Can Donald Trump Sink the TPP?


A last-minute deal has finally been reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and concerns abound. Paul Ryan is concerned about dairy products. Sander Levin is concerned about cars. In Louisiana they’re concerned about sugar. The whole deal is oozing with parochial local concerns.

So will it pass? A couple of months ago, I would have said yes, and I guess I still do. But I’m a little less sure thanks to the Donald Trump effect. He’s opposed to the deal—there’s no telling why, really—and he’s shown a genius in the past for picking out specific details about various issues and then flogging them to death. So I wonder: what’s he going to pick out about the TPP? It might be something ordinary, like currency manipulation provisions, or a general attack on President Obama’s lousy negotiating skills. Equally likely, though, he’ll somehow find something in the treaty that no one else is really paying attention to, and then twist it into a populist attack that really resonates with the public. If he does that successfully, it’s just possible that he could derail the deal.

I’m not sure what odds I’d put on that. But not zero. So far, Trump has mostly been a loudmouth who hasn’t fundamentally changed the political landscape. But there’s a chance he could do it here. He’s worth watching.