Public anger about corporate power dominant factor in views on trade & TPP

July 14, 2016


New polling for Public Citizen provides powerful new insights about the public’s views on the trade issue generally, the Trans-Pacific Partnership specifically, and one of TPP’s central components – Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). This unique survey of likely voters identifies key targets in the trade debate among Democrats, independents and Republicans and demonstrates how they can be moved to engage in the battle against TPP.

[Stan Greenberg and Nancy Zdunkewicz| July 13, 2016 | Democracy Corps

The public begins the debate over TPP from a mostly disengaged and uncommitted position, bordering on neutrality. The public rates past trade agreements more positively than not, though many are unsure and few hold strong opinions. Like with many other issues, partisans of each party look different: Republicans are very negative and Democrats much more positive.

That is likely exacerbated by the visible role of President Obama and demographic changes in both parties. And despite vocal opposition of major presidential candidates in both party primaries and the expectations of trade activists, the public begins almost evenly divided on the TPP, with many reporting they do not know enough to have an opinion and many still very unsure what to make of it.

In this period, the public very focused on and hostile to corporations and CEOs of big companies who take home huge pay packages, while failing to invest in their own companies or America. When trade arguments are married to the public’s anger with corporations and big money influence over government and politicians who no longer work for ordinary citizens, voters shift dramatically to oppose past trade pacts and the TPP. The public’s aversion to corporate control over government turns to revulsion towards TPP when they learn that corporate advisors shaped this agreement in secret negotiations so it includes expanded rights for foreign corporations to sue the American government for damages in front of three unaccountable corporate lawyers at the taxpayers’ expense.

ISDS concretizes corporate influence at the expense of the people. To be sure, the public is very concerned that TPP exposes Americans to other threats from corporations – from allowing more imports of unsafe food from foreign providers to the greater incentives for American companies to offshore jobs and reduce wages. But those arguments gain power within a message framework that condemns the backroom-dealing and new powers for corporations under ISDS.

When voters hear this message, they become far more critical of past trade agreements, shift dramatically from support to opposition on TPP, and become intent on holding political leaders accountable should they vote to pass the new trade agreement. This big shift occurs after voters are exposed to a balanced contest of messages and arguments from both sides of the TPP debate. The opposition message and arguments are just much stronger.

This poll also finds a clear winning message for members of Congress faced with a vote on TPP in the “lame duck” session after the election. Voters want to hear their member voice respect for President Obama’s intentions, but they also want them to join the presidential candidates, economists and colleagues on both sides of the aisle and stand up for the middle class by refusing to support this agreement.

Read more at Democracy Corps

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  • I’m so sick of the political correctness from both sides of the isle it makes me ill. Remember that if not for Trump we would not even be talking about any of this. The TPP would have been already been quietly passed by congress and senate and signed into law like many of the previous trade agreements were…Remember that the oligarchs pay people who pay other people to do their dirty work. They pit one minority group against the other in any way they can rather than us against them. We cannot afford the loss of our sovereignty as Americans and as a nation and must stand united in every way we can to win this critical fight.
  • Here’s the issue. As a Black (African-American) Baby-Boomer, I looked forward to growing up in a post-equal society. What I’ve seen in the past 45 years, is an income shift “away” from America by Corporations at America’s expense! More specifically, to keep inequality in its place. The inequality I speak of, is competition for jobs in a country once abundant with employment. I believe (in my opinion) that this was a deliberate attempt to keep Blacks poor and impoverished, not caring if Whites are also affected, as it was a small price to pay to see Blacks at the bottom of the financial rung of society. So here we are, after the invention of the Internet, and during the 1990s the wealth gap closed down to 7-to-1 in favor of whites when we reached the doorstep of the Millennium – almost half of what it was in the 1980s. Today, that partly wealth has been reversed to 21-to-1 deleting any gains we acquired years before. Now, Whites are caught up in the economic fray, conservatives blaming us for the Governmental Welfare debacle, but never admitting that they caused money to be reallocated to special interest and corporate interest at the expense of the middle-class, both Black and White. WE need to join forces and vote for incumbents who represent ALL the people, not corporations. Also notice, since the 1980s through today, CEOs salaries are 475x that of their employees, when outsourcing should’ve been illegal to begin with. As long as there is dissention among the races, America will continue this practices until we vote for policies that will put us first.