By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
Polling and congressional trade agreement voting records over the past two decades show a steady erosion of what had been bipartisan support for trade agreements. Polls show the U.S. public supports the concept of trade expansion, but opposes the status quo trade model.
The actual results of trade pacts since the controversial North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have fueled this trend.
Over 21 years, a series of trade agreements not only have failed to meet their corporate and political backers’ glowing promises of job creation, but instead have contributed to unprecedented and unsustainable trade deficits, the net loss of nearly 5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs and more than 55,000 factories, the offshoring of higher-wage service sector jobs, flat median wages despite significant productivity gains and the worst U.S. income inequality in the last century. Even for U.S. agriculture, a sector that consistently has been promised gains from trade pacts, U.S. food exports have stagnated while U.S. food imports have surged under NAFTA-style deals. Given that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact now under negotiation replicates and expands on the same model, opposition in Congress and among the public is deep and broad.