U.S. Senate hopefuls on TPP: 3 opposed, 1 in favor, Michael Bennet undecided

U.S. Senate hopefuls on TPP: 3 opposed, 1 in favor, Michael Bennet undecided

 

GRAND JUNCTION, CO — Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is undecided about whether he will support the Trans-Pacific Partnership global trade agreement backed by President Barack Obama.

In an interview with The Colorado Independent following a speech before a much-anticipated Sept. 10 debate, Bennet said he doesn’t know if he’ll take a stance on TPP before ballots drop in Colorado here next month.

Obama has said he will try to push the 12-nation Pacific deal through a lame-duck session of Congress despite controversy over provisions that would allow foreign corporations to challenge U.S. laws and regulations in what has been called a “private global super court.”

If completed, the TPP would be one of Obama’s largest foreign policy legacies as president.

Asked what questions he’s considering about the TPP before he supports or rejects it, Bennet said he wants to weigh whether labor and environmental standards are strong enough against the impact trade has on Colorado’s agricultural sector.

“That’s the balance,” he said.

Bennet said he did not have a timeline on when he might take a position. In Colorado, where Nov. 8 will be the first presidential election in which voters can cast ballots entirely by mail, ballots will start hitting mailboxes around Oct. 17.

The TPP, the largest regional trade agreement in history, “would set new terms for trade and business investment among the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations — a far-flung group with an annual gross domestic product of nearly $28 trillion that represents roughly 40 percent of global G.D.P. and one-third of world trade,” according to The New York Times. Critics of the deal worry about runaway globalism and job losses in the United States. An independent study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics reported the deal would raise incomes in the U.S,. but not jobs overall.

Obama has expressed confidence he can get the TPP through Congress after the Nov. 8 election. Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both oppose the deal.

Bennet’s Republican rival in the U.S. Senate race, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, says he has concerns about the TPP and how it could make the U.S. government “subservient to another body.” He wants a larger public discussion and investigation about the deal.

“Right now I would be leaning towards opposed,” Glenn today told The Independent, saying he prefers bilateral agreements where the U.S. government has more control.

The Libertarian candidate in the race, Lily Tang Williams, who will participate in tonight’s Club 20 debate, says she also opposes TPP. She has concerns about transparency and called the accord not “real free trade.”

Arn Menconi, the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, says he has been against the TPP since last summer. Bennet should by now have enough information to make a decision, Menconi said.

Unity Party candidate Bill Hammons, who will also be on the Nov. 8 ballot, says he generally supports free trade with provisions for carbon tariffs and minimum wage protections, and would be a “reluctant” yes vote on TPP.

In May, Colorado’s largest labor union, the state’s chapter of the AFL-CIO, declined to endorse Bennet for re-election because he had not yet taken a public position on the TPP, but voted on a measure giving Obama the authority to “fast track” negotiations for the TPP and other global trade agreements.

Bennet, Glenn, and Williams debated Sept. 10 at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction. 

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project.

2 Comments

  1. Will Morrison on said:

    Pardon me if I’m a little cynical at this point, but after seeing “trade deal” after “trade deal” go through, only to see the HUMAN side of things completely ignored for the monetary side, I really don’t see how we the humans come out of this well at all. NAFTA on steroids is NOT what I think this country, let alone the WORLD needs.

    These so called “trade deals” are really nothing more than agreements to carve out exceptions for huge business to be able to do whatever they want to whoever, where ever, on whoever’s territory and for any length of time they deem fit. They are nothing more than governments deciding how much abusive, illegal behavior they will allow in the name of profits for a very few. Because if any of US as individuals or even small companies tried acting like these corporations do after every deal is passed, we’d be in the slammer for decades.

    Corporations aren’t people, my friend, they are FAR, FAR more. They are superpeople. They can now own anything, do anything, live forever and get away with anything including murder. None of the rest of us can do that. And every time they get their way, WE get screwed.

    Sorry, but this is something that I just can’t support. Kill off TPP and start doing what you can do undo NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT and the rest of these things that allow corporations to run roughshod over the rest of our lives.

  2. OutofCountry on said:

    Claiming he’s undecided while waiting for more info at this point is as believable as saying that the jury is still out on climate change. I see this as a clear signal that Senator Bennet wants to vote for TPP in the lame duck session, win or lose the Senate election. I won’t vote for his Republican opponent, but I also won’t vote for Bennet unless he commits before the election to kill this terrible agreement and says it loud enough that every citizen in the state will punish him if he doesn’t follow through. This is a make-or-break issue as far as I am concerned.

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