As the US Senate passes a bill allowing for fast tract authority on the controversial trade deal titled the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), Ohio finds itself, once again, on the brink of possibly damaging economic consequences. The TPP is a free trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim nations and is said to offer opportunities for economic growth in America and strategic leadership in Asia.
Republicans like Rob Portman hope to force the deal through to the President’s desk this week but have failed to mention its possible harmful ramifications for states like Ohio. Instead, Mr. Portman chooses to focus on campaign donations from pro-trade lobbies. Preceding the May 23rd vote to fast track TPP, Senator Portman claimed almost $120,000 in campaign donations from the US Business Coalition for TPP.
One only need to look back at the consequences of past free trade agreements to realize that the damage that future deals could cause for Ohio and America’s hard working middle class families far supersedes collections of campaign financing.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), for example, played a significant part in the loss of 323,308 manufacturing jobs in Ohio and nearly 5 million manufacturing jobs nationally. Furthermore, private sector manufacturing jobs in Ohio have declined from 23.4 percent to 14.9 percent in the NAFTA era.
Remaining manufacturing jobs and other similar paying positions were subject to trends of wage suppression. A report from the Economic Policy Institute suggests that increased free trade from NAFTA like deals has suppressed the wages of non-college educated workers around $1,800. Free trade has similar effects on small family farms with 12,000 small-scale farms going out of business since NAFTA’s implementation.
Consequences such as these cannot be ignored and our representatives in Washington D.C. must strive to acquire a better deal for middle class Americans.
While we can’t avoid international trade and the modern global economy, representatives like Mr. Portman must work harder to negotiate trade deals that do not crush middle class Americans instead of working to please pro-trade campaign donors. We therefore encourage Mr. Portman to revoke his support for the TPP and consider the ramifications of increased free trade on middle class America.