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Hillary Clinton on Free Trade

Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY)


Have a trade prosecutor to enforce the trade agreements

Q: What would you do differently than a Pres. Obama would when it comes to the economy?

A: I would agree with Obama a lot, because it is the Democratic agenda. We are going to rid the tax code of these loopholes & giveaways. We’re going to stop giving penny of your money to anybody who ships a job out to another country. We’re going to begin to get the tax code to reflect what the needs of middle class families are so we can rebuild a strong & prosperous middle class. The wealthy & the well-connected have had a president the last 7 years, and it’s time that the rest of the US had a president to work for you every single day. We will have a different approach toward trade. We’re going to start having trade agreements that not only have strong environmental and labor standards, but also a trade time-out. We’re going to look and see what’s working & what’s not working. I’d like to have a trade prosecutor to actually enforce the trade agreements that we have before we enter into any others.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin , Feb 21, 2008

AdWatch: Supported NAFTA in 1998; opposed CAFTA since 2005

Obama released a radio ad in S.C., in which the narrator says, “Hillary Clinton championed NAFTA even though it has cost South Carolina thousands of jobs. It’s what’s wrong with politics today. Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected.”

The ad’s claim that Clinton “championed NAFTA” is misleading. It is true that Clinton once praised the North American Free Trade Agreement that her husband championed. As recently as 1998, she praised business leaders for mounting “a very effective business effort in the U.S. on behalf of NAFTA.“

But her position on trade shifted before her presidential run: In 2005, for example, she voted against the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and she told Time in 2007 that ”I believe in the general principles [NAFTA] represented, but what we have learned is that we have to drive a tougher bargain.“

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch on 2008 Clinton radio ad on Free Trade , Jan 24, 2008

Criticized trade pacts for weak labor standards

Now courting labor and the environmentalist crowd, Hillary Clinton has come out against a trade pact with South Korea, but as senator, she has voted in support of free trade pacts with Oman, Chile and Singapore, even though she criticized them for what she said was their weak enforcement of international labor standards. In fact, she’s voted for every trade agreement that has come before her except CAFTA, the Central American version of NAFTA, the pact the public has heard the most about.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 17 , Nov 11, 2007

FactCheck: for NAFTA while First Lady; now against CAFTA

Barack Obama accused Clinton of flip-flops on trade. Obama said, “Senator Clinton in her campaign has been for NAFTA previously, now she’s against it.”

Obama is partly right concerning the North American Free Trade Agreement. Clinton’s views on NAFTA have shifted, but they shifted prior to her official run for the White House. Back in 1998, in a keynote speech given at the Davos Economic Summit, Clinton praised business leaders for mounting “a very effective business effort in the US on behalf of NAFTA,“ adding later that ”it is certainly clear that we have not by any means finished the job that has begun.“ But by 2005 she was expressing reservations about free trade agreements, voting that year against the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). And she told Bloomberg News in March 2007 that, while she still believes in free trade, she supports a freeze on new trade agreements--something she calls ”a little time-out.“

Source: FactCheck on 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University , Oct 30, 2007

Export from big agribusiness, but also from small farmers

Q: How do you protect American jobs without setting up a situation where other countries discriminate against the things we’re trying to export, particularly agricultural exports?

A: We do export a lot of agricultural goods, many of that through trade agreements. And I think we’ve got to do three things.

  1. We have to have more focus on family farms. We’ve got to do more to make sure trade agreements are not only good for the exporting of agricultural products from great, big agribusiness, but also for small farmers.
  2. We’ve got to do more to build up the agricultural and rural areas of our country.
  3. And trade needs to become a win-win. People ask me, am I a free trader or a fair trader? I want to be a smart, pro-American trader. And that means we look for ways to maximize the impact of what we’re trying to export and quit being taken advantage of by other countries.
    Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

    Smart, pro-American trade: NAFTA has hurt workers

    This past weekend, you expressed some disappointment that NAFTA, in your words, did not realize the benefits that it promised. How would you fix it?

    A: Well, I had said that for many years, that NAFTA and the way it’s been implemented has hurt a lot of American workers. In fact, I did a study in New York looking at the impact of NAFTA on business people, workers and farmers who couldn’t get their products into Canada despite NAFTA. So, clearly we have to have a broad reform in how we approach trade. NAFTA’s a piece of it, but it’s not the only piece of it. I believe in smart trade. Pro-American trade. Trade that has labor and environmental standards, that’s not a race to the bottom but tries to lift up not only American workers but also workers around the world. It’s important that we enforce the agreements we have. That’s why I’ve called for a trade prosecutor, to make sure that we do enforce them. The Bush administration haven’t been enforcing the trade agreements at all.

    Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 7, 2007

    No fast-track authority for this president

    It’s important that we have good information to make judgments. And when I looked at some of the trade agreements that the Bush administration sent our way, I voted against CAFTA. I don’t want to give fast-track authority to this president.
    Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 7, 2007

    Better approach: real trade adjustment assistance

    We’ve got to have a better approach to trade around the world. And it’s important that we have an idea of how to maximize the benefits from the global economy while minimizing the impact on American workers. That includes things like real trade adjustment assistance and other support.
    Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 7, 2007

    End tax breaks for outsourcing jobs

    Q [to Sen. Gravel]: A lot of Americans are concerned with outsourcing of US jobs. What’s your solution?

    GRAVEL: Outsourcing is not the problem. What is the problem is our trade agreements that benefit the management & the shareholders.

    CLINTON: Well, outsourcing is a problem, and it’s one that I’ve dealt with as a senator from New York. I started an organization called New Jobs for New York to try to stand against the tide of outsourcing, particularly from upstate New York and from rural areas. We have to do several things: end the tax breaks that still exist in the tax code for outsourcing jobs, have trade agreements with enforceable labor and environmental standards, help Americans compete, which is something we haven’t taken seriously. 65% of kids do not go on to college. What are we doing to help them get prepared for the jobs that we could keep here that wouldn’t be outsourced--and find a new source of jobs, clean energy, global warming, would create millions of new jobs for Americans.

    Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University , Jun 28, 2007

    Defended outsourcing of US jobs to India

    In India, she defended American outsourcing of jobs--which benefits India enormously--and predicted that it would continue and grow. “Outsourcing will continue,” Mrs. Clinton said in New Delhi. “There is no way to legislate against reality... We are not in favor of putting up fences.” Hillary acknowledged the pressures to curb outsourcing: “I have to be frank,” she said. “People in my country are losing their jobs, and the US policymakers need to address this issue.”
    Source: Condi vs. Hillary, by Dick Morris, p.165 , Oct 11, 2005

    Globalization should not substitute for humanization

    As with any sweeping change in history, there are those who are great proponents of globalization, [and] there are others who are great opponents. The real challenge is not to engage in an argument, but to try better to understand the forces that are at work and to harness those forces on behalf of society. To ensure that globalization, however one defines it, is never a substitute for humanization, never a force for marginalization, and not an enemy of the values that have long shaped our society.
    Source: Remarks at The Sorbonne, Paris, France , Jun 17, 1999

    Supports MFN for China, despite concerns over human rights

    Clinton supported most favored nation trade status despite concerns about China’s human rights record. “We have to use our our moral and material strengths in ways that serve our evolving interests,” she said. “We have to ask ourselves what hope does the global market hold for the tens of millions of victims of child labor, or for the 100 million street children without homes or families whom I’ve seen everywhere from Brazil to Mongolia who are being left to fend for themselves.”
    Source: Dean Murphy, NY Times , Oct 20, 2000


    Hillary Clinton on Voting Record

    Though Bill supported it, Hillary opposed NAFTA

    Liberal Democrats, including Hillary, opposed NAFTA primarily because it could take jobs away from American workers.
    Source: For Love of Politics, by Sally Bedell smith, p.117 , Oct 23, 2007

    Voted against CAFTA despite Bill Clinton’s pushing NAFTA

    In June 2005, Hillary voted with the bulk of her party against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). While the vote smacked of hypocrisy for many Democratic senators, it was particularly so for Ms. Clinton, whose husband had staked his administration’s prestige on pushing NAFTA through Congress. Hillary also voted against giving the president the authority to submit trade agreements for fast-track approval--Bill Clinton pleaded with Congress annually, & in vain, for just such authority
    Source: Condi vs. Hillary, by Dick Morris, p. 85 , Oct 11, 2005

    Voted YES on free trade agreement with Oman.

    Vote on final passage of a bill to implement the United States-Oman Free Trade Agreement.
    Reference: United States-Oman Free Trade Agreement; Bill S. 3569 ; vote number 2006-190 on Jun 29, 2006

    Voted NO on implementing CAFTA for Central America free-trade.

    Approves the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States-Free Trade Agreement entered into on August 5, 2005, with the governments of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (CAFTA-DR), and the statement of administrative action proposed to implement the Agreement. Voting YES would:
    Reference: Central America Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act; Bill HR 3045 ; vote number 2005-209 on Jul 28, 2005

    Voted YES on establishing free trade between US & Singapore.

    Vote to pass a bill that would put into effect a trade agreement between the US and Singapore. The trade agreement would reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the US and Singapore. The agreement would remove tariffs on goods and duties on textiles, and open markets for services The agreement would also establish intellectual property, environmental and labor standards.
    Reference: US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act; Bill S.1417/HR 2739 ; vote number 2003-318 on Jul 31, 2003

    Voted YES on establishing free trade between the US and Chile.

    Vote to pass a bill that would put into effect a trade agreement between the US and Chile. The agreement would reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the US and Chile. The trade pact would decrease duties and tariffs on agricultural and textile products. It would also open markets for services. The trade pact would establish intellectual property safeguards and would call for enforcement of environmental and labor standards.
    Reference: US-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act; Bill S.1416/HR 2738 ; vote number 2003-319 on Jul 31, 2003

    Voted NO on extending free trade to Andean nations.

    HR3009 Fast Track Trade Authority bill: To extend the Andean Trade Preference Act, to grant additional trade benefits under that Act, and for other purposes. Vote to pass a bill that would enlarge duty-free status to particular products from Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, renew the president's fast-track authority and reauthorize and increase a program to make accessible retraining and relocation assistance to U.S. workers hurt by trade agreements. It would also approve a five-year extension of Generalized System of Preferences and produce a refundable 70 percent tax credit for health insurance costs for displaced workers.
    Reference: Bill HR.3009 ; vote number 2002-130 on May 23, 2002

    Voted YES on granting normal trade relations status to Vietnam.

    Vote to grant annual normal trade relations status to Vietnam. The resolution would allow Vietnamese imports to receive the same tariffs as those of other U.S. trading partners.
    Reference: Bill HJRES51 ; vote number 2001-291 on Oct 3, 2001

    Voted YES on removing common goods from national security export rules.

    Vote to provide the president the authority to control the export of sensitive dual-use items for national security purposes. The bill would eliminate restrictions on the export of technology that is readily available in foreign markets.
    Reference: Bill S149 ; vote number 2001-275 on Sep 6, 2001

    Build a rule-based global trading system.

    Clinton adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

    Write New Rules for the Global Economy
    The rise of global markets has undermined the ability of national governments to control their own economies. The answer is neither global laissez faire nor protectionism but a Third Way: New international rules and institutions to ensure that globalization goes hand in hand with higher living standards, basic worker rights, and environmental protection. U.S. leadership is crucial in building a rules-based global trading system as well as international structures that enhance worker rights and the environment without killing trade. For example, instead of restricting trade, we should negotiate specific multilateral accords to deal with specific environmental threats.

    Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC1 on Aug 1, 2000

    Rated 17% by CATO, indicating a pro-fair trade voting record.

    Clinton scores 17% by CATO on senior issues

    The mission of the Cato Institute Center for Trade Policy Studies is to increase public understanding of the benefits of free trade and the costs of protectionism.

    The Cato Trade Center focuses not only on U.S. protectionism, but also on trade barriers around the world. Cato scholars examine how the negotiation of multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade agreements can reduce trade barriers and provide institutional support for open markets. Not all trade agreements, however, lead to genuine liberalization. In this regard, Trade Center studies scrutinize whether purportedly market-opening accords actually seek to dictate marketplace results, or increase bureaucratic interference in the economy as a condition of market access.

    Studies by Cato Trade Center scholars show that the United States is most effective in encouraging open markets abroad when it leads by example. The relative openness and consequent strength of the U.S. economy already lend powerful support to the worldwide trend toward embracing open markets. Consistent adherence by the United States to free trade principles would give this trend even greater momentum. Thus, Cato scholars have found that unilateral liberalization supports rather than undermines productive trade negotiations.

    Scholars at the Cato Trade Center aim at nothing less than changing the terms of the trade policy debate: away from the current mercantilist preoccupation with trade balances, and toward a recognition that open markets are their own reward.

    The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

    Source: CATO website 02n-CATO on Dec 31, 2002

    Extend trade restrictions on Burma to promote democracy.

    Clinton co-sponsored extending trade restrictions on Burma to promote democracy

    A joint resolution approving the renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003. The original act sanctioned the ruling military junta, and recognized the National League of Democracy as the legitimate representative of the Burmese people.

    Legislative Outcome: Related bills: H.J.RES.44, H.J.RES.93, S.J.RES.41; became Public Law 110-52.

    Source: S.J.RES.16 07-SJR16 on Jun 14, 2007

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    Page last updated: Mar 19, 2014