The TPP Could Destroy the American Middle Class


The American middle class has been decimated by decades of policies that put the interests of a few wealthy individuals above the best interests of America as a whole. NAFTA, CAFTA, KORUS, the WTO— these agreements have all served to enrich a few individuals who gain wealth by importing cheap goods into the United States. Meanwhile we have seen our good, middle-class jobs shipped overseas to countries with wage rates often below $4 per hour.

These trade agreements have ensured manufacturers can build their products cheaply overseas and ship them back to the United States while paying the lowest possible tariffs and duties, which is often none at all. Now the United States is moving forward with a disastrous, misguided agreement that would expand this sort of arrangement to even more low-wage countries: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This agreement would put countries like Brunei and Vietnam on the same playing field as the United States, despite their lower wages and low environmental and labor standards.

The American middle class has suffered enough from these job-killing conditions foisted upon us by our so-called representatives in Washington. We have seen our factories close, our jobs disappear, and our tax base shrink, leaving us with inadequate public services and infrastructure. This has made America nearly unrecognizable, and the TPP could be the final nail in our economy’s coffin.

We have been fallaciously told that as we trade with low-wage nations, their wages will rise up to meet ours. This really means our wages will be pulled down, however. By expanding trade with these low-wage nations, we will pull our wages down even further. Our politicians in Washington do not seem content with giving the outsourcers a few places to make cheap goods. Instead they are continually looking for additional inexpensive places to manufacture. When will this race to the bottom end?

It is difficult to stop the drive towards agreements like the TPP because those who profit from these agreements have grown so rich and powerful they essentially own our government. They threaten our politicians with costly and ugly campaigns for reelection if they dare to vote against the special interests. If these politicians care about keeping their seats–and they do–they feel forced to vote for these agreements.

We need to wrest our government back from these special interests through a Constitutional amendment that overturns the Supreme Court’s misguided Citizens United and McCutcheon vs FEC rulings. We need public financing for elections so we can ensure the public is the beneficiary of our laws and policies. Until we get money out of politics, politics will only work for those with money.

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