For most of his tenure, US President Barack Obama has gone after his strongest Republican critics over the budget, Iran, climate change and minimum wage laws.
But now he’s going after a new group of critics: members of his own party.
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The issue is international trade policy and many Democrats in the US Congress and their supporters think Obama is selling the country out.
In an interview on Tuesday, Obama went after them over their opposition to a massive Asia-Pacific trade deal currently being negotiated.
“When you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is,” Obama told MSNBC, “when you dig into the facts, they [critics] are wrong.”
The deal’s called the Trans Pacific Partnership(TPP), involving 12 countries, and is being marketed as a counterbalance to China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Obama administration is one of its leading proponents.
The opposition has ramped up in the past several days because many lawmakers in the US Congress are now pushing to give the president so-called “fast-track” authority to negotiate it without any public input and limited Congressional scrutiny.
But labour unions, progressive organisations and many Democratic lawmakers from states that have felt the negative effects of previous trade deals are vehemently opposed to it saying they doubt there will be enough environmental, human rights and labour protections in the agreement.
“My colleagues and I did not get elected to Congress only to give up on our Constitutional duty to scrutinise legislation,” Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, one of the deal’s biggest critics on Capitol Hill, said on Tuesday.
“We need a trade policy that helps working Americans, instead of sending their jobs overseas, and treats transparency, labour rights, public health and the environment as fundamental, not as an afterthought.”