US President Barack Obama met on Tuesday with Singaporian Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an international trade deal which Obama wants to implement to strengthen the US economy and her global allies.
However, much of the public is concerned that a global economy, with its low wages, will drive them to bottom-of-the-barrel jobs or unemployment. The Democratic National Convention was flooded with protesters calling for no deal. Senator Bernie Sanders urged presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to denounce the deal.
“If you believe that we should say ‘no’ to unfair trade deals; that we should stand up to China; that we should support our steelworkers and autoworkers and homegrown manufacturers, join us,” Sanders called to his supporters.
At the press conference on Tuesday in the White House, an earnest reporter quizzed Obama on his plans for the TPP, considering that "Hillary Clinton is against it, her vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine has reversed himself, and is now against it, Donald Trump is too, meaning that the next president is opposed to this deal." The reporter went on to ask how Obama intends to pass the deal, when Congress has been shooting down proposals right and left?
Obama, for his part, rejected the value of the mentioned opinions, "Well right now I'm President, and I'm for it, and I think I have got the better argument," he began.
"We are part of a global economy. We're not reversing that. It can't be reversed. Because it is driven by technology, and it is driven by travel, and cargo containers, and the fact that the demand for products inside of our country means that we gotta get some things from other places," he explained.
"Most manufactured products now involve a global supply chain where parts are made in all corners of the globe, and converge, and then get assembled, and packaged, and sold...the notion that we're gonna pull that up, root and branch, is unrealistic."
The president said that while he sympathized with the concerns of TPP opponents, cutting off globalization will not help the United States economy in the long run.
“I respect the arguments that they’re making. They’re coming from a sincere concern about the position of workers and wages in this country. But I think I’ve got the better argument."
Obama also aired a suspicion that, as many elected officials are facing political races now, they'll be singing a less populist tune when the elections are over.
“Hopefully after the election is over and the dust settles there will be more attention to the actual facts behind the deal and it won’t just be be a political symbol or a political football,” he said.