Monday, June 22, 2015

Hillary Clinton supports TPP and TPA with TAA

* Editor's Note: Directly below is a key to the acronyms mentioned in this post on the trade debate:

  • TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) A huge secret trade deal with Asia (like TTIP for Europe and TiSA globally).
  • TPA (Trade Promotion Authority) Fast track authority for presidents to negotiate these horrific trade deals without any Congressional changes.
  • TAA (Trade Adjustment Assistance) A program to re-train workers who are displaced by bad trade deals when their jobs are offshored.

The media has been reporting that it's the Democrats who have been split on the issues of trade (TPP, TPA and TAA). But it appears the Republicans have also been just as split on these issues. According to the website Liberty News, the following is a list 2016 GOP presidential candidates and their views on what they have affectionately nicknamed ObamaTrade:

Scott Walker (Tentatively supports TPP)
Rick Santorum (Supports TPP and Fast Track, but wants it passed under next President)
Marco Rubio (Voted for TPP in Senate)
Rick Perry (Supports TPP)
Mike Pence (Supports TPP)
Ted Cruz (Voted for TPP in Senate)
Jeb Bush (Huge advocate for TPP)
Rand Paul (Opposes and Voted Against TPP)
John Kasich (Says supports free trade but refuses to endorse TPP)
Bobby Jindal (Opposes fast track and hasn’t agreed to support TPP)
Mike Huckabee (Opposes TPP)
Carly Fiorina (Opposes TPP)
Ben Carson (Opposes TPP)

The Breitbart website, who also calls this ObamaTrade, reports that Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) both voted for TPA but have continued to refuse to answer whether they read the TPP text before voting for it. The website also noted the often unmentioned Export-Import Bank, which many believe is just more crony capitalism.

As for all the 2016 Democratic presidential contenders: Senator Bernie Sanders (op-ed and video), Jim Webb (former senator and Assistant Secretary of Defense) and Martin O'Malley (former Governor of Maryland), all oppose TPP and fast track — all except for Hillary Clinton.

But for some reason, some media outlets seem to be subtly implying that Hillary Clinton may be disagreeing with Obama on the TPP trade deal — and that she is against fast-tracking TPP. But really, she just opposes the current bill if it excludes the funding for re-training displaced workers (known as TAA).

At the very least, when she was recently asked about her positions on TPP, Hillary Clinton just waffled and danced around the question on TPP and fast-track again. Every other presidential candidate has made it perfectly clear where they stand on fast-track and TPP — all except for Hillary Clinton, who is either unsure and/or uninformed, or is deliberately hiding her true opinions for fear that voters won't elect her if she told the complete and ungarbled truth.

Here is exactly what Hillary Clinton recently told Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston in a recent TV interview (June 16, 2015) about fast-track (TPA), and her thoughts about the program for re-training displaced workers (TAA) and her position on the Asian trade agreement (TPP) — which is at the very end of the interview:

Jon: Last question and hopefully it’s a simple yes or no, but I’m not that optimistic. If you were in the Senate still, would you vote for TPA when it gets there?

Hillary: At this point, probably not because it’s a process vote and I don’t want to say it’s the same as TPP. Right now I’m focused on making sure we get trade adjustment assistance and I certainly would not vote for it unless I were absolutely confident we would get trade adjustment assistance.

Jon: Almost a yes or no, I’m impressed.

So it appears that, with the current bill going to the Senate for fast-track, if it included assistance for displaced workers (TAA), Hillary Clinton would support the proposed trade deal (TPP) and for giving Obama fast-track (TPA). It's only if TAA isn't also included, that she would be against either fast track and/or the TPP trade agreement (because she doesn't say otherwise).

Below is the compete and unedited text to the part of Hillary's interview pertaining to assistance for displaced workers (TAA), the trade deal (TPP) and fast-track (TPA). And further below is the video:

Jon: "Switching gears, there was a big vote today as you know in the House and TPA was passed again. You have been a big supporter of free trade, both as a Senator and as Secretary of State, but now you seem to be, I know you’re not going to like this word, waffling, maybe not taking a position on it. Is it just because you’re afraid of alienating traditional democratic constituencies? Why won’t you give a full throated endorsement of that as a...

Hillary: Well first, let me set my record straight in the Senate. I voted for trade agreements that I thought were good for America and I voted against them, including the Multinational Central American Free Trade Agreement. I voted against giving President Bush fast track authority. So I try to make a judgment based on the merits and when I was in the Senate there were a number of trade agreements that I thought were good, I said okay I’ll vote for them, and others not.

Jon: What is this? [Meaning the TPP trade deal.]

Hillary: That’s what’s so hard. I don’t know yet. And this is what I’ve been trying to convey. Until we know what’s in the agreement, and yes, when it began to be negotiated I said it holds out the promise to be the gold standard. We’re going to have to do business with some of these big economies like Japans for example, so let’s figure out how we can raise labor standards, health standards, protect the environment, create the best possible trading agreement.

Jon: You said that in the past though. You said TPP will do those things.

Hillary: And let’s hope it does, but my question now is, see, I have not read it. It’s only available to people who go to a certain room in the Capitol Hill Complex and they can’t show it to their aides and they can’t even take notes on it, so all I can judge is what people are coming out and telling me [plugging her book] and even in my book Hard Choices last summer, I said I have real doubt about this so called investor state dispute settlement agreement, which basically means you run a big company, pick a big Asian company of some sort from one of the countries in the agreement and you want to import some kind of food and the local officials, say in Nevada, say, you know what? That doesn’t meet our standards. Or the FDA says it, somebody says it, and so you then say wait a minute, under this trade agreement I should be able to do that, so I demand one of these dispute settlement determinations. Who’s in the room? Maybe I’m an expert on health and running a hygiene program in Nevada. Maybe I’m the person who oversees the big casinos’ health standards. They’ve got lots of people coming, we want to keep them healthy and I say, no, I want to be heard because we found problems in that company’s food and you’re told now, this is just between the company and the local government. Well that makes no sense to me. It should be an open process and I have said that. I’ve said that for months now. So here’s what I…I was willing to wait until I could see what’s in it before I took a decision, like I did when I was a senator.

Jon: But you said some very positive things about it many, many times in the past. You know that.

Hillary: No Joe, I said positive things about the process and the potential. Look, if we could get the right kind of agreement that was good for workers, good for wages, good for the environment, labor, safety, health, and good for our national security, that would be great for America. Some people don’t like any trade agreement and some people are willing to take any trade agreement and those two sides of the debate are not who I’m listening to. I’m trying to figure out what can we do to get the best possible agreement and that’s why, on Friday, when the House Democrats stopped the process I said, you know, the President and his negotiators should listen, not to the pro and the no, but to the people who say let’s fix this dispute supplement. Let’s do more to enforce decent labor standards so our workers are not at a disadvantage.

Jon: You seem to think the President has mishandled this.

Hillary: No, I think the President has a hard hand to play and he’s done was well as he could given the demands from these other countries, but I also know, because I’ve been part of seeing trade agreements opened up after fast track, okay, so that you get to a point where you say, okay, we’d like to pass it but only if you make these changes. Then the other countries, which also have a big stake in it, they come around. When I was Secretary of State, the Bush administration negotiated a free trade agreement with Korea. So when President Obama comes in and I come in, we’re presented with this free trade agreement and we say, it’s not strong enough on getting cars for example, American made cars, into that market. We worked with the UAW, we worked with car manufacturers here and we said we can’t go forward with it unless changes. That is the kind of negotiation I am proposing. I’m well aware this is hard work and when you’ve got all these other countries around the table and they’re saying we can’t do this and we can’t do that, of course you’re fighting to try to get the best and what I do believe the President is think is, okay, if I get trade promotion authority, used to be known as fast track, then I can go and I can say to all these other countries, okay, the deal I make can be enforced but I can’t make the deal unless you make these changes.

Jon: Last question and hopefully it’s a simple yes or no, but I’m not that optimistic. If you were in the Senate still, would you vote for TPA when it gets there?

Hillary: At this point, probably not because it’s a process vote and I don’t want to say it’s the same as TPP. Right now I’m focused on making sure we get trade adjustment assistance and I certainly would not vote for it unless I were absolutely confident we would get trade adjustment assistance.

Jon: Almost a yes or no, I’m impressed.

Hillary: Well these are complicated issues Joe.

Jon: I agree, I just wanted to...

Hillary: I appreciate your asking about it and giving me a chance to talk about some of the complexity around it.

[Then the subject abruptly changes.]

The text to the complete interview is here — and below is a 6 minute video of the interview in her own words at YouTube (copied from the full interview here). Of course, because the Clintons are so apt with political doublespeak (a language they've both mastered over the years), it's somewhat understandable that even the most proficient journalist could be a bit confused in their reporting. 

Also, here's another video at YouTube of Hillary Clinton just two days before that interview, explaining how Obama should get fast track. She clearly seems to support both the TPP trade deal and fast-track, and is only taking a stand on assistance for displaced workers — which, at best, is only a mediocre program that does very little for millions of workers who lose jobs to foreign low-wage countries.

As an aside, from the Economic Policy Institute: Former U.S. Labor Secretaries F. Ray Marshall and Robert Reich called on Congress to reject fast track and the TPP trade deal because that deal will harm America’s working people. Despite this, the House approved a truncated version of Fast Track (TPA) that excludes funding for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for displaced workers. But passing TPA without TAA is a risky gamble because many Democrats have demanded that the two move simultaneously.


  1. JUNE 23, 2015: BREAKING NEWS!!!

    Obama get "fast track"

    Were there any citizen groups, labor unions, letters to the editor, personal blogs or petitions pushing FOR fast-track or the TPP trade agreement?

    There were hundreds AGAINST it.

    So essentially, again the majority in Congress have voted AGAINST the will of the American people — and in favor of major U.S. multi-national corporations.

    $$$ in politics is destroying democracy in this country, and destroying the livelihoods of American workers.

    Per the Nation: The 13 Senate Democrats who helped get fast track over the line:

    1) Michael Bennet of Colorado
    2) Maria Cantwell of Washington
    3) Patty Murray of Washington
    4) Tom Carper of Delaware
    5) Chris Coons of Delaware
    6) Dianne Feinstein of California
    7) Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota,
    8) Tim Kaine of Virginia
    9) Mark Warner of Virginia
    10) Claire McCaskill of Missouri
    11) Bill Nelson of Florida
    12) Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire
    13) Ron Wyden of Oregon

    True Democracy died a long time ago with a phony two party system that doesn’t allow any other voices to participate widely. Now with so much money allowed in elections, each time congress votes, it votes for the money (for very wealthy individuals and their large corporations) and against the people (no matter what party is in control).

  2. U.S. polling shows strong opposition to fast tracking trade deals (from Independents to Republicans and Democrats alike). But yet, Congress still votes against the will of the American people. Over half the people in Congress must be just plain evil; and President Obama (if not evil himself) must be gullible for believing his manipulative advisors.

  3. This is good --- Ed Schultz calls Obama a turncoat (regarding the Senate fast track vote today)

    Today on Tuesday’s radio podcast (June 23, 2015) Ed Schultz is joined by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, and United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard for reaction to the Senate moving forward with Trade Promotion Authority.

    Direct link to the Mp3 of the podcast for download to play later.

  4. A Great Day for Corporate America': US Senate Passes Fast Track

    'Shameful' vote all but ensures approval of mammoth trade deals like the TransPacific Partnership

    Bernie Sanders: Corporate America Wins Again (after the fast track vote today)

  5. The whole scoop is at Naked Capitalism: "TPP: 13 Democratic Senators Invite Republicans to Make Them Laughing Stocks — and More Serious Matters"

    * Editors' Note: 13 Democrats, Obama, and all (but 5) Republicans in the Senate wanted fast-track for trade deals. That makes 13 Democrats in the Senate "free traitors" to working Americans and makes Obama a Republican president.