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It's sort of a tiring exercise. Each time some so-called "free trade" deal comes up, the president at the time (read: Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama) trots out a whole series of phony arguments to make the case for a very bad agreement--bad if you are anything but a corporation. You have to willfully ignore past evidence to swallow the same old tired arguments used to ram through these crappy agreements. But, let's celebrate an anniversary here to trumpet the collapse of any plausible argument being used to sell the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Bring out the confetti, streamers and horns: it's the second anniversary of the South Korean Free Trade Agreement. Don't remember that one, huh? No bother because all the same arguments being used to sell that putrid TPP will be familiar: the president promised the deal with Korea would expand U.S. exports and create U.S. jobs.

Courtesy of the president's minions at the United States Trade Representative's office comes this Chamber of Commerce-sounding P.R. regarding the South Korea agreement:

This agreement will create new opportunities for significantly more exports creating additional jobs for American workers in sectors ranging from delivery services to education and health care services, too.
With the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) estimating that the tariff cuts alone in the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement will increase exports of American goods by $10 billion to $11 billion, advancing this agreement will secure the tens of thousands of American jobs supported by those exports – as well as the additional American jobs that will come from by breaking down non-tariff barriers keeping U.S. exports out of South Korea, and by requiring stronger protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in South Korea.
Uh-oh. Bullshit. Here is what really has happened, courtesy of a new report by Public Citizen:
· U.S. goods exports to Korea have fallen below the pre-FTA average monthly level for 21 out of 22 months since the deal took effect.

·  The United States has lost an average of $385 million each month in exports to Korea, given an 11 percent decline in the average monthly export level in comparison to the year before the deal.

·  The United States lost an estimated, cumulative $9.2 billion in exports to Korea under the FTA’s first two years, compared with the exports that would have been achieved at the pre-FTA level.

·  Average monthly exports of U.S. agricultural products to Korea have fallen 41 percent.

·  The average monthly U.S. automotive trade deficit with Korea has grown 19 percent.

By its calculation, using the White House's own "calculator", Public Citizen estimates that the "drop in net U.S. exports to Korea in the FTA’s first two years represents the loss of more than 46,600 U.S. jobs." [my emphasis]

Just in the auto parts area alone, the report tells us that:

The administration also promised the Korea FTA would bring “more job-creating export opportunities in a more open and fair Korean market for America’s auto companies and auto workers,” while a special safeguard would “ensure… that the American industry does not suffer from harmful surges in Korean auto imports due to this agreement.”  The U.S. average monthly automotive exports to Korea under the FTA have been $12 million higher than the pre-FTA monthly average, but the average monthly automotive imports from Korea have soared by $263 million under the deal – a 19 percent increase. So while U.S. auto exports have risen very modestly under the FTA, those tiny gains have been swamped by a surge in auto imports from Korea that the administration promised would not occur under the FTA.

·       In January 2014, monthly auto imports from Korea topped $2 billion for the first time on record.

·       About 125,000 more Korean-produced Hyundais and Kias were imported and sold in the United States in 2013 (after the FTA) than in 2011 (before the FTA).

·       Sales of U.S.-produced Fords, Chryslers and Cadillacs in Korea increased by just 3,400 vehicles.[emphasis added]

Most of the nonsense about the Korean FTA was obvious (and I wrote an open letter to the president of the UAW when the union chose to support the deal)

Now, in fairness, the false promises made by this president are not a new phenomena. In the same way that the TPP is just another mutant offspring of NAFTA, so, too, the series of TPP marketing promises rolled out by this White House are a continuation of the NAFTA-era promises made by the first President Bush and pushed forward enthusiastically by Bill Clinton and Robert Reich (yes, those of you who have blindly bought the quick, sweep-under-the-rug, ideological Reich makeover--that would be makeover number who knows--might want to actually consider that history).

They were false back then and are false now. And in the same way that people and organizations like Public Citizen exposed the lies about NAFTA (I use the word "lies" here because some of the bogus claims were so outlandish that they had to be just plain lies) but were dismissed as "protectionists" who were afraid to embrace the wondrous future promised by a great global era of trade, so, too, the people who are exposing the nonsense and danger of the TPP are being branded as anti-trade.

Expert there is a difference today.

The evidence of 20 years of bullshit evidence is just too broad and too deep. Many Democrats have already told the president the TPP is dead on arrival in its current form. A large number members of Congress is refusing to give the president "fast track" authority(the power to ram through trade agreements with no amendments allowed).

The truth is no form of the TPP is "good." The entire framework of so-called "free trade" is entirely about empowering corporations and protecting corporate rights.

Crash, kaboom...Mr. President, try some other arguments for TPP because the current ones are just a heap of marketing wreckage, smoldering at the feet of a pretty immovable fortress of facts.

3:44 PM PT: Uh, I feel like I have parachuted into the middle of a family feud during holiday time...a huge chunk of the comments are a point-counter point with TomP in the firing line. Can we just tamp down the hostility a tad, comrades (to use what might seem a Marxist term to some)? Perhaps because I haven't been privy to past debates, I suspect there is an on-going disagreement here between the "Obama isn't all bad" versus "Obama is a hopeless tool".  I get that. Just a bit less nastiness, if possible, comrades. Thanks.

Originally posted to Tasini on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 07:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Houston Area Kossacks.

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