Published on Feb 3, 2016
Indeed, all the highest-profile candidates for president—Ted Cruz and Donald Trump on the right and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the left— have publicly opposed TPP. While such promises may not amount to much—then-candidate Barack Obama vowed to oppose trade deals in the mold of TPP when he ran for office in 2008—they complicate prospects for approval in Congress. This administration readily acknowledges that TPP is not a slam dunk on Capitol Hill. And by the time the next administration takes over—even if Obama’s successor reverses course and endorses the pact—public support for TPP may sink even lower, and other countries may pull out or force a renegotiation.
In fact, the argument for ratification is getting steadily weaker. The first two economic analyses of the agreement, which the administration wants to use to bolster its case, drew fire as misleading and incomplete. The first, from the World Bank, looked only at the economic gains from exports, with no mention of potential harms. This is like determining the outcome of a baseball game by only looking at one team’s score. And even from that one-sided perspective, the U.S. gains were tiny—just 0.4 percent of GDP by 2030, the lowest of any party to the agreement. The World Bank report also measured only cumulative GDP gain by 2030—a model that’s calculated to bring back what sounds like a big number, but that papers over TPP’s much smaller impact when measured annually.
Another study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) employed the same trick, projecting only cumulative U.S. gains by 2030. Under that rosy scenario, the PIIE study promises $131 billion in increases to real incomes over the next 15 years. But as economist Dean Baker points out, “The projections imply that, as a result of the TPP, the country will be as rich on January 1, 2030 as it would otherwise be on April 1, 2030.”