by Madeline Bigelow
Bernie, in all his rallies keeps repeating that Hillary is, and has been, for all Trade Agreements, which is NOT true. Yet, no TV Anchor or Reporter has ever called him out on this lie. For example:
1. NAFTA (1994) – First of all, Hillary did NOT vote for ‘North American Free Trade Agreement’, therefore for Bernie to say or insinuate that she did is a completely FALSE and misleading statement, considering that she was not in Congress when this agreement was signed and enacted. Nevertheless, as the spouse of the man who did ratify it, she had no choice but to publicly support her husband’s decisions in general, whether she agreed with them or not. As stated by Robert Shapiro, the Undersecretary of Commerce during Bill Clinton’s White House years, “…the whole time that Hillary was First Lady, she, like everybody else… was not supposed to publicly deviate from the position of the administration. There is no freedom of speech in there, and that certainly applied to a First Lady.” Had she not abided by this rule, it would have made things very uncomfortable for her as First Lady and difficult for her husband’s administration.
The truth of the matter is that officially and technically she had no say in the ratification of NAFTA. He was the president, she was not. Yet, there is sufficient anecdotal evidence from reputable sources to suggest that Hillary did not agree with NAFTA. For example: Mickey Kantor, the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, “Hillary was one of the great skeptics in the discussion as to whether he should do so. As Kantor noted, Hillary long held reservations over the labor and environmental fallouts of the NAFTA free trade agreement. Liberal Democrats, including Hillary, opposed it primarily because it could take jobs away from American workers, but as an advocate of global economic cooperation, Bill was drawn to its free-trade philosophy.” Unfortunately, it did not turn out as he expected. Sally Bedell Smith, biographer, wrote in her book “For Love of Politics,” in 2007, that “Hillary’s disapproval of the trade agreement was both political and philosophical.” Carl Berstein, who researched a biography on the period of Bill Clinton’s presidency, spoke about Hillary’s fight against NAFTA on a CNN interview in 2008 with Anderson Cooper. He asserted in that interview, that “behind-the-scenes Hillary was absolutely against NAFTA and that she argued vigorously with Bill over it. He told Anderson that he recalled Hillary saying, “you are doing Republican economics when you are doing NAFTA.” She was obviously against NAFTA. Robert Reich, the economist who advised Bill Clinton to ratify NAFTA, and who is currently a Bernie Sanders surrogate and his leading Economist Adviser, wrote in his book about the struggle he had to overcome on Hillary’s opposition to NAFTA and Bill Clinton’s faith in her opinion. In a 2008 Blog he wrote, “HRC didn’t want the Administration to move forward with NAFTA”. In other interviews he has stated that “Hillary wanted NAFTA shelved to work on Universal Healthcare.”
2. CAFTA (2005) – While in congress, Hillary expressed her reservations about free trade agreements, and voted against the ‘Central America Free Trade Agreement’.
3. PTA (2012) – Again, Hillary did NOT vote for the ‘Panama Trade Agreement’, therefore for Bernie to say or insinuate that she did is a completely FALSE and a misleading statement, considering that she was not in Congress when this agreement was signed and enacted. In fact, when it was initially being developed in 2008, during her first presidential campaign she spoke out against it. Nevertheless, prior to its implementation in 2012, as Secretary of State she was obliged to sell it to the best of her ability. As Bernie should know, the SoS is an appointed office, not an elected office and the incumbent works at the pleasure of the president. That unlike a Senator, the SoS is not his/her own boss and is obligated to sell the President’s agenda to the best of their ability, whether they agree with it or not. The SoS has absolutely no say in the development, negotiation, or approval of Trade Agreements.
4. TPP (2015) – Again, Trade agreements ARE NOT developed, negotiated, approved or monitored by the State Department. That is done by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The USTR does not answer to the Department of State and has not done so since the 1960s. While the Secretary of State is still organizationally involved and is kept informed of its progress while in office, he/she does not have direct oversight or control over the development and approval of Trade Agreements. So, to assume or infer that Hillary Clinton personally approved or vetoed parts of the TPP is false. She served at the pleasure of the President and had an obligation to carry out and promote his agenda to the best of her ability.
The Secretary of State is the President’s representative to other heads of State. The ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’ was a centerpiece of President Obama’s foreign policy. It was Hillary’s job to promote that policy as positively as she could, whether she agreed with it or not. If you look back at the times in which Hillary appeared to ‘support’ the TPP and referred to it as the ‘Gold Standard’, it was in speeches where she was listing President Obama’s efforts. She did not go into any TPP specifics, or personally endorse any specific element of the TPP. In fact, she reserved her opinion and decision on it until the final draft was released in October 2015, at which time she publicly denounced it. Unlike Bernie who denounced and opposed the TPP from the beginning without having all the facts, not knowing what it contained, or even read its final draft.
As she stated in a Town Hall meeting, it was not her place to comment on it until the final draft was out. We need to keep in mind that Hillary left the Obama administration over three years ago, so she was not privy to the TPP’s further development during the last three years prior to the TPP’s draft final release.
5. In 2002 while in congress, Hillary voted against extending the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA).
6. In 2005 she voted against giving the president the authority to submit trade agreements for fast-track approval.
7. In 2007 while still in congress, Hillary publicly criticized Trade Packs for their weak labor standards and stated that “it hurt workers”, and she called for the appointment of a Trade Prosecutor, to make sure that Trade Agreement requirements were enforced. Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 7, 2007.
Recognizing the need for Trade Agreements, Hillary has always believed in “smart and pro-American trades”. Trades with labor and environmental standards that protect and benefit both Americans and our trade partners.