Isn't politics just great? Politicians aren't exactly known for their honesty on things, often saying things to voters just to get elected. But Hillary Clinton's views on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement have received quite a lot of scrutiny. After all, while she was at the State Department, she was a strong supporter of the TPP, and so it was a bit of a surprise last October when she came out against it. Of course, the fact that the deal is fairly unpopular with the Democratic Party base probably contributed quite a lot to that decision -- and Clinton's weak attempt at revisionist history to pretend she never really supported it.
[Mike Masnick| February, 01 2016 | Tech Dirt]
But, of course, when you do a pandering flip flop like that just to get votes, you have to remember that plenty of people will see right through it, and some of those people might reveal the strategy. Like, for instance, the head of the US Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest lobbying organization, who is leading the charge in support of the TPP. Its top lobbyist, Tom Donohue, flat out admitted recently that he knows that if she actually got elected, she'll revert back to supporting the TPP, because of course she will:
The Chamber president said he expected Hillary Clinton would ultimately support the TPP if she becomes the Democratic nominee for president and is elected. He argued that she has publicly opposed the deal chiefly because her main challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), has also done so. "If she were to get nominated, if she were to be elected, I have a hunch that what runs in the family is you get a little practical if you ever get the job," he said.
The same report notes that Congress is now likely to wait until after the election, but before the new Congress starts (i.e., the "lame duck" session) to vote to ratify the TPP in order to keep it from impacting the Presidential election:
Donohue also said TPP will not be voted on prior to the election because Senate Republicans do not want to do anything that could jeopardize Republican Senators in close races. But he said he believed there was a 75 percent chance that TPP would get done in the lame-duck session after the election.
This very likely is the strategy that the Chamber has cooked up and which Congress thinks makes sense, but, really, doesn't it just highlight how bad the TPP really is? If Congress can't convince the public that it's worth voting for when everyone's actually watching, then doesn't that suggest a really serious issue with the agreement itself? In many ways, this seems like an extension of the former USTR's defense of the secrecy around the TPP, where he admitted that if the public actually knew what was going into the TPP it would stop it from ever getting approved. So his decision was to hide it. And now, it seems likely that plenty of politicians are basically doing the same -- hide the TPP until the public isn't looking or can't really do anything, and then shove it through.