It is the biggest event in WTWF (World Trade Wrestling Federation) history! It is a confrontation that has been building for years and one that will be talked about and analyzed for years after the final outcome. Before an international audience, the Trans Pacific Predator (TPP) will take on the Protectionist Unionized Defender (PUD) in a no holds barred main event. Check cable listings and Pay per View in your area. The match will consist of 2 rounds, one held in the US House and the other in the US Senate. While an exact date for the match has not been set, the trash talking has already begun.
In the TPP corner is President Obama, his trade representative, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. In a well-orchestrated media event last week, Mr. Obama made clear that his support for and confidence in the success of TPP is unshakeable, “It will be an enormous achievement for us to have some 40 percent of the world’s economies operating under rules that don’t hurt us.” Shouting from behind the President, Vilsack said, “TPP will create more good paying, export-related jobs, further strengthening the rural economy.” In back of the headliners was a imprecisely large choir of mainline farm groups, all singing in unison, “TPP, it’s for me. Let’s work together to make it be.”
Across town a much smaller gathering of PUD supporters was pushing their point of view. Many wearing old Say No to NAFTA T-shirts, the PUDs claim, “The TPP not only replicates, but expands NAFTA’s special protections for firms that offshore U.S. jobs.” The National Farmers Union leaped to the front of the pack and pointed out that TPP does not address the issue of currency manipulation, “Because of this, NFU will continue to vigorously oppose this agreement and urge Congress to reject this deal as well. Gains that may have been made in the agreement to ensure fairness and equity in trade for America’s family farmers and ranchers are likely to be lost due to currency manipulation.”
At this early stage, the TPP team is more organized and has definitely taken an aggressive stance, knowing that once the deal is delivered to Congress the PUD forces will have plenty of opportunities for public pressure and emotional media manipulation. Labor unions, environmental groups, and anti-trade forces will make it difficult for TPP to get a fair hearing. The carefully-crafted rhetoric of today will give way to hysterical demagoguery and public demonstrations with poorly written and misspelled signs on the Capitol steps.
One thing both sides agree on is that this is a big deal, involving 40% of the world’s economy and having an impact on US agriculture and US exports for decades to come. As a result, this will be a battle to the bitter end. Mr. Obama wants a statue of TPP in his presidential library as one of the crowning achievements of his administration. For the PUDs, this is a fight for survival. If TPP is approved, they will see their power and influence diminish, and the US economy will truly become market and free-trade oriented.
Like most WTWF, events this one will be filled with drama, theater, suspense, and bull%$&t. The final decision will be close and will likely be made on points rather than a pin. The role of American agriculture will be key. As the President said, he is counting on the strong support of agriculture to deliver a TPP victory. The input of farmers and those who work in the food, fiber, energy, and export areas will be vital. TPP is not perfect, but the alternative will turn back the clock on American agriculture to the 1960s.
So — get ready, get rowdy, and get involved. This is a trade wresting smackdown you can’t afford to miss.
By Gary Truitt