White House Dismisses Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders on Trans-Pacific Trade Deal

AP Photo/Vincent Thian
AP Photo/Vincent Thian

President Barack Obama is not concerned that his Pacific free-trade deal will face more opposition in Congress, even after Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump won the parties’ primaries in Michigan, a White House spokesman claimed March 9.

“Mr. Trump certainly hasn’t articulated a specific proposal for how to counter the forces of globalization and ensure that middle-class Americans can compete and win in a 21st century global economy,” spokesman Josh Earnest said during the daily press briefing today.

“I just don’t think the results in Michigan tell us something that we didn’t already know about the public’s view of this, particularly in the state of Michigan,” Earnest said.

According to exit polls of Michigan, nearly 60 percent of voters said they believed free trade takes away jobs, while only 30 percent said it creates jobs. Both winning politicians were staunchly opposed to the deal, and both campaigned against it in the state.

But Earnest challenged Trump and other opponents of Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal to come up with a better idea to fix the consequences of globalization.

On the campaign trail, Trump frequently criticizes Obama’s trade deals with foreign countries and says China continues to take advantage of the United States.

Earnest also compared Trump and Sanders to the GOP’s House Freedom Caucus, and told reporters that Obama won a June 2015 debate over the Trade Promotion Authority bill in the House of Representatives, despite the caucus’ opposition to the legislation.

That TPA debate established debate rules which make it easier for the Congress to approve the pending TPP free-trade deal late this year or in 2017.

Now, even after the Michigan vote, Earnest claimed, there is “less of an obstacle” to get the TPP deal passed.