While we’re in a trade policy and Election 2016 frame of mind (as per this morning’s post), two fascinating Clinton-related tidbits recently came to my attention that deserve much more than a tweet! Both are from an excellent January 14 CNN post on the subject.
First, it’s important to note re-emphasize that, although much of Hillary Clinton’s reputed campaign brain trust has just recommended including strong disciplines against currency manipulation in new trade deals like President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Ms. Clinton spent years as Secretary of State touting the agreement even though it lacked such provisions. Now that she’s no longer working for the administration, her position is a little more difficult to discern.
A spokesman pointed CNN to a statement in Ms. Clinton’s latest book, Hard Choices, that, although positive, is still pretty ambiguous. She simply wrote that “One of our most important tools for engaging with Vietnam was a proposed new trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would link markets throughout Asia and the Americas, lowering trade barriers while raising standards on labor, the environment, and intellectual property,”
Nothing of course would be easier for Ms. Clinton than to say in the upcoming campaign that the final deal didn’t meet her expectations, and that she’s now opposed.
But if she did, she could ruffle her husband’s feathers a bit – as she probably has in the past. Just before her last presidential run, then-Senator Clinton told a labor audience that “NAFTA and the way it’s been implemented has hurt a lot of American workers. Clearly we have to have a broad reform in how we approach trade. NAFTA’s a piece of it, but it’s not the only piece of it.”
Yet President Clinton is still an enthusiast about the agreement that added Mexico to an existing free trade agreement with Canada, and that set the mold for future such deals – including the TPP. Last fall, he predicted that although “NAFTA is still controversial…people will thank me for it in 20 years.” Someone let me know if they find any remarks he or any aides made while pushing the deal through Congress back in 1993 that the payoff wouldn’t be apparent to most of the nation for 40 years.