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January 26, 2017


The Administration of (Republican) Do-Overs?

I will disagree Dr. Noonan.

While there are ills to address, the particular "medicine" that was the TPP would violate the Hippocratic oath and first do harm.

The manner of development and lack of transparency make the death of the TPP a good thing, no matter what purported benefits you indicate may have accrued.

We still can go after those benefits without the rest of the bitter pill that the TPP brought.

Hey Kevin,

Your points about TPP are well-taken, but I also understand the Trump administration's view that these multi-national treaties don't always favor certain aspects of the American economy. Also, if I recall correctly, there was a push on by several countries to decrease the length of time for biosimilar exclusivity that the Obama administration was more than happy to agree to, but, for example, Senator Hatch was not. And NAFTA does have some downsides for certain American industries, especially when you take into account the corporate tax structure in the US.

Perhaps you are totally correct. Nevertheless, in political messages, it's important not to get too bogged down by the details. Details never bothered Joe Biden in discussing his life story, or Mark Lemley talking about the inventors of the transistor. Trump is sending a message to voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia that he is doing something about their problems. Adam Smith might disagree about the wisdom.

Well, Lawrence, I understand the political power of this meme. But I also think chickens have a nasty habit of coming home and when strawberries cost $18 dollars instead of $3 due to the President's tariffs I can't expect those Michigan, Pennsylvania or West Virginia voters will be happy. To say nothing of the jobs that are not coming back. Funding educational training (carpentry, plumbing, electrical, computers, etc.) outside traditional college education would be a more productive way to address the issue.

Thanks for the comment.

Dear Skeptical: you confuse the process with the outcome. Regardless of anyone's political misgivings about the secrecy with which the treaty was drafted, the actual document was a net plus for biotech/pharma in the signatory countries. As well as all the creative arts folks. I can't damn the treaty because I don't like how it was created; the drafters felt they wouldn't be able to get it done with the world looking over their shoulders.

But don't worry - the great thing about these experiments in government action is that we will find out whether we regret withdrawal or not.

Thanks for the comment

Hi Kevin,

Your points are well taken. The TPP was a the subject of controversy and debate here in New Zealand as well, but interestingly for the reason that it was too much in favour of American interests. This just highlights that any free trade agreement requires compromise from both sides.

I seriously doubt the TPP in its current form will be ratified. Heads of various of the governments including NZ and Japan have admitted as much. Which as you say, leaves it open for China to expand its interests in the Asia Pacific region. Somewhat ironically in a historical context, President Xi seems to be setting China up as a champion of free trade.

New Zealand already has a free trade agreement with China and China is our largest trading partner. No free trade agreement exists with the US even though most would see New Zealand as being more aligned with US interests. With ties to China getting closer and closer all around the region, the US may have lost its last opportunity to be a leader and influence policy in the region.

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