The Numbers Crunch: Pacific Trade Deal Is in Choppy Seas

President Obama backs the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but three remaining presidential candidates don’t

The Sacramento Bee
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The gigantic Pacific trade pact is looking like a political orphan, even as the latest numbers show what’s at stake for California. Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, calls the Trans-Pacific Partnership a “horrible deal” that will mostly help China. Sen. Bernie Sanders says it’s a job-killer and promises to spike it. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, once more of a free-trader, now opposes it as well.

While the U.S. signed the TPP in February with 11 other Pacific Rim nations after five years of negotiations, what would be the largest regional free-trade agreement ever won’t go into effect unless it’s ratified by 2018. For that to happen, both the U.S. and Japan need to approve it.

But getting it through Congress before he leaves office is going to be a lonely and uphill fight for President Barack Obama, who doesn’t have the backing of many fellow Democrats or many political chips left to use. The handicapping is that he won’t try until the lame-duck session after the November election, when members of Congress might be more inclined to cast a politically tough vote. But Clinton said recently she would object to that if she’s elected.

The fate of the Pacific trade deal means a lot to California, the second-highest exporting state in the nation and the world’s seventh-largest economy.

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