Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has been tapped by President Barack Obama to help sell the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The partnership, or TPP as it is commonly called, is a complex — and controversial — trade agreement that is meant to reduce barriers to trade in Pacific Rim countries while curbing China’s influence in the area. Supporters say it would boost the U.S. economy. Critics counter that it would lower wages, cost jobs and hurt American workers.
In a joint press conference held Sept. 16 with Ohio Gov. John Kasich at the White House, Reed said: “The bottom line is, if you look at any real analysis, this bill is going to generate better-paying jobs that are more stable.”
We can’t check whether the trade deal will create jobs and economic stability, but we can check whether Reed is accurate when he states that “any real analysis” projects that specific outcome.
PolitiFact decided to take a look and found that some studies back up the mayor’s assertion, while others paint a different picture.
The TPP, which still needs to be passed by Congress, would lower tariffs and reduce regulations between 12 countries — the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Reed’s role in advocating for the TPP puts him in a delicate political position. He is a major supporter and surrogate for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who now opposes the agreement. PolitiFact rated her position on the issue a Flip Flop.
“I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages — including the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Clinton said at a recent Ohio campaign stop, according to the Los Angeles Times.
PolitiFact Georgia reached out to Reed to find out how he came to his conclusion.
Reed’s director of communications, Anne Torres, said the mayor was alluding to a Commerce Department blog post on the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement around 2014:
“At the same time that we were experiencing the longest streak of job growth, we also experienced a record year when it came to export-supported jobs: more than 11.7 million. This number includes the 2.8 million jobs supported by the exports to our North American Free Trade Agreement partners Canada and Mexico. And we know those export supported jobs pay 13 to 18% higher wages than non-export supported jobs.”
The blog post says similar, positive effects could be felt by TPP countries by 2030.
PolitiFact looked at six studies on the impact the agreement could have on jobs. Like politicians, research institutions are divided on the issue.
Clinton said she changed her stance on the issue because the current agreement wasn’t the original version she supported as secretary of state.
The 800-page report by the U.S. International Trade Commission estimates an increase in wages and 128,000 new jobs.
The Brookings Institution, which has argued in favor of the TPP, says the agreement will increase service-sector jobs. Much of the pushback, including from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, centers on the loss of manufacturing jobs to other countries through free trade. U.S. manufacturing accounts for about 9 percent of jobs in America. Since Obama took office, there’s been a net loss of about 95,000 manufacturing jobs.
The conservative group Americans for Tax Reform’s analysis found “more than 1 in 5 American jobs are tied to trade, and these workers earn 16 percent more than jobs in industries not tied to trade.” The group has said the TPP is a step in the right direction but needs work.
To further address the “better paying” part of Reed’s quote, a study by Johns Hopkins University and the East-West Center estimated the agreement would raise U.S. real incomes by 0.5 percent by 2030. Median household income grew 5.2 percent in 2015 in the U.S., an upward swing that hadn’t been seen in years.
Finally, the labor-supporting Economic Policy Institute says, “this deal will lead to more job loss and downward pressures on the wages of most working Americans.” This analysis is neither stable nor high-paying.
The stability of jobs that could be created by the TPP is another issue. Some studies, including one cited by Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, predict a loss of jobs.
This loss of half a million jobs is a notable number cited in the TPP debate. A study by Tufts University found 448,000 jobs could be lost under the agreement, though this is the largest number of job losses reported. PolitiFact rated this half-a-million job loss Half True when it was cited by Sanders.
Dean Baker, co-director at the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research, said the near-half-a-million figure “wouldn’t be my best guess, but it’s not an obviously ridiculous number.”
But Baker notes the gains and losses go both ways. While trade deals open markets, the U.S. imports more than it exports.
Reed said, “If you look at any real analysis,” the Trans-Pacific Partnership is “going to generate better-paying jobs that are more stable.”
The mayor is cherry-picking studies on this issue. Of the numerous studies conducted on the possible outcomes of the TPP, some predict a loss of jobs, while others say higher-paying jobs will receive a boost. Overall, it’s difficult to calculate the stability of the jobs that may be lost or may be created as a result of the TPP.
The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details.
We rate Reed’s comments Half True.
For the full fact check with all sourcing, please see www.politifact.com/georgia/.
“If you look at any real analysis,” the Trans-Pacific Partnership is “going to generate better-paying jobs that are more stable.”
Kasim Reed, September 16, 2016, in a press conference at the White House.