Does Clinton Really Oppose TPP? A Test
On several occasions during Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, he promised to renegotiate free trade agreements including NAFTA and CAFTA (source). Obama later sent adviser Austan Goolsbee to Canada to privately reassure them he meant something other than what he said publicly (pdf)
by Gaius Publius
Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest and Campaign for America's Future has been asking an important question — How do we know we won't be betrayed (again) by the promises of progressive-sounding candidates?
He means that literally, not rhetorically ... is there really a way we can know? I've mentally offered an answer: Look at where their money comes from. But Johnson has a different answer, and one that can be evaluated before the votes are counted.
Does Clinton Really Oppose TPP? There Is A Test For ThatA reminder — "In 2008, for example, candidate Barack Obama repeatedly expressed his opposition to NAFTA." With candidate Sanders, we have a history of both vocal opposition and real, operational opposition. But with candidate Clinton? Many actions that look like support, with non-declarations either way.
Many people have come to believe politicians say what they need to say to win, and then turn on them. If Hillary Clinton wants to win the Democratic nomination and inspire people to vote for her in the general election, she must find ways to overcome this voter skepticism.
There is one test that, if she passes it, could convince voters that Clinton is on their side. It involves what Clinton does over the next few months to prove that she meant it when she came out in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal a few weeks ago. ...
“NAFTA-Style” Trade Deals
One major source of Democratic voter distrust and skepticism that comes up repeatedly is a belief that “corporate Democrats” sold out working people with “NAFTA-style” trade deals.
“Free trade” deals and our country’s corporate-over-labor trade policies generally have resulted in massive, enormous, humongous trade deficits – the metric of jobs lost, factories closed and wealth drained from our economy. These “trade” deals sent millions of jobs out of the country to places like Mexico and China so that shareholders and executives could pocket the wage difference. ...
Politicians know voters understand that the trade deals sold them out, and instead of making things better the politicians lied to the voters and sold them out again. In 2008, for example, candidate Barack Obama repeatedly expressed his opposition to NAFTA, promising to renegotiate the disastrous “trade” agreement “immediately” after taking office. He said, “I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada, to try to amend NAFTA … ”
But Clinton has now declared her opposition to TPP. This suggests two questions:
- How can we know she means it?
- How can we leverage her opposition?
Will Clinton Help Us Defeat TPP?
Many Democrats remain skeptical and do not accept that Clinton meant it when she said she opposes passage of TPP. They wonder if Clinton only came out against TPP for strategic political reasons – to defuse Sanders and O’Malley and get union endorsements – or is she committed to stopping it? ...Shorter Johnson: You will know she tells the truth when she acts like it. Will she act like it? That's in the future, which means she can still not disappoint?
Is Clinton really opposed to TPP? Or is she only saying this to get votes, ready to turn against Democrats on trade issues after the election, as too many others have done?
There is a test for that: What is Clinton willing to actually do to stop TPP? Actions vs. words. If she means what she is saying about reversing inequality, unrigging the system and restoring the path to a middle class the first thing she should be doing is fighting and fighting hard to stop TPP.
Will she actively and boldly lobby against TPP, calling and visiting and working to convince the representatives and senators who voted for fast-track trade authority to vote against TPP?
Will she appear at anti-TPP rallies? Will she speak out again and again at her own campaign events? Will she express opposition on radio and TV interviews? Will she work to rally the media and public in opposition?
Will she take it to the next level? Will she declare that Democrats in Congress who vote for TPP will be out of favor, will not receive reelection support, not get a job in her administration if she is elected? Will she declare that her administration will fight to overturn the bad trade deals and policies that got us into this mess?
Will she not-disappoint? Johnson provides a nice list of ways she can help with both of the goals above. She can let us know she's sincere and at the same time, help with the win by:
- Actively and boldly lobbying against TPP
- Appearing at anti-TPP rallies
- Declaring that congressional Democrats who vote for TPP will be out of favor, will not receive reelection support, not get a job in her administration if she is elected
And what Democratic voter wouldn't know what to think if they don't? After all, Obama blazed the way down that path too. Like Johnson said, a test, and one she can pass.