TACOMA (May 11, 2016) — Constituents gathered outside a campaign fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-6th) at the Museum of Glass on Monday night with a handful of pennies and a message: “TPP Doesn’t Make ¢ents for America.” They called on Kilmer to take a position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would expand the flawed NAFTA template to 12 countries around the Pacific, before the November elections.
While a number of prominent economists and all of the remaining presidential candidates have recently come out against the massive trade deal, Kilmer says he remains undecided. So some of his constituents, led by the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, handed out flyers outside Kilmer’s fundraiser with quotes from prominent leaders and economists on why the TPP doesn’t add up, and asked the congressman for “a penny for his thoughts.”
In the lead-up to the Oregon primaries, Hillary Clinton wrote last week, “I’m not interested in tinkering around the margins of our trade policy. I think we need a fundamental rethink of how we approach trade deals going forward. It is critical that we address labor protections and ensure that human rights are protected, as well as health, environmental, and consumer safety issues in any new trade agreements.”
Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, calls our NAFTA-style trade policy “a disaster for working Americans,” which has “allowed corporations to close thousands of factories, and ship millions of jobs to low-wage countries where people are forced to work for pennies an hour.”
Nobel economist Paul Krugman writes that we should spend no more political capital on TPP. Joseph Stiglitz says the promises for TPP are dramatically overstated and the damage TPP would do, far exceed any potential advantages. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers recently backed away from TPP, saying we should take a new approach, where “issues such as labor rights and environmental protection would be central, while issues related to empowering foreign producers would be secondary.”
Inside Kilmer’s fundraiser, some fair-trade advocates asked the congressman directly if he will insist on finding a new trade policy that does as much for workers and the environment as it does for investors and global companies. He responded that he is still studying the issue.