Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton broached criticism of an upcoming international trade deal Tuesday– one that she previously supported, and which President Barack Obama is already fighting labor unions over.
Speaking to students and teachers at New Hampshire Technical Institute, Hillary argued the country needs to focus more on domestic production and that any trade deal must be good for U.S. jobs and wages.
‘‘We need to build things, too,’’ Hillary said, according to The Associated Press. ‘‘We have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and skills to be competitive,’’ while getting back to ‘‘a much more focused effort, in my opinion, to try to produce those capacities here at home.’’
On Tuesday, possible primary opponent former Gov. Martin O’Malley released a campaign-style video slamming the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which as secretary of state, Clinton helped negotiate. “I’m against bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” O’Malley narrates during the 30-second ad.
After negotiating the trade deal, Clinton supported it globally. “This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field,” she said at a 2012 speech in Australia. “And when negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world’s total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment.”
The criticisms also echo concerns from organized labor towards the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has been negotiated in secret between the White House and various Pacific nations. Unions, and many others on the left, fear the deal will not include adequate provisions to protect American workers.
Though her campaign has previously said she would closely watch how the deals progresses, her recent comments are the first while on the campaign trail. For the most part, unions play a critical role for Democrats during elections and Hillary is likely to help her campaign down the road by distancing herself from the president on international trade.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid also slammed the deal Tuesday, saying, “I have never, ever in my 33 years in Congress ever supported — ever supported — a trade agreement. I’m not going to start now. They’re not good for the American people. They’re not good for working men and women. It puts us at a disadvantage.” (VIDEO: Harry Reid On Obama’s Trade Bill Push: ‘Not Only No, But Hell No’)
The White House, however, has defended its position by arguing the trade deal will help American workers.
“I was encouraged by the support of many leaders here for the WTO Trade Facilitation agreement, which would boost regional trade, and for the Trans–Pacific Partnership, with its high standards for trade and strong protections for workers and the environment,” the president said during a recent summit in Panama.
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