On Monday, American officials announced that they had finally reached an accord on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an east-meets-west free trade deal that has been in the works for nearly a decade. TPP languished under “classified” status, irking both Republicans and Democrats who publicly lashed out against the Obama Administration for keeping the details of the trade deal secret, and that frustration has now boiled over as legislators and other officials get their first look at the 1000+ pages of negotiated regulations.
What have we learned so far? Not much, but the Trans-Pacific Partnership was and will remain controversial. High-powered Democrats are pitted against each other—and the president—over concerns that an emphasis on free trade could alienate powerful workers’ unions and other interest groups.
Today, Hillary Clinton formally came out against TPP, citing concerns about job creation, wage levels, and national security, saying, “I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar that I have set.”
“As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it,” Clinton said in the interview. “I have said from the very beginning that we had to have a trade agreement that would create good American jobs, raise wages and advance our national security. I still believe that’s the high bar we have to meet. I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about the agreement, but I’m worried.”
“I appreciate the hard work that President Obama and his team put into this process and recognize the strides they made,” Clinton said in a statement released to reporters traveling with her in Iowa. “But the bar here is very high and, based on what I have seen, I don’t believe this agreement has met it.”
This is a sharp departure for Clinton, who as recently as a few years ago flogged the budding deal as a boon for average American workers. In 2011, Clinton touted TPP as a plan that would help (“small and medium-sized enterprises” become more engaged in international trade. It was a barrier-breaker!
This speech wasn’t an outlier; on at least 45 other occasions, Clinton came out strongly in favor of the very regulations she now opposes.
The procedural bugaboo of the past few months hasn’t escaped her criticism, either. Clinton sided with Democrats during the battle in Congress over the passage of both the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) package:
Most trade associations opposed TAA as being ultimately unfair to union workers, which explains the full-throated opposition from Clinton and other Dems to both TPA and TAA as a matter of principle.
Clinton was a major driver of TPP when she was Secretary of State, and now she’s using it as a political tool to distinguish herself from the languishing and embattled Obama Administration.
Diplomat Hillary loved up on this bill; Candidate Hillary is held captive by the threat of progressive special interests.
Let’s not let her and her supporters forget this point, shall we?
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