Have you read the half-hearted TPP endorsement from the New York TImes?

Posted by mmcmullan on 11/07/2013

The New York Times ran an editorial about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the other day.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Haters gonna hate. Still, it reads like some poor scribe without a dog in the fight got told to stake out the Grey Lady’s position on the trade deal, because what it came up with is a big ol’ nothingburger about how “negotiators are grappling with many difficult issues.” Dare say!

To wit:

A good agreement would lower duties and trade barriers on most products and services, strengthen labor and environmental protections, limit the ability of governments to tilt the playing field in favor of state-owned firms and balance the interests of consumers and creators of intellectual property. Such a deal will not only help individual countries but set an example for global trade talks.

Dang. That’s some strong tea.

All of those things would be nice. But (there’s always a but) as the details of the agreement remain largely out of the public forum -- and bits and pieces of it are only slowly leaking to the media -- it’s impossible to say if the TPP contains the ingredients for a good deal that the Times lays out. So, what? Is there anything else that the Times wants to add?

Yes: While the editorial gives a few nods to the concerns of some of the TPP’s critics (like its own: the dangers of unregulated tobacco!) it managed to not mention criticism from a major American industry and a majority of the legislative branch of our government about the absence of a rule that punishes currency manipulation.

Will those concerns be addressed in the agreement? House members pressed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and US Trade Rep Michael Froman for an answer during a closed-door meeting back in September:

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said the administration officials agreed that currency manipulation was a serious concern but made no specific commitment to deal with it in the Pacific trade deal talks.

’They didn’t say anything except, ‘We’re very, very interested, [and] we have to work together,’’ Rangel reported.

Yeah, that means “no.”

Here’s something that didn’t make it onto the New York Times’ List of Ingredients for a Good Trade Agreement: It must help to rebalance trade. As Dean Baker and Jared Bernstein point out in an opinion in the Times’ own pages today, the U.S. has run a trade deficit every year since 1976. And during that time, middle-income manufacturing employment has disappeared from the country, only to be replaced by McJobs.

Giving countries that manipulate their currency (so that their own industries can increase sales at the expense of American businesses) more access to the American market is a bad idea. And an editorial from the world’s most influential newspaper that casually promotes a deeply flawed trade agreement is not appreciated.

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