President Barack Obama took aim at critics in his own party who are fighting against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is intended to increase trade and investment between the United States and several countries in Asia, in addition to Australia, Canada, Chile and Mexico, among others.
However, Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, environmental activist groups and trade unions have opposed the long-negotiated deal, arguing it would send jobs overseas.
"When people say that this trade deal is bad for working families, they don't know what they're talking about," Obama told a group of volunteers and donors with Organizing for Action (OFA), which was created by his former campaign team. "I take that personally. My entire presidency has been about helping working families.”
Obama told OFA he wanted to set the record straight about the nature of the TPP.
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“This set of trade agreements are vital to middle class economics, the idea that this country does best when everybody gets their fair shot, everybody gets their fair share and everybody plays by the same rules,” he said. “We’ve got to deal with a place where rules are different in other countries and we got to make sure those rules work for us, that why I think America needs to write the rules of the globe economy.”
Obama also said it didn’t make sense to go forward with the TPP if it hurt the middle class. "I spent a lot of time and a lot of political capital to save the auto industry," he said. “Why would I pass a deal that would be bad for U.S. auto workers?”
Obama is currently seeking support from Congress to fast-track the TPP deal and said criticism from Democrats who still have a bad taste in their mouth from job losses following the approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993 is unwarranted and out of date.
"You need to tell me what's wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago," Obama said. "We can't just oppose trade on reflex alone.”