WASHINGTON — Sitting next to Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Michael Bloomberg at the White House today, President Obama declared that anyone “frustrated about jobs being shipped overseas” needs to embrace the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The TPP, a trade deal that includes the United States, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru, has not been ratified by Congress. Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) lured working-class followers with TPP opposition. Politifact ruled Hillary Clinton has done a full flop on the issue.
Kasich announced Thursday he was heading to Washington to push for free trade despite the trend in the GOP.
“Free trade is not only a powerful driver of job creation for Americans but it’s also a national security issue. There’s no better tool for America to encourage other nations to embrace freedom and equality than healthy trade relationships,” the governor said in an email to supporters.
“As you know, I don’t agree with many of President Obama’s economic priorities but I do feel strongly that supporting free trade is critical to strengthening the American economy,” Kasich added.
Obama called his partners for the trade discussion an “outstanding bipartisan group.”
He called Asia “an area where we have the potential to sell American goods, promote American business, and help American workers, because we know that export industries tend to pay higher wages and are oftentimes some of the most successful companies in the world.”
“And precisely because 95 percent of our markets are outside of the United States, and because for us to succeed in this increasingly integrated economy, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got a level playing field and that American workers and American businesses are able to compete fairly,” he added.
The president said the TPP is “the most progressive, effective trade deal that we’ve ever seen.”
“And this bipartisan group made up of business leaders, mayors, governors, Republicans, Democrats, national security leaders and military leaders — the reason they’re here is because they know this is important for our economy and they know that this is important for our national security and our standing in the world,” Obama said. “Right now, China is pushing hard to create their own trading regime out in Asia. And I promise you that China is not going to be setting up a bunch of rules that are going to be to the advantage of American companies and American businesses. If we are not in there and making sure that fair trade is established in the Asia market we’re going to be cut out.”
“And I know that the politics these days tends to look at trade as something that is negative. But if you talk to the farmers and the ranchers and the manufacturers and the service industries that are dependent on us selling American exports around the world, they will tell you we’ve got to get this done.”
Trump told Fox Business Network today that “I love trade” but a deal like TPP is “too complicated.”
“TPP is a disaster for many reasons, and that’s one of them, the perplexity. You know it’s 5,000 pages long. And I guarantee you, there probably aren’t two people in our country that read it. We don’t know,” Trump said. “And the other countries, they’ve read every word, every paragraph, ever comma and it — believe me, it’s good for others. It’s not good for us and it’s not good for our workers.”
Obama said his bipartisan group would “strategizing about how we can get the message out,” as “there’s so much misinformation floating around on this.”
“If you’re frustrated about rules of trade that disadvantage America, if you’re frustrated about jobs being shipped overseas and other countries selling goods into our country freely when we can’t sell our stuff into other countries freely, then you want to get this thing passed. You want to get this thing done,” the president said.
“And I thought it was important for people, even though we’re in an election season, to know that this is not something I’m letting up on. I don’t have any more elections to run, and the reason that I’m pushing this so hard is because I know, and other countries know and China know that if we get this done, advantage America. And if we don’t, then we’re going to be disadvantaged for a long time to come.”
Obama was asked at the end of his remarks about the Trump campaign’s admission that Obama was born in America.
“I’m shocked that a question like that would come up at a time when we’ve got so many other things to do. Well, I’m not that shocked, actually. It’s fairly typical,” the president replied. “We got other business to attend to. I was pretty confident about where I was born. I think most people were, as well. And my hope would be that the presidential election reflects more serious issues than that.”