President Trump told Republican senators that he has directed NEC chairman Larry Kudlow and trade representative Robert Lighthizer to look at rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump pulled out of the partnership after denouncing it as “a rape of our country.” But while the denunciations were passionate Trump never specified what provisions of the agreement he found objectionable.
Many commentators have suggested that the TPP should be part of an American strategy to counter Chinese mercantilism — an argument that has been revived in recent weeks as critics of President Trump’s proposed tariffs on China have claimed the TPP strategy is superior.
It would be easy for Trump critics to use this episode to point out the thoughtlessness and malleability of some Trump stances and the emptiness of some of his words. Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) is probably right, though, to take the high road. His press release in full:
The best thing the United States can do to push back against Chinese cheating now is to lead the other eleven Pacific nations that believe in free trade and the rule of law. It is good news that today the President directed Larry Kudlow and Ambassador Lighthizer to negotiate U.S. entry into TPP.