In a craven attempt to win votes from autoworkers in Michigan, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton misrepresented Senator Bernie Sanders’ position on the government bailout of the automotive industry. The smear, that Sanders opposed the auto bailouts, was quickly debunked by local and national media and may have ultimately cost Clinton the primary.
The reality is that Senator Sanders had supported bailing out the auto industry but had opposed the bank bailout bill known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which included some auto industry assistance – something Hillary Clinton obviously knew.
But while the attack was intended to push auto workers away from Sanders, might it have done the opposite?
UAW liked Bernie on trade to begin with, then was backlash to Hillary portraying him as anti auto-bailout. Got UAW folks very revved up.
— Noam Scheiber (@noamscheiber) March 9, 2016
The United Auto Workers (UAW) apparently did not appreciate the smear, or Clinton’s support for free trade agreements like NAFTA or China’s most favored nation status. NAFTA is estimated to have cost the US a million jobs, while more and more economists are recognizing trade with China was a bad deal for the American middle class.
As secretary of state Hillary Clinton promoted controversial trade deals like Colombia and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Clinton supported until very recently, calling it the “gold standard.”
The backlash to Clinton’s Sanders attack appears to have been more from members than leadership, which has been a trend throughout the primary. Sanders more often gets union endorsements when members decide; Hillary more often gets them when leaders decide.
Beyond the issue of the bailout itself is the larger narrative that Clinton’s dishonest attack played into: that Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted. As a piece at The Huffington Post noted, Hillary Clinton’s honesty problem was likely exacerbated by her misleading attack on Sanders and the auto bailout.
Hillary Clinton is reportedly looking to rewrite her economic positions (again), but it seems as though voters believe her less and less no matter what she says.