According to Hillary Clinton’s latest campaign ploy, she deserves credit for domestic policies passed under Obama — notably, ObamaCare — but not issues — in this case, trade deals — she negotiated as Secretary of State.
She rolled out former Governor and erstwhile Michigan resident Jennifer Granholm (when this story hit, some local folks were talking about how Granholm hasn’t been seen in these parts of late) to claim that Hillary can’t be held responsible for NAFTA — which she supported when it got passed by her spouse (who is, of course, a key campaign surrogate) — or for the Trans-Pacific Partnership — which she helped negotiate as Secretary of State. It’s the latter I find particularly remarkable.
“It’s not really fair to ascribe NAFTA to her when it was her husband’s administration,” Granholm said in an interview with The Detroit News. “And, of course, it’s not really fair to ascribe TPP to her when it was her boss’s administration. She can’t go against somebody who she worked for.”
As a U.S. senator from New York, Clinton voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) forged by Republican President George W. Bush’s administration.
“I think people have to be fair about looking at how she acted when she was on her own,” said Granholm, who is supporting Clinton’s candidacy.
Sanders has been talking about trade policy in speeches in Michigan this week. His campaign is planning a large rally a 7:30 p.m. Saturday night at Macomb Community College’s southern campus in Warren. Clinton and her husband were stumping for votes Saturday in Detroit.
“On the issue of trade, Secretary Clinton’s views and mine are very different,” Sanders said. “She has supported NAFTA, I opposed it. She supported permanent normal trade relations with China, I vigorously opposed the (permanent trade) with China. She supported permanent normal trade relations with Vietnam, I opposed that.”
“She supported the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. I opposed that. And she supported the Korean Free Trade Agreement. I opposed that.”
It’s unclear from Detroit News’ reporting whether Granholm includes the Colombian and Korean free trade deals in her absolution of Hillary’s responsibility or not. But as David Sirota has shown, Hillary’s own emails show some really damning details about her claims and enthusiasm for the former (which makes sense, because she is also an enthusiastic booster of Plan Colombia).
During her 2008 presidential run, Clinton said she opposed the deal because “I am very concerned about the history of violence against trade unionists in Colombia.” She later declared, “I oppose the deal. I have spoken out against the deal, I will vote against the deal, and I will do everything I can to urge the Congress to reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.”
But newly released emails show that as secretary of state, Clinton was personally lobbying Democratic members of Congress to support the deal, even promising one senior lawmaker that the deal would extend labor protections to Colombian workers that would be as good or better than those enjoyed by many workers in the United States.
One of the 2011 emails from Clinton to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Clinton aide Robert Hormats has a subject line “Sandy Levin” — a reference to the Democratic congressman who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees U.S. trade policy. In the email detailing her call with Levin, she said the Michigan lawmaker “appreciates the changes that have been made, the national security arguments and Santos’s reforms” — the latter presumably a reference to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. She concludes the message about the call with Levin by saying, “I told him that at the rate we were going, Columbian [sic] workers were going to end up w the same or better rights than workers in Wisconsin and Indiana and, maybe even, Michigan.”
Note, too, in that email that there is no exemption claimed for the paragraph that follows on the discussion of KORUS, which has been particularly damaging to Michigan’s economy.
Look, last I checked, Hillary cleaned up on Super Tuesday claiming she is running on a continuation of Obama’s policies. While I recognize she mostly means the domestic policies she had a less direct role in, at some point we get to hold her accountable for the things she did in her actual job, which included negotiating trade deals that hurt American workers, especially while she’s claiming she’ll be Obama’s third term. Her role in trade deals — and her likely dishonesty about TPP (see this Larry Summers piece that assumes if Trump wins, TPP will be dismantled, which suggests he expects it to be fully implemented if Hillary wins) is part of who she is. Yes, she voted against a trade deal once. Yes, she also had an affirmative role in a lot more trade deals. That’s a shitty record to run on in MI (and it will be a shitty record that Trump will hammer her on mercilessly if they end up being the nominees), but it is her record, part of the extensive experience that she points to as making her best qualified to be President.