Why the TPP Is a Terrible Deal for Most Americans – Rep. John Conyers

Earlier this year, former Florida governor Jeb Bush travelled to my hometown of Detroit to explain his political philosophy. In a speech before local business leaders, Bush argued that the aim of government should be to promote “economic growth above all.”

“If a law or a rule doesn’t contribute to growth,” he asked, “why do it?” If a law subtracts from growth, why are we discussing it?”

The younger Bush brother is in good company. For the better part of a century, economic growth—as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—has been the single most important guidepost for government decision-making. Nowhere is this clearer than in the current debate raging in Washington over the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, wherein the deal’s proponents from the Chamber of Commerce to the Treasury Department routinely reach for their trump card: “Trade is good for economic growth.”

There’s just one problem with this line of thinking. Economic growth—our raw output of goods and services—is a questionable measure of our success or well-being as a nation. Growth, in some cases, runs counter to priorities that matter deeply to our people. As a short-term measure of national production, GDP often tends to increase as rates of crime, pollution, and household debt rise. Both Hurricane Sandy and the BP Deepwater Horizondisaster arguably boosted economic growth because of the activity associated with cleanup and rebuilding.