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Clinton’s Unveiled Plans For Workers And Trade Conflict With Her Record

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign sounds more and more like Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign every day, especially when it comes to speeches on jobs, wages, and the economy. She also continues to make pledges, which conflict with the very corporate and special interests funding her campaign.

The co-opting of Sanders’ message is not merely a sign that the Vermont senator’s message is winning. It is a calculated effort to prevent Sanders from regaining momentum in the 2016 Election, and the corporate executives, which support her hope she is able to successfully stifle an insurgency to prevent any threats to their power.

During a speech at the Detroit Manufacturing Systems factory in Michigan, Clinton outlined her plans for workers and the economy. It put the focus on casino capitalism, which Sanders has aggressively denounced in the election.

“Part of the problem is a casino culture on Wall Street that for too long puts short-term speculation ahead of long-term strength and asks taxpayers to hold the bag when the bets go bad,” Clinton declared. “We need to make sure Wall Street never threatens Main Street ever again. As I have said many times, no bank can be too big to fail and no executive to powerful to jail.”

She co-opts Sanders’ rhetoric on Wall Street and wealth inequality while at the same time refusing to release transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. These are speeches in which she was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to talk to them. One would like to know if she promised big banks anything that might be put on the table if she is elected president.

This rhetoric is disingenuous and opportunistic, given the manner in which Clinton has attacked Sanders for his focus on Wall Street by smearing him as a “single-issue candidate.”

Clinton denigrated Sanders by shouting, “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow, would that end racism? Would that end sexism? Would that end discrimination against the LGBT community?” And, “Would that make people feel more welcoming to immigrants overnight?” Of course, this is about as reasonable as criticizing a candidate’s plan for tackling climate change by complaining it won’t raise the minimum wage.

Clinton addressed the issue of free trade and claimed once again that she does not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

“When it comes to trade deals, here’s my standard. I won’t support any agreement unless it helps create good jobs and higher wages for American workers and protects our national security,” Clinton stated. “I need to be able to look into the eyes of any hard-working American anywhere in our country and say this deal will help raise your income. That’s why I voted against the last big multinational trade deal called [the Central American Free Trade Agreement]. It’s why I don’t support the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.”

There are numerous reasons to doubt whether this opposition is genuine. From 2010 to 2013, as CNN documented, she pushed the trade deal at least 45 times, particularly when she was Secretary of State.

Statements Clinton made included:

TPP will lower barriers, raise standards, and drive long-term growth across the region. It will cover 40 percent of the world’s total trade and establish strong protections for workers and the environment. Better jobs with higher wages and safer working conditions, including for women, migrant workers and others too often in the past excluded from the formal economy will help build Asia’s middle class and rebalance the global economy


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. 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.


We’ve also made workers rights a centerpiece of a new far-reaching trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We are working with Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and others in these negotiations

Clinton announced opposition to the TPP in October, saying she did not think it could meet the high bar of creating “good American jobs, raise wages, and advance our national security.” From 2010 to 2013, it was apparently on track to meet that “high bar.” She was in a position to know exactly what was being discussed in negotiations. And, if we are to believe Clinton, the TPP negotiations veered suddenly in a direction that was bad for working Americans in 2014, after she wrote her memoir on her work as Secretary of State and still believed the TPP was a solid trade agreement.

Tom Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has insisted Clinton will support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal if nominated for president and elected. He believes she only opposes the deal because Sanders has opposed the deal. “If she were to get nominated, if she were to be elected, I have a hunch that what runs in the family is you get a little practical if you ever get the job,” Donohue said on January 20 in a Bloomberg TV interview.

As International Business Times’ David Sirota detailed, “In 2007, she declared her opposition to a proposed free trade agreement with South Korea, citing concerns about the deal’s effects on the domestic manufacturing sector.” She told AFL-CIO it would hurt the U.S. auto industry and “cost us good middle class jobs.” A few years later, she personally pushed for the passage of this trade deal and indeed it is estimated that the deal has cost America about 75,000 U.S. jobs, particularly in manufacturing.

Sirota and Sarah Berger also reported on emails from the State Department, which showed Clinton pushing the Colombia free trade agreement. Just as described by Sirota, Clinton said she opposed the deal during her campaign for president in 2008 because she was “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.”

Clinton later reversed her position and lobbied Democrats to support the deal, even going so far as to claim the deal would likely offer Colombian workers the same or better rights than workers in Wisconsin, Indiana, or even Michigan.

Also, during her speech about jobs and the economy, Clinton said nothing about the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which she helped President Bill Clinton push when she was First Lady.

The Sanders campaign blasted Clinton as “outsourcer-in-chief” and asserted, “NAFTA cost 850,000 U.S. jobs. 43,000 jobs alone in Michigan. 35,000 jobs in Ohio. 35,000 in Illinois.” She supported “Permanent Normalized Trade Relations with China. That deal cost the country 3.2 million jobs.”

“The free trade agreement with Panama? Guess what, Hillary Clinton supported that one too,” the Sanders campaign added. She has failed to inform supporters that her support for “job-killing trade deals” has “contributed to the loss of nearly 60,000 factories in the United States and almost 5 million manufacturing jobs over the last 15 years.”

Omitting her husband’s role and her role in supporting free trade policies, which have devastated workers, she criticized Nabisco for “laying off 600 workers in Chicago and moving their production line to Mexico, even though the company has long received tax breaks from the state of Illinois. They have no problem taking taxpayer dollars with one hand and giving out pink slips with the other.”

The statement came two days after the chairman of Labor for Sanders showed up on the southwest side of Chicago to join a protest against Nabisco and call Nabisco’s plans an “all-too-typical story about greed.”

Hillary Clinton talked about the need for corporations or manufacturing companies to raise their wages on their own. She also mentioned raising the federal minimum wage but would not specify an amount.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has spearheaded a campaign to raise wages to $15 per hour for workers, supports Clinton. One of its chapters in Nevada circulated literature, which falsely claimed Clinton supported a $15 hourly wage for workers. Clinton only has backed raising wages to $12 per hour, while Sanders has endorsed raising wages to $15 per hour for workers.

Clinton criticized companies, which engage in what are sometimes referred to as “inversions.” She made a quip about preferring to call these “perversions.” According to Clinton, an “inversion” happens when one company pretends to sell itself and move its headquarters overseas. She said she would tax  such corporations.

David Sirota and Andrew Perez previously reported that one of her biggest campaign fundraisers is Warren Buffett, whose investment conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, “helped finance Burger King’s high-profile move to relocate itself to Canada and avoid U.S. taxes” in 2014. “One left-leaning watchdog group, Americans for Tax Fairness, estimated that the inversion would allow the company to dodge between $400 million and $1.2 billion in U.S. taxes over the next few years.”

Clinton’s campaign is very fond of attacking Sanders for promoting so-called fantasies for fixing serious problems in the United States. Her campaign regularly pushes its own fantasy: that she can accept thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars from corporate and special interests and their money will not influence her policies in ways detrimental to lower and middle class Americans. Her proponents believe she can take infinite amounts of dollars to make her victory possible and her character is so sterling she will not bend to their wishes, even though that completely defies the laws of politics in Washington.

Despite Clinton’s record and the influence corporations and corporate executives are buying by funding her campaign, she is masterfully wielding her name brand and position within the Democratic Party to maintain support among the leadership of influential labor unions. Those unions are putting all of their members in positions, where they are almost coerced into supporting Clinton or discouraged from campaigning for either Democratic presidential candidate in the election.

Of course, there are 35 states left in the Democratic primary. But how much can Sanders expect working voters to defy the leadership of their unions? Even if these individuals fully support all the strong positions being taken by Bernie Sanders’ campaign, they are caught within a Democratic Party machine intent on delivering the nomination to Clinton.


UPDATE – 10:20 ET: Bernie Sanders released a scathing rebuttal to Hillary Clinton’s jobs speech.

“The American people are sick and tired of establishment politicians who promise to create manufacturing jobs during campaign season, but support trade policies that make it easier to outsource these jobs the day after they get elected,” Sanders declared.

Read all of it here: PDF.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz at Netroots Nation 2011 (Marta Evry on Flickr)
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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."