Barack Obama might come to regretbranding the Trans-Pacific Partnership as “the most progressive trade deal in history.” A meaningless distinction from inception (the WTO and NAFTA set low benchmarks), Congressional Dems disputed the talking point in 2015 to devastating effect. As a result of their prodding from the left, the TPP looks far more in doubt than it ought to at this stage.
While many Dems on Capitol Hill can claim credit for this development, few are as deserving of it as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). In the Spring, as Congress debated a must-pass procedure – Trade Promotion Authority, or the “fast-track” bill – Brown filed 88 amendments; one for every county in his Rust Belt State. Some were decried as “poison pills” by the administration. The senator did not dispute the characterization.
In June, he fumed from the Senate floor that the TPP might impact laws aimed at curbing smoking, but that Congress didn’t even know if this was even the case. While it was being hammered out, negotiating parties kept the working text under tight lock-and-key; a routine source of grievance among Democratic Caucus members. “Even something this clearly violative of the public interest and of public health as the damage big tobacco inflicts on children – even that is not, to our knowledge being addressed,” Brown said.