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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/10/16

Democrats Must Fight to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership

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The Democratic National Committee is meeting this weekend in Orlando to mark up a platform laying out the views and aspirations of the party. Up to this point, we have made good progress in helping to create the most progressive Democratic Party platform ever. But more needs to be done.

One of the major amendments that will be debated during this meeting is to make it clear that the Democratic Party is against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and will oppose it coming to the floor of Congress during a lame-duck session. In my view, the trade deal would result in job losses in the United States, make the global race to the bottom even worse, harm the environment, undermine democracy and increase the price of prescription drugs for some of the poorest people in the world.

This should not be controversial. It is the exact same position that Secretary Clinton and I have taken during the campaign, and opposition to the TPP is the position of the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress.

One of the major reasons why the middle class has been in a 40-year decline: poverty has been increasing and the gap between the very rich and everyone else has been growing wider and wider due to our disastrous trade policies. You do not need a Ph.D. in economics to understand that our trade agreements have failed.

Over the last 35 years, our trade agreements have been rigged by corporate America to shut down manufacturing plants in the U.S., throw workers out on the street and move to Mexico, China and other low-wage countries where workers are paid a fraction of what they are paid in the U.S. The new proposal would continue these destructive policies that have hollowed out the middle class and led to the deindustrialization of inner cities and factory towns throughout this country.

Since 2001, nearly 60,000 manufacturing plants in this country have been closed and we have lost more than 4.8 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs. Not all of these lost factories and jobs are due to our trade policies, but many of them are.

Over and over again, supporters of free trade have told us that unfettered free trade would increase jobs and reduce the trade deficit. Over and over again, they have been proven dead wrong.

In 1993, during the debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement, the establishment promised us that this trade deal with Mexico and Canada would create a million jobs over a five-year period. Instead, the Economic Policy Institute found that NAFTA has led to the loss of 850,000 jobs. NAFTA turned a small trade surplus with Mexico into an annual trade deficit of $60 billion.

Six years later, we were told that Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China would create a thriving middle class in China that would purchase a plethora of American-made goods and products. We were promised that this trade deal was not NAFTA. This trade deal would be much better. As a matter of fact, we were told that it would be "a hundred-to-nothing deal for America when it comes to the economic consequences."

Instead, it led to the loss of 3.2 million jobs as American workers have been forced to compete with some of the most desperate workers in the world. Since this trade deal was enacted, our annual trade deficit with China has ballooned from $83 billion to more than $365 billion.

In 2009, we were promised that the South Korea Free Trade Agreement would create at least 70,000 jobs and reduce the trade deficit. Instead, since it has gone into effect, we have lost over 100,000 jobs to South Korea and our trade deficit with that country has gone up by about 115 percent.

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Bernie Sanders is the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. He is a member of the Senate's Budget, Veterans, Environment, Energy, and H.E.L.P. (Health, Education, (more...)

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