Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Wednesday announcement that she opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership prompted an immediate response from several of her Democratic rivals in the presidential race.
“Wow! That’s a reversal!” the rival, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D, said in a statement.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), meanwhile, reportedly said he would “let the American people decide” whether Clinton had credibility on the issue.
When Clinton served in President Barack Obama’s administration, she used to extensively praise the Pacific trade deal. Indeed, CNN once counted up 45 times she pushed the agreement.
But after she launched her presidential campaign this year, Clinton started hedging and saying she needed more information to conclude decisively one way or the other.
During a Wednesday interview on PBS’ “NewsHour,” Clinton said the more she learned about the deal, the more reservations she had developed.
“I have been trying to learn as much as I can about the agreement. But I’m worried. I’m worried about currency manipulation not being part of the agreement,” she said. “We’ve learned a lot about trade agreements in the past years. Sometimes they look great on paper.”
O’Malley, however, suggested that Clinton’s position shifted because her first 2016 debate is next week.
“I believe we need to stop stumbling backwards into bad deals. Secretary Clinton can justify her own reversal of opinion on this, but I didn’t have one opinion 8 months ago and switch that opinion on the eve of debates,” O’Malley’s statement continued. “I’m against the Trans Pacific Partnership. I let people know that from the outset.”
Sanders, who has surged in Democratic primary polls, has also made opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership a central part of his agenda.
Clinton’s full statement on the trade agreement is below:
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 have 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 recognise 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.
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