic thinking. They are still pitching for a manufacturing revival as the key to elevate millions of workers into the middle class. However, in recent months some of the party’s economic thinkers also started admitting that it will be hard because manufacturing employment is falling all across the world as factories are getting automated.

Mike Ward, a lobbyist for Tech industry noted that the digital economy has grown immeasurably since the last time Congress approved fast-track trade promotion authority for George W. Bush in 2002. “That was before the iPhone existed,” Ward said and now digital economy is different.”  The tech industry is all for provisions in the TPP that would restrict nations from requiring Internet companies in the United States to house data servers in foreign countries to do business, which ultimately curtails the flow of information across borders.

(For feedback/comments, contact the writer at k.kumar@ibtimes.com.au)