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Inside Washington

What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.

“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.

TPP or Not TPP – That Is the Question

Inside Washington

Trade ageement provides campaign fodder

By Dave Ficere

Amidst the rhetoric and mud-slinging that’s common during a presidential campaign, the eyes of most voters glaze over when the talk turns to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, commonly known as the TPP.

A recent Morning Consult poll showed more people supporting the Obama-backed TPP, although most voters – 62 percent – still say they have heard little or nothing about the agreement.

The deal – a proposed trade agreement reached last fall between 12 countries along the Pacific Rim, excluding China – would supposedly lower or eliminate many tariffs on trade, while introducing new standards for labor, environmental responsibility, and other objectives. It presently awaits approval by the U.S. Congress and the legislatures of other countries involved in the deal.

TPP is staunchly supported by President Obama, as part of what many see as a legacy-building effort. 

“Right now, I’m president and I’m for it, and I think I’ve got the better argument,” the president recently said during a press conference with Singapore’s Prime Minister, who is also in favor of the deal.

But Obama appears to be standing alone, with even members of his own political party opposed to the deal.

“Nearly every constituency in the Democratic Party opposes it; and the more they learn about it, the more they oppose it,” writes William Finnegan in The New Yorker. “And yet their leader, Obama, wants it badly.”

Both major-party presidential nominees, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, oppose the TPP. While Clinton hasn’t talked about it much, she initially supported the deal, calling it something that “sets the gold standard in trade agreements.” However, during her bruising primary battle with Bernie Sanders – a staunch opponent of the TPP and similar deals – Clinton came out against it.

Trump's opposition has become a cornerstone of his campaign, with the GOP nominee calling it a “job killer.”

The president acknowledges the anxiety over globalization, saying that it is “legitimate,” but warning that “if we don’t establish rules for how trade and commerce are conducted in the Asia-Pacific region, then China will.”

Proponents of the TPP say trade and globalization are the reason manufacturing in the U.S. is up by 40 percent in the last 20 years.

“American factories and American workers are making a greater volume of stuff than ever – high-tech, high-value products that are competitive in markets around the world,” writes Daniel Griswold in a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece.

“In the last 20 years, which include enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, real, inflation-adjusted U.S. manufacturing output has increased by almost 40 percent. Annual value added by U.S. factories has reached a record $2.4 trillion,” Griswold adds.

The real issue, Griswold contends, is that Americans produce more manufacturing value with fewer employees than in years past, “because today’s workers are so much more productive. They are better educated, equipped with more sophisticated capital machinery and turn out more valuable products than their parents’ generation.”

“Global trade has put some Americans out of work,” Griswold admits. “But the total numbers are small compared with the overall national job churn. Indeed, millions of U.S. jobs are eliminated each year by technology and changing consumer tastes, only to be replaced by new jobs that are being created by the same dynamic forces,” he adds.

But is the TPP necessary? In its analysis, The Heritage Foundation points out that the U.S. already has individual free trade agreements with six of the 11 TPP partners. Heritage concludes TPP will have an unknown impact on U.S. prosperity, individual and corporate freedom, labor, sovereignty and immigration.

“Reducing barriers to trade and investment with the remaining countries, including Japan, has potential benefits,” Heritage concludes, adding that “Congress must weigh such benefits against the aspects of the agreement that have the potential to reduce [U.S.] economic freedom.”

“The essence of a good trade agreement … is whether it makes it easier for individuals to engage in commercial transactions with people from other countries,” Heritage concludes. “Good trade agreements promote Americans’ individual sovereignty by making it difficult for governments to maintain special-interest barriers against trade and investment that promote the interests of a few by restricting the activities of others.”

As you consider the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its consequences, pray:

Dave Ficere is the News Editor for the Presidential Prayer Team and a freelance writer with an interest in politics and history. He lives in Phoenix, AZ.

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