I stole the title from jamess because as this moves forward, that last part after the hyphen will be filled with different possibilities. So thanks, jamess, for the great title:)
Like others, I got a non-letter from my Dem Senator (CA-Feinstein) regarding her thoughts on the TPP, in general. I also called her office after the cloture vote (previously held up by dems until many dems, Feinstein among them, voted FOR cloture) to register my disagreement and disgust. I didn't know much about the details about what was in/related to the bill at the time.
What we do know is that workers will, similar to NAFTA, be displaced and now we know that the TAA (Trade Adjustment Assistance), a program to retrain workers whose jobs dissolve because of the TPP, will be paid for by cuts to Medicare.
I mention TAA here because Feinstein's office stated that TAA inclusion (and note that TAA has existed since 1962 but was only implemented since 1974) was one of the reasons that she ended up voting for cloture. Now that I know more about TAA, the reasoning here, then, as stated by her staff, is as disingenuous as it gets. [Note I am self-correcting here; see Update 2 at the bottom of this diary. Nonetheless, however, this is a ridiculous reason for supporting cloture. Obviously, she understands there will be more job losses]. I know what it says to me about her real interests and concerns. In fairness to Feinstein, however, I should note that she did not vote for NAFTA. Who knows her reasons for that vote.
Follow me over the orange trade deficit.
First, let's get some things out of the way. If this subject interests you, you might want to fully explore data for your state, county or even company if listed.
Jobs loss data relative to NAFTA/WTO are collected by the Labor Department and include those related to the TAA retraining program. These job loss numbers were collected and put into a clickable state map by Public Citizen. Here is Public Citizen's writing on California and note that if you live in a manufacturing state such as Ohio, the percentages are worse:
California lost 432,517 manufacturing jobs (or 25.7 percent) during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2014), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.* This figure is for total manufacturing employment, so it takes into account both jobs created by exports and jobs displaced by imports, among other causes of net job change. The percentage of all private sector jobs that are manufacturing jobs in California declined from 16.2 percent to 9.4 percent during the NAFTA-WTO period.
Specifically, TAA data was compiled
by state and can be found by filling in the state name. Please read the note on this table. There is a FAQ
on Public Citizen's site regarding data interpretation and other information related to the TAA data. Public Citizen makes clear that the TAA program is difficult to quantify and that only about 10% of seemingly qualified persons entered the TAA progam (for a variety of reasons).
The TAA is hardly an adequate measure of individual pain relative to job loss. First of all, a 50 year-old will generally not retrain into a new job (if training is possible for them at all) at the same pay level. So the trade-related job loss there cost them real money despite assistance (similar to unemployment, an we know how well that went after 2008) and assistance for this group is also different:
If a worker is over age 50, he/she may apply for the Alternative TAA
(ATAA) program instead of TAA. ATAA is a wage insurance program that subsidizes 50% of the difference between the pre-layoff wage rate and the wage rate in the new job, up to $10,000 a year for two years, in case where the worker obtains reemployment no later than 26 weeks from the date of qualifying separation. ATAA was added by the 2002 Reform Act. [Source (caution PDF) here, p. 6.].
It may also have required relocation to train and/or work. Some of those costs were covered, but certainly not all, leaving workers with yet another cost not to mention the difficulty in moving from their life-long communities and, in some cases, family members that needed care assistance. I could not have moved had I been in this situation due to my mother's health care status. She had no one but me to care for her given our lousy elder care system in the U.S.
There's also the issue of matching training to available jobs (which results in a higher wages). This chart on page 33 of this study shows that the average resulting wage rates were lower than the average wage rates prior to job loss.
Here, for instance, is a blurb on the assistance program in Texas.
Those that did not qualify for the strict TAA programs were just out of luck, set free--including during a terrible recession--when jobs were hardly available and ultimately without income when unemployment renewal was refused by Congress.
I emphasize these points because they MATTER. Many people cannot simply pick up and move, and older people have a much harder time retraining and securing necessary income as the above cited study shows. Some of these workers are no doubt now on Social Security/Medicare assuming they managed to stay in one piece long enough to collect, perhaps, a lesser sum than they would have had they been able to finish out their working life.
There should be no debate, here, about the GOP's drive to disassemble our Social Secuirity and Medicare programs. It's not hidden and it's just not debatable. And now that goal is being lumped into the TPP. This is the continued destruction of a social program, Medicare, by a thousand cuts... quite literally.
The Healthcare Industry Opposes Medicare Cuts in TPP House Bill
So now comes the TPP with Medicare cuts. On 21 April, Peter Sullivan at The Hill wrote:
The healthcare providers object to the TAA bill including a 0.25 percent cut in Medicare payments in fiscal year 2024, which amounts to a $700 million cut, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
is a American Hospital Associations bulletin on the matter which includes a link to the actualy letter.
The TPP Will Increase Healthcare Costs
Public Citizen offers an excellent overview of pharma-related protections that may occur under the TPP, here [caution PDF]
Among the potential impacts are:
--Halting reductions in pharmaceuticals pricing
--Further limiting the ability of the U.S. governmen, and states, to lower pharmaceuticals costs
--Giving more monopoly protection to big pharma
The Bottom Line
The TPP will cause job losses. Studies show that job losses in the past have resulted in lower future wages, on average, even with retraining and matching, in the future at a time when wages are already stagnant and inadequate. This is particularly true with individuals 51 and older.
Those that leave the job market for early retirement (longer tenure also being the case) will face additional healthcare (if not 65) or medicare costs as a result of the TPP given increases in drug and other health-related costs.
Those in insurance programs, regardless of age, will also face increased healthcare costs given protections for pharma and other health-related industries.
Hospitals, physicians and others face medicare payment decreases which may effect both the quality of care and availability of care under TPP. This effects everyone, potentially, whether on medicare or covered by a health insurance program.
THIS is just another reason why contacting your Senate member immediately and House member, regardless of party, is so important. It is also a reason--particularly in states that have larger manufacturing bases--for people to contact their representatives to protect their jobs, keep their healthcare costs from inflating and for seniors who cannot afford increased medical costs on stagnant and inadequate social security level payments.
There is NO question that the TPP will just funnel even more money to the top wage earners while taking from what is left of the middle class and increasing the weight on the poor.
This is failed social policy, bad trade policy and a disaster for all of us.
UPDATE #1: There are two additional diaries on this right now on this on the list and the discussions are as good as the diaries (all good!).
UPDATE #2: The TAA is set to expire in September of this year. You can read more about that on Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown's site, here. The reason I include this is because this is surely what Feinstein's office was referring to, and I stand corrected on this point. I should further note that the conservative Heritage Foundation does not support any extension of the program and opposes it. I won't link to them, but you can find it via Google.