President Barack Obama has plans for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the other leaders who journeyed to the White House Friday to discuss the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.
Reed told our AJC colleague Leon Stafford he will reach out to mayors who are not on board with the measure to promote the trade deal’s benefits.
Obama is mounting a final push to get Congress to approve the deal in its lame-duck session and a tight timeline to convince lawmakers that the 12-nation deal is worth it. If not, the deal is likely kaput: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have both disavowed it.
Reed is among a bipartisan group in Georgia behind the trade deal, which supporters say bolsters 150,000 trade-related jobs in metro Atlanta and is key to the Port of Savannah. Sen. David Perdue backs the idea, saying he wants the U.S. to be at the helm of a trade deal rather than China, and so do other Georgia GOP leaders.
But the populist wings of both parties have revolted against it, sparked by opposition in the primaries from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Trump. Both warn the trade deal could stifle the manufacturing industry and gut the middle class.
Reed told Stafford the opening to pass the deal is closing fast.
“I think we can get it done,” Reed said. “I think now is the only opportunity to get it done.”
Here’s a snippet of Reed’s address at the White House earlier Friday:
“There are a number of very important reasons for us not to let this matter fail, and the most important in my mind really is determining who’s going to set the rules of the road. We have been working on this transaction for more than five years. The President and Ambassador (Michael) Froman have done an exceptional job negotiating a very favorable agreement that is now becoming known to the world. If we want to make sure that the United States continues to lead and continues to set the rules of the road with 40 percent of the global GDP, we need to get this deal done.
“One of the other factors that isn’t mentioned enough is that the TPP group also forms the basis for more than 40 percent of future GDP growth. And so, once again, we think that it is in America’s vital interest and in the interest of small towns across the United States of America to see that this bill is passed. Businesses that engage in international trade are more successful, pay higher wages to their workers. And so we have come together to make sure that in this season, with so much political noise and gamesmanship, that a bill that is vital to the United States long-term interest doesn’t get left aside.”