While Hillary Clinton won’t advocate for the TransPacific Partnership, she would likely revert to her true neoliberal colors if elected, as her choice of a vice presidential candidate made clear: “In the last week [July 10-16, 2016] alone, [Tim] Kaine is on the record as pushing for new rounds of Wall Street deregulation and voicing active support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement—both in direct contradiction to what grassroots progressives have been demanding.” Having flip-flopped (or “triangulated”), it’s an issue she really needs to and has tried to avoid:
Senior aides have since said that [Clinton] doesn’t need to take a position until the deal is finalized and the fine print can be analyzed. If she’s lucky, the House will reject Trade Promotion Authority for [Barack] Obama this week [effectively June 11-13, 2015], mooting TPP. But as it stands, the vast majority of House Democrats — and party activists — oppose the deal. If Clinton supports it, she’ll disappoint them and give more fuel to Sanders and O’Malley, both of whom oppose the pact. If she opposes it, she’ll have flip-flopped and turned her back on Obama.
“She avoided taking an unequivocal position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) even as the related debate over fast-track trade authority roiled Congress last month [June, 2015].” “Clinton repeatedly sidestepped her position on fast-track, mostly staying silent until the debate in Congress was nearly over.” However, she eventually yielded—or, more likely, pandered:
On Wednesday [October 7, 2015], Clinton came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, saying that she’s concerned with the provisions around pharmaceuticals and the absence of provisions around currency manipulation. But as Tim Lee notes, Clinton strongly supported early versions of the deal — she called the TPP “the gold standard in trade agreements” — that were worse on pharmaceuticals and identical on currency manipulation.
Again, the argument here isn’t that there aren’t reasons to oppose the TPP, but rather that knowing Clinton’s record, her advisers, and her past comments about the deal, it’s hard to believe Clinton really opposes the TPP deal.
Though Clinton talked up the treaty when she ran the State Department, she announced last week [on October 7, 2015] that the agreement doesn’t meet the “high bar I have set” for trade deals. Yet the TPP may well be off the docket by January 2017, when she would be inaugurated if elected president. Even if it’s not, she hasn’t adopted the anti-trade hyperbole of others in the race. This leaves her rhetorical space to favor a “modified” TPP or other future trade deals that, she can argue, do meet her standards. Moreover, she put off announcing her opposition until after Congress voted to give President Obama fast-track trade authority, reducing the likelihood that what she says will make any difference to the treaty’s final outcome.
Obama, by contrast, has nothing to lose. In the event (which at this point I think rather unlikely) he manages to get TPP passed, he’ll have relieved Clinton of responsibility for passing yet another disastrous trade pact.
John T. Bennett, “Despite Convention Jeers, Obama to Continue TPP,” Congressional Quarterly Roll Call, July 29, 2016, http://www.rollcall.com/news/despite-convention-jeers-obama-to-continue-trade-push
Yesim Dikmen and David Dolan, “Turkey culls nearly 1,400 from army, overhauls top military council,” Reuters, August 1, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-military-idUSKCN10B08G
Josh Mitchell, “Student-Loan Defaulters in a Standoff With Federal Government,” Wall Street Journal, August 1, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/student-loan-defaulters-in-a-standoff-with-federal-government-1470080970
- Alex Emmons, “Hillary Clinton Will Be Good for Business, Predicts Chamber of Commerce Lobbyist,” Intercept, July 29, 2016, https://theintercept.com/2016/07/29/hillary-clinton-will-be-good-for-business-predicts-chamber-of-commerce-lobbyist/; Annie Karni, “Clinton friend McAuliffe says Clinton will flip on TPP, then walks it back,” Politico, July 26, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/terry-mcauliffe-hillary-clinton-tpp-trade-226253; Timothy Scott, “War and Wall Street: Clinton’s Bleak Record,” Truthout, August 1, 2016, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37054-hillary-clinton-s-record-a-us-horror-story↩
- Jon Queally, “Clinton Inflames Progressive Base with Choice of Tim Kaine as Vice President,” Common Dreams, July 22, 2016, http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/07/22/clinton-inflames-progressive-base-choice-tim-kaine-vice-president↩
- Jonathan Allen, “The selective liberalism of Hillary Clinton,” Vox, June 10, 2015, http://www.vox.com/2015/6/10/8760287/Hillary-Clinton-selective-liberal-trust↩
- Niall Stanage, “Clinton’s habit of dodging key issues draws Democrats’ fire,” Hill, July 30, 2015, http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/249741-clintons-habit-of-dodging-key-issues-draws-democrats-fire↩
- Tim Devaney, “Labor unions hold back on endorsements for Hillary,” Hill, September 7, 2015, http://thehill.com/regulation/labor/252823-labor-unions-hold-back-on-endorsements-for-hillary↩
- Ezra Klein, “Why Clinton’s TPP opposition unnerves me,” Vox, October 8, 2015, http://www.vox.com/2015/10/8/9477965/hillary-clinton-tpp↩
- Stephen Stromberg, “How Hillary Clinton panders,” Washington Post, October 11, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2015/10/11/how-hillary-clinton-panders/↩