These may appear to be economic issues but, as Zoellick reminds us, it is mostly about politics when the respective parliaments get involved and the ensuing trade-offs inflict pain on their constituents and supporters.
While there may be enthusiasm in business circles and the policy community, the American public sentiment on trade remains very skeptical. By one typical poll, 63 percent of the respondents declared trade “bad” because it results in the loss of jobs and lower wages. Only 30 percent believed that it reduces prices and expands choices for consumers. The fundamental belief is that trade agreements result in American jobs being transferred to other countries.
The TTIP will be a major challenge for both the U.S. and EU. The U.S., for its part, is already heavily involved in trade negotiations with nine Asian countries (ultimately 11, if Japan and South Korea are included), and at the moment the U.S. chief negotiator is the U.S. trade representative, an unfilled position in the Obama administration. On the EU side, there are multiple public agencies that must be consulted, which all but guarantee years of negotiations.
Hopefully this time the trade agreement will be more about economics and less about politics!
Don Bonker, executive director at APCO Worldwide, is a former congressman and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Trade. Cliff Stearns, who currently works at APCO Worldwide, is a former congressman and former chairman of the TransAtlantic Dialogue with EU.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.