Hillary Clinton opposes trade deal she promoted as secretary of state

Hillary Clinton announced yesterday that she opposed the trans-Pacific trade deal completed last week, flip-flopping her position on the agreement that she heavily promoted as secretary of state.

Washington Post:

The now-united opposition from the Democratic presidential field leaves Obama in the uncomfortable position of watching a Democratic presidential debate next week in which none of the major candidates is willing to defend a deal that the White House sees as a key piece of his presidential legacy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord has enraged the labor unions, environmentalists and other liberal constituencies whose support is crucial in the Democratic primary contest.

Yet Clinton’s position marks a sharp reversal from a deal she backed as the Obama administration’s top diplomat as she works to appeal to skeptical liberals.

“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. “But the bar here is very high and, based on what I have seen, I don’t believe this agreement has met it.”

Clinton promoted the deal in dozens of appearances as secretary of state during Obama’s first term in office — a turnaround that was not lost on her primary opponents.

 

“Secretary Clinton can justify her own reversal of opinion on this but I can tell you that I didn’t have one opinion eight months ago and then switch that opinion on the eve of debates,” said Clinton’s presidential rival, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Clinton’s support for trade deals has seemed to fluctuate with the political calendar.

As first lady, she trumpeted the North American deal brokered by her husband, telling unionized garment workers in 1996 that the agreement was “proving its worth.”

Her support for trade pacts began softening during her time as a New York senator, when she voted for trade agreements with Chile, Singapore, Oman, and Morocco but opposed the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Hillary Clinton is running scared, and since the unions, greens, and most liberals are adamantly opposed to the TPP, she simply can't afford to be the only Dem candidate for president who supported the deal.  The flip-flop isn't quite as damaging as it might have been, because Clinton is claiming that she was acting as a team player in the Obama administration when she was promoting the agreement.  That may be a crock, but it doesn't leave much room for her opponents to take a swing at her.

The Democratic debate next week will be very interesting.  A trade agreement, painstakingly negotiated over many years by a Democratic president, is going to be rejected by his own party.  The reason is that Democratic candidates (and senators) fear the wrath of unions more than they fear President Obama. 

The "fast track" for TPP means that Congress will only get to vote the deal up or down.  At this point, the president is going to need almost all Republican senators to vote for the deal in order to get the 66 votes he needs for passage.  With even establishment Republicans questioning aspects of the agreement, that doesn't look very likely.

Hillary Clinton announced yesterday that she opposed the trans-Pacific trade deal completed last week, flip-flopping her position on the agreement that she heavily promoted as secretary of state.

Washington Post:

The now-united opposition from the Democratic presidential field leaves Obama in the uncomfortable position of watching a Democratic presidential debate next week in which none of the major candidates is willing to defend a deal that the White House sees as a key piece of his presidential legacy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord has enraged the labor unions, environmentalists and other liberal constituencies whose support is crucial in the Democratic primary contest.

Yet Clinton’s position marks a sharp reversal from a deal she backed as the Obama administration’s top diplomat as she works to appeal to skeptical liberals.

“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. “But the bar here is very high and, based on what I have seen, I don’t believe this agreement has met it.”

Clinton promoted the deal in dozens of appearances as secretary of state during Obama’s first term in office — a turnaround that was not lost on her primary opponents.

 

“Secretary Clinton can justify her own reversal of opinion on this but I can tell you that I didn’t have one opinion eight months ago and then switch that opinion on the eve of debates,” said Clinton’s presidential rival, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Clinton’s support for trade deals has seemed to fluctuate with the political calendar.

As first lady, she trumpeted the North American deal brokered by her husband, telling unionized garment workers in 1996 that the agreement was “proving its worth.”

Her support for trade pacts began softening during her time as a New York senator, when she voted for trade agreements with Chile, Singapore, Oman, and Morocco but opposed the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Hillary Clinton is running scared, and since the unions, greens, and most liberals are adamantly opposed to the TPP, she simply can't afford to be the only Dem candidate for president who supported the deal.  The flip-flop isn't quite as damaging as it might have been, because Clinton is claiming that she was acting as a team player in the Obama administration when she was promoting the agreement.  That may be a crock, but it doesn't leave much room for her opponents to take a swing at her.

The Democratic debate next week will be very interesting.  A trade agreement, painstakingly negotiated over many years by a Democratic president, is going to be rejected by his own party.  The reason is that Democratic candidates (and senators) fear the wrath of unions more than they fear President Obama. 

The "fast track" for TPP means that Congress will only get to vote the deal up or down.  At this point, the president is going to need almost all Republican senators to vote for the deal in order to get the 66 votes he needs for passage.  With even establishment Republicans questioning aspects of the agreement, that doesn't look very likely.