Of those who post here and probably most of our readers, I remain more attached to the general argument for free trade, which is the cause that the TP, now doing badly in the US Senate after the failure to stop debate on fast track authority for it. However, as Dean Baker has been pointing out from Day One, it is unclear if it is really a free trade agreement at all. I see three big problems with it, and one possible thing that might both improve it and help it pass.
The one that would help improve it would be add some serious assistance for laid off workers. It may be that the GOPsters simply will not support this, but this would probably get some Dems in the Senate to change their votes, and it is the right thing to do. I have been looking at the international data on Active Labor Management Policies, and the US simply has near zero. We are way behind all other high income nations on this. Those Nordic nations are very open, far more than we are, totally dependent on exports, and so very free trade, and they spend a lot on this, with Denmark spending 2.3% of its GDP on it. Sweden used to be tops, but they are down to 1.1%, making Denmark the "new Sweden." OTOH, the US is barely above zero, and if anything the TTP is supposed to cut the little we have. What is with this? This is really a no brainer. Help those who might lose out, and maybe it might be worth it.
Maybe. The next big problem with it is all the secrecy. We do not know what is in this, and the president and its supporters have gone out of their way to keep it secret. This is just insane. Senators can only look at it in a sealed room with no aides. What are they hiding? This just makes me lose pretty much all enthusiasm I might have for this. What were (are) they thinking. Just plain nuts. (BTW, I have read that Vietnam would be the big gaining country, which I have no problem with, but given all this secrecy, how is anybody supposed to know?)
Finally, there is the whole intellectual property rights part. Again, details are missing, but most reports suggest that enforcing US intellectual property rights abroad is a very big part of this, maybe the biggest, a point Dean B. has emphasized. But it is probably the case that we have overdone this already in the US. We are already paying way too much for drugs, and why on earth should Disney own the rights to Winnie the Pooh nearly a century after the books were written. We are supposed to support the imposition of this sort of rent seeking nonsense on the rest of the world too? My enthusiasm is nowhere at all on this part, quite the opposite. Dump this stuff.
Again, at the bottom line, given that we do not even know which industries in the US are most likely to be hurt by all those Vietnamese imports, it would behoove the supporters to do something to minimize the damage to those who might be injurned, the laid off workers. Put some decent support in their for those, and this thing might be worth passing, might.