Sen. Bernie Sanders is strongly opposing President Obama's new international trade proposal. As Sanders considers a run for president, he says the trade deal should be a key issue in the Democratic 2016 presidential primary campaign.
Sanders has not formally announced his candidacy, but if he does run, it's clear that economic issues will be at the center of his campaign.
The Senate will soon consider a 12-nation trade agreement, backed by President Obama, that's known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or T.P.P.
The legislation has been given "fast-track" status in the Senate, which means there can be no amendments to the bill – just an up or down vote.
Sanders says rushing this trade agreement through the Senate without thoughtful consideration is undemocratic.
"People are being asked to vote on a very long and complicated treaty of which they know nothing about, because most members have not read it,” Sanders said in an interview Thursday.
Sanders says previous trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the trade pact between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, resulted in the loss of millions of American manufacturing jobs. He thinks the same thing will happen if this plan wins approval.
"American workers should not be forced to compete against people who are making desperately low wages. That's not what a good trade policy is,” Sanders says. “Yes, it makes corporations much more profitable, but it leads to lower wages in America and it leads to the loss of jobs."
And Sanders says the Pacific trade deal should be a key issue in the upcoming Democratic presidential primary campaign.
"If you want to understand why the middle class in America is disappearing and why we have more wealth and income inequality in America than we have had since the late 1920s, you have to address the issue of trade,” he says. “I think that Hillary Clinton and every candidate out there should in fact address whether or not they support this T.P.P."
Sanders is expected to announce if he will run for president in the next 10 days. His advocacy on economic issues makes it likely that he will enter the Democratic primary contest.