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Joe Biden Won’t Say If He Supports the TPP Trade Deal

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Some of the 2020 candidates who opposed TPA similarly parsed the issue, saying they’d support TPP if TPP were improved. Ohio Representative Tim Ryan, who aims to be the voice of the often-overlooked industrial Midwest in the campaign, believes the United States needs to “make inroads” with Pacific countries to counter China, said his campaign spokesman Michael Zetts. But while he “was a vocal opponent” of TPP, he “would look at rejoining the agreement if we could secure increased labor standards, stronger environmental protections, and better human rights protections.”

Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton, who also voted against TPA, said he wants a deal with higher standards than TPP. But “by simply abandoning TPP with no alternative—which is what a lot of people are talking about doing and certainly what Trump has done—means that China sets the rules of the road,” he said at a campaign-stop interview in South Carolina last weekend. “And that is wrong.” California Representative Eric Swalwell, another TPA opponent, was also short on specifics about what to do next: “Let’s get a better deal,” he said in a statement provided over email. “I’m open to any trade deal that means more good-paying jobs for U.S. workers.”

Similarly seeking to improve TPP is former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. A spokesperson said he’d want to renegotiate the agreement to give “trade-impacted workers and areas” extra help. “He recognizes the value of global engagement and our partnerships with our Pacific trade partners,” the spokesperson said. “But he would seek to negotiate a TPP that includes stronger provisions for workers and the environment.”

Warren and Sanders aren’t the only senators opposed to TPP. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker stands by his opposition to TPA and TPP, said press secretary Sabrina Singh. “It put large corporations before workers, and would have led to the decline of U.S. manufacturing,” Singh said. According to a spokesperson, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who also voted against TPA and opposed TPP, “believes U.S. participation in any trade agreement needs to have a real strategy behind it.” It “must hold bad actors accountable, promote fair trade, protect American workers and the environment, and deliver real economic growth to middle-class families,” the spokesperson explained.

Other candidates weren’t in Congress for the TPA vote, and some may not have taken a position on TPP until now. California Senator Kamala Harris opposed TPP when she campaigned for the Senate in 2016, “pointing to its lack of worker protections,” said press secretary Ian Sams, adding that she wouldn’t join the agreement as president. In an interview last week in South Carolina, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “TPP was a huge mistake, and it was a giveaway to corporations, and we need an entirely different approach to fair trade.” What does that mean? “Total emphasis on standards for working people in all the affected countries—wage and benefits standards, labor conditions, strong environmental standards.” And it “especially has to not be something that explicitly empowers corporations over governments that are supposed to have the back of the people,” de Blasio added.

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