As the fight over the Trans-Pacific Partnership rages on Capitol Hill, President Obama is finding himself increasingly playing defense against attacks from his own party. In a Tuesday interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews, the president struck back at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of the most vocal opponents of the trade deal the administration is currently negotiating, covering a broad range of issues including tariffs, environmental standards, and intellectual property.
"I love Elizabeth. We're allies on a whole host of issues, but she's wrong on this," he said.
Warren is one of the loudest voices among a chorus of progressives who argue that the TPP would send US jobs overseas, primarily benefit corporations, and threaten US sovereignty. Obama struck back at those notions in Tuesday's interview.
"I would not be doing this trade deal if I did not think it was good for the middle class," he told Matthews. "And when you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is, when you dig into the facts, they are wrong."
The TPP would be a massive trade deal, bringing together 12 nations that together account for around 40 percent of global GDP. And the battle over TPP is growing fiercer these days, as Congress prepares to decide whether to give the president trade promotion authority, also known as "fast-track."
If they do, it means that once the 12 TPP nations reach an agreement, Congress will give it an up-or-down vote, with no amendments. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden have introduced trade promotion authority legislation in the Senate, and the House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a Wednesday hearing on trade promotion authority, as well.
While Obama has some Democrat allies like Wyden on the Hill, Warren is also one of many progressives who oppose Obama on TPP — for example, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid have both spoken out against it, as well as the labor unions whose funding powers many Democratic campaigns. The AFL-CIO recently protested fast-track by stopping its PACs from donating to congressional campaigns until after a trade promotion authority vote.