(CNN)Hillary Clinton came out against the Trans Pacific Partnership in an interview Wednesday, breaking with President Barack Obama and his administration, which has forcefully promoted the deal.
[Reposted from CNN | Dan Merica and Eric Bradner | October 7, 2015]
Clinton told PBS’ Judy Woodruff Wednesday in Iowa that, “As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it.”
The former secretary of state cited the “high bar” she set earlier in the year as the reason she was giving the deal a thumbs down.
“I have said from the very beginning that we had to have a trade agreement that would create good American jobs, raise wages and advance our national security and I still believe that is the high bar we have to meet” Clinton said, adding later, “I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set.”
Clinton’s position on the massive 12-nation trade deal that is a staple of the Obama administration’s foreign policy in the region has been a festering question ever since the former secretary of state launched her bid for the White House.
Clinton’s staff gave the White House a heads-up about her decision before going public, a White House official told CNN.
Clinton told reporters earlier this year that she did not want to comment on the trade deal until it was finalized, something that happened earlier this month.
As secretary of state, Clinton actively advocated for the TPP. In fact, she did so 45 times between 2010 and 2013.
In July, Clinton told CNN that she never worked directly on the deal.
“I did not work on TPP,” Clinton said Thursday. “I advocated for a multi-national trade agreement that would ‘be the gold standard.’ But that was the responsibility of the United States trade representative.”
While technically true — Clinton’s State Department was not the lead negotiator on the deal — the former secretary of state regularly trumped up trade deals, including what would become the TPP.
“We need to keep upping our game both bilaterally and with partners across the region through agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP,” Clinton said during a 2012 trip to Australia. “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.”
While Clinton has not outright come out against the Trans Pacific Partnership until today, she had signaled over the summer that she was worried about the deal.
‘”There are some specifics in there that could and should be changed,” Clinton said of the Pacific Rim pact at a June press conference in Iowa. “So I am hoping that’s what happens now — let’s take the lemons and turn it into lemonade.”
On Wednesday, Clinton argued that those lemons had not, in fact, been turned into lemonade.
“For me, it really comes down to those three points that I made and the fact that we have learned a lot about trade agreements in the past years,” Clinton said. “Sometimes they look great on paper.”
Clinton specifically cited currency manipulation enforcement, benefits for pharmaceutical companies and impacts on American workers as the reasons she was disapproving the deal.
It’s also a departure from the Clinton legacy: It was President Bill Clinton who, two decades ago, signed the first mega-regional pact: the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership was sold by the Obama administration as a way to right NAFTA’s mistakes — particularly by adding chapters requiring improved labor conditions and implementing environmental standards in the countries involved in the deal.
It was also the economic underpinning of the so-called “pivot to Asia” that Clinton had championed as America’s top diplomat.
But the deal is strongly opposed by liberals — particularly labor unions that fear it would cause the United States to bleed more jobs and wages to countries that pay workers less.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has highlighted his opposition to the deal on the Democratic presidential campaign trail. And a liberal icon, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, has hammered its inclusion — like most other trade deals — of a provision that would allow companies to challenge whether countries’ laws and regulations live up to their international trade commitments.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, her Democratic rival in the presidential race who came out against the TPP earlier this year, quickly blasted Clinton’s comments.
“Wow, that’s a reversal,” he said in Washington, D.C. “I believe we need to stop stumbling backwards into bad trade deals and Secretary Clinton can justify her own reversal of opinion on this, but I can tell you that I didn’t have one opinion eight months ago and switch that opinion on the eve of debates.”