Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future
The candidates discussed "trade" for a few minutes during the first presidential debate on Monday. Once again the opportunity for a meaningful dialogue on an important issue slipped away. Where do we go from here?
That was the subject of a teleconference Wednesday night between activists from around the country and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). The call was titled "Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership: bad for workers, bad for democracy, bad for People and the Planet."
On the call, Sen. Merkley said that we have to "stop this gigantic trade deal, we have to stop it dead in its tracks."
Merkley said to the activists on the call that they "have to be incredibly attentive during this period," because even though the TPP is now opposed by top congressional leadership as well as both major presidential candidates, the tremendous pressure from multinational corporations on Congress could change that and tilt key members toward passage.
"We have to have a force inside the Congress and a grassroots force outside creating pressure and you all are that outside grassroots force. Because it is only with that attention and pressure that the swing votes will move," he said.
Trump On Trade
Republican candidate Donald Trump senses opportunity in the despair of millions of blue-collar workers who have either lost jobs, seen their wages cut or seen no wage increase in decades thanks to our country's "trade" policies. So even as he describes himself as a "free-trader," he tells blue-collar audiences that he opposes our free-trade deals.
The following summary of Trump's statements on trade during Monday's debate skips around a bit, because Trump did.
During the debate Trump said that "jobs are fleeing the country," and "they're all leaving" because "we don't know what we're doing when it comes to devaluations and all of these countries all over the world, especially China. They're the best, the best ever at it. What they're doing to us is a very, very sad thing."
Some time later, he said, "You go to New England, you go to Ohio, Pennsylvania, you go anywhere you want, Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and you will see devastation where manufacture is down 30, 40, sometimes 50 percent. NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country." (In fact, most of these job losses are the result of "trade" with China, not NAFTA.)
On Clinton's trade positions, he said, "She's been doing this for 30 years. And why hasn't she made the agreements better? The NAFTA agreement is defective," and, "she's been doing this for 30 years. And why hasn't she made the agreements better?" (In fact, Clinton became a senator in 2000, which was 16 years ago, not 30.)
"And now you want to approve Trans-Pacific Partnership. You were totally in favor of it. Then you heard what I was saying, how bad it is, and you said, I can't win that debate. But you know that if you did win, you would approve that, and that will be almost as bad as NAFTA. Nothing will ever top NAFTA." (In fact Clinton opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In fact, TPP tops NAFTA for potential to harm jobs, wages and our economy.)
He also said, "Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry." (In fact, Clinton's predecessor George H.W. Bush signed NAFTA. Bill Clinton pushed for Congressional approval and it was approved in the House with support from 132 Republicans and 102 Democrats and in the Senate from 34 Republicans and 27 Democrats. Clinton signed this ratification, not the treaty.)
Trump said his solution to the trade problems is, "I'll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies." He also promised to "renegotiate our trade deals, and we have to stop these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs." (In fact, corporate tax rates have nothing to do with trade deals.)