WASHINGTON – The White House is touting America’s auto industry as a highlight in the economy, with President Obama making a trip to Detroit in early January to showcase the growing numbers in auto manufacturing.
The White House calls it a once in a generation opportunity, but some Democratic lawmakers say it’s a bad deal: the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that could open up markets, and also possibly shut down the auto industry.
The comeback of the auto industry, it’s a big part of the American story. But underneath this bright spot lies a pending trade deal that one Democratic lawmaker says could crumble the auto industry’s recovery.
“My job is not to be loyal to a party or to the president but to the people who I work for. And I just don’t think that the TPP the way that it’s being negotiated is going to be good,” said Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI).
The United States and 11 other countries are currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership or (TPP). The White House says the deal will strengthen trade and investment relationships across the Asia-Pacific region, with countries like Japan and Vietnam.
“I’m very concerned, as are our auto industries,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
Stabenow sits on the Finance Committee where she talks international trade. She admits the trade deal could help some sectors of the economy like the agricultural industry, but says the trade deal isn’t worth the tradeoff.
“It’s easier to look at ag exports even though there are concerns ab fair trade with autos its more significant because you actually could see – we have seen plants close and go overseas. I think it’s complicated,” she says.
Her Senate colleague Gary Peters (D-MI) says it’s not tough being on the other side of the president – because taking a stand on TPP is all about protecting auto manufacturers across the country
“The president obviously pushing this forward..there is a disagreement that I have with him. I know that he would like to change the opinion of some auto manufacturers. But bottom line – this is about dollars and cents,” he says.
So how much control do lawmakers have? Ultimately Congress will get the chance to vote on the TPP. In this case – the Republican leadership is welcoming one of the president’s initiatives. And some Democrats say it’s going to be a challenge to recruit enough support to stop the TPP trade deal.