Dr. Ben Carson is signaling he may be open to supporting Obamatrade’s Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Carson’s comments, his first on the deal, came during an appearance on Breitbart News Daily on Sirius XM Patriot Channel 125 with Stephen K. Bannon on Tuesday.
“It’s always open for discussion but I’m an advocate for free trade,” Carson said.
There are things in the TPP I’m not enthusiastic about, certainly [including] disputes that are supposed to be looked at by, you know, a UN commission or a World Trade Organization. I don’t like to subject anything in America to outside forces that might be able to impact our laws. That’s a caveat. And I have to be assured that they don’t have influence over us. But, I think overall it helps to level the playing field. I think there are those that say “no, no, no, we don’t want it.”
But the problem is when we begin to slap tariffs on things and get into these trade wars, who has to pay for that? It’s the guy who goes to Walmart and Target. He’s the one who gets slammed by that. So we have to be looking at things that will help the middle class and the poor to once again be able to have some buying power. This would help them—there’s no question about that. So, I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water. Would I prefer to negotiate a better trade agreement? Absolutely. If this is the best we can get, I would take it rather than allow the people of the country to be suffering further economically.
This is the first time Carson himself has weighed in on the deal, and comes after his spokesman Doug Watts previously told the Wall Street Journal he was open to it.
Watts told the WSJ the day after President Barack Obama’s White House released the 5,544-page, 100-pound, several-feet-high-when-printed-out trade deal that Carson “believes the agreement does help to level the playing field in key markets and is important to improve our ties to trading partners in Asia as a counterbalance to China’s influence in the region.”
Carson’s openness to the deal—he still hasn’t thrown his full weight in favor of it—is likely to be particularly controversial and troubling for him.
Carson previously had come out against Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the mechanism Congress passed earlier in the year which greases the skids for TPP and other trade deals to be considered more quickly in Congress without amendments and with no ability to filibuster.
“Free trade is a good thing, there’s no question about that—you look at a country like Chile that was really off in the woods economically and you look at what they’ve done with their trade policies and where they are now—but it needs to be done the proper way,” Carson said in a previous exclusive interview with Breitbart News at the South Carolina Freedom Summit in Greenville, South Carolina, earlier in the year.
We’ve seen what happens when you try to rush something through without having adequate oversight. We need to recognize that whether it’s good or whether it’s bad, we need to be able to have a complete discussion. That’s why our government was set up the way that it is. So, I’m all for a trade deal and for free trade and for the benefits of that, but let’s get the right input so we put the right things in it so we all benefit and it’s done the right way.
Now that Carson’s on the other side of the divisive issue which separates populists from elitists—polling shows that overwhelming majorities of Americans don’t support trade deals like these—it creates a massive opening for someone like billionaire businessman Donald Trump in this evening’s debate here in Milwaukee. Trump has steadfastly opposed these trade deals as efforts by global elite to ship American jobs overseas, and has consistently and repeatedly hammered the point home.
“The deal is insanity,” Trump told Breitbart News on Monday. “That deal should not be supported and it should not be allowed to happen.”
Trump also said the only people supporting the deal are doing so because they are “controlled” by lobbyists.
“The only people that are supporting it politically are people that are controlled by the lobbyists for certain companies that want this to happen because it’s to their advantage, not to the country’s advantage,” Trump said. “So the lobbyists and the special interests are supporting it, and certain politicians are supporting it because they’re totally controlled by the lobbyists and the special interests.”
It remains to be seen if TPP will come up in the Fox Business Network debate here on Tuesday. The topic has not come up in any questioning in the first three GOP debates.