- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Conflicting public opinions of the effects of international free trade agreements are spurring doubts over a potential deal President Obama is pushing with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

About 58 percent of Americans believe free trade agreements are good for the U.S., up by 10 percent from 2011, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted May 12-18 among 2,002 adults and made public Wednesday.

But at the same time, 46 percent of respondents said trade agreements lead to fewer jobs and lower wages, while just 17 percent say such agreements create jobs.

The Pew survey comes less than a week after the Senate approved so-called fast-track legislation giving President Obama increased authority to negotiate the contentious trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“We believe that securing a trade deal will be good for American workers and good for the American workforce,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.

The survey suggested that he way Americans view free trade agreements like the TPP is largely dependent on their personal income, affecting those in the lowest income group the most. Some 44 percent of those with family incomes of less than $30,000 say they have been hurt by free-trade agreements, compared to 29 percent of those earning $100,000 or more.

On a partisan basis, there is little difference between Democratic and Republican voters, with 58 percent of Democrats saying free trade agreements are good for the U.S. compared to 53 percent of Republicans.

But on Capitol Hill, Mr.Obama has faced tough opposition to the deal from members of his own party, forcing him to rely largely on Republican support to keep the deal alive.

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