Hillary Clinton gave a big boost to opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership when, in an interview on the PBS NewsHour Wednesday, she voiced her opposition to the just-completed “trade” treaty.
Clinton joins fellow Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, all of organized labor, all identifiable progressive organizations, almost all congressional Democrats and majorities of rank-and-file Democrats (and even Republicans) in opposing NAFTA-style, corporate-written “trade” deals like the TPP.
Her stated reasons were spot-on with voter concerns: TPP could “… end up doing more harm than good for hard-working American families whose paychecks have barely budged in years.” Also, from the full interview, “But I do worry that we’ve got an equation here. How do we raise incomes in America?”
From Clinton website:
I’m continuing to learn about the details of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, including looking hard at what’s in there to crack down on currency manipulation, which kills American jobs, and to make sure we’re not putting the interests of drug companies ahead of patients and consumers. But based on what I know so far, I can’t support this agreement.
As I have said many times, we need to be sure that new trade deals meet clear tests: They have to create good American jobs, raise wages, and advance our national security. The bar has to be set very high for two reasons.
First, too often over the years we haven’t gotten the balance right on trade. We’ve seen that even a strong deal can fall short on delivering the promised benefits. So I don’t believe we can afford to keep giving new agreements the benefit of the doubt. The risks are too high that, despite our best efforts, they will end up doing more harm than good for hard-working American families whose paychecks have barely budged in years.
Second, we can’t look at this in a vacuum. Years of Republican obstruction at home have weakened U.S. competitiveness and made it harder for Americans who lose jobs and pay because of trade to get back on their feet. Republicans have blocked the investments that we need and that President Obama has proposed in infrastructure, education, clean energy, and innovation. They’ve refused to raise the minimum wage or defend workers’ rights or adequately fund job training.
As a result, America is less competitive than we should be. Workers have fewer protections, the potential positive effects of trade are diminished, and the negative effects are exacerbated. We’re going into this with one arm tied behind our backs.
I still believe in the goal of a strong and fair trade agreement in the Pacific as part of a broader strategy both at home and abroad, just as I did when I was Secretary of State. I appreciate the hard work that President Obama and his team put into this process and recognize the strides they made. But the bar here is very high and, based on what I have seen, I don’t believe this agreement has met it.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made this statement after Clinton voiced her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership:
“America’s working people are very pleased that Senator Clinton is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I applaud her for taking this step and choosing to embrace workers’ values. Her decision is a critical turning point, and will be invaluable in our effort to defeat TPP.”
DC Elite Whines
The elite media and consultant/lobbyist class are aghast at Clinton’s betrayal of the corporate elite. They accuse Clinton of “flip-flopping” and catering to “populists” risking alienation of “moderates” and donors.
The Nelson Report blasts her for respecting democracy, complaining that Clinton is listening to “pollsters” and did this out of “self-interest” (i.e. doing what voters want).
Along the same lines, The Washington Posts’ Daily 202, a column for D.C. insiders (202 is the D.C. area code) complained that Clinton is trying to “placate” core Democrats with a “lurch toward protectionism.” (202 also wrote of Clinton’s call for prosecutions of Wall Street lawbreakers, “She will also bar more people convicted of crimes from working in any capacity in the industry. This could alienate moderate Democrats and Wall Street donors.”)
Still Hard To Kill
It was largely Republicans who voted to pass fast track earlier this year and it is Republicans who are expected to carry TPP in the Congress next year. With the perverse way that Republicans govern, Clinton opposing TPP (and big corporate dollars thrown their way) could actually drive more Republicans to vote for it.
Meanwhile, many of the Democrats who voted for fast track likely did so because of corporate donor influence and hopes for lucrative lobbying jobs when they leave office. That isn’t very likely to change between now and the TPP vote.
Corporate American tends to get what it wants from the Congress these days, and corporate America wants TPP bad. There is going to be a big fight over this. The big, multinational corporations are going to spend a lot and use all of their resources and media and PR to push TPP through. Even with Clinton joining the battle, we are going to have to rally all hands on deck and fight this.