When it comes to international trade, there has been a lot of misleading and unfair statements put forth about America’s Trade Policy and the relative value and results of our international trade agreements.
FACT: NAFTA was a boon to the US Stock Market
Much has been made about the idea that NAFTA was a “disaster” for America, and opponents have criticised Hillary for her support of NAFTA as well as other trade deals. But the fact is that NAFTA succeeded in ushering in a new era of American prosperity:
The plain and simple truth is that the stock market literally took off in the period following NAFTA. American companies did phenomenally well, stock values soared, and everyone’s retirement pensions and 401(k) plans increased in value. NAFTA helped bring prosperity to the American economy, and much of Bill Clinton’s economic “miracle” is due to an enlightened trade policy that brought about a boom in corporate profits.
Trump Condemns NAFTA, Democrats Should Not.
Sadly, Donald Trump is not alone in his criticism of NAFTA and the other trade deals that Hillary has supported over the years. Bernie Sanders has also been critical of Hillary for her trade positions. Trump and Sanders would have us believe that trade deals “destroyed the American middle class,” when in fact these deals helped the middle class by creating new business opportunities and increasing the value of our Wall Street investments.
We as Democrats must stand up against anti-trade isolationism and their besmirching of the economic legacy of one of our greatest Democratic Presidents.
Hillary’s Principled Trade Policies
Hillary Clinton has an approach to trade that is at once both more nuanced and more selective than those of her opponents. She did, for example, oppose CAFTA because she wanted to deny Fast-Track authority to the Bush Administration and she felt that American jobs were not well-enough protected.
Hillary also supported Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, which ended up being the crown jewel and a sort of bookend trade deal of her husband’s administration. This deal has allowed America and US companies maintain a premier trading position globally, and has the added bonus of having earned the enthusiastic bipartisan support of both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
The Truth about the TPP
Hillary has also been criticised about her positions on the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP. While Secretary of State, Hillary did indeed promote what she believed and hoped would be “the gold standard” of trade deals, and she honestly hoped she would be able to support the pact.
Unlike her opponents, Hillary Clinton is willing to judge the deal on its merits, and she has not “closed the door” on supporting the TPP. Indeed, Clinton told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: “I’m against it now, but we’ll see whether there is any kind of significant changes … I mean, if Congress adopted my … proposals” as President, she would be able to support TPP.
But let’s keep it real about the TPP: This deal is strongly supported not only by President Obama, but also by many Democrats, including the New Democrat Coalition in Congress. America needs to be leading in trade issues globally, and passage of the TPP is a way to ensure that American exporters continue to lead the way in opening up new markets around the world.
Hillary Understands the need for the Export-Import Bank
Hillary also understands that to compete globally, America cannot afford isolationist policies when it comes to offering government assistance to our exporters. Senator Sanders has opposed the funding of the Export-Import bank, which provides valuable funding to such iconic American companies as Boeing, who competes globally not just in the areas of civil aviation but also in defense systems and services. Having access to public financing allows Boeing to compete against state-assisted competitors such as Airbus. The Bank also helps other American companies such as General Electric, Boeing and Bechtel.
The “Ex-Im Bank” enjoys significant support among moderate Democrats including the New Democrat Coalition, which joined forces with Republicans on a bipartisan basis to successfully lead the fight in Congress to re-authorise the Bank in 2014. Hillary is proud to have supported this legislation, which will guarantee that companies like Boeing get the government assistance they need to operate profitably in a competitive global marketplace.
Hillary Supports American Business Abroad
Under Hillary’s leadership, the State Department worked closely with energy companies such as Chevron to spread new types of energy extraction methods such as hydraulic fracturing (fracking) around the globe. This was part of a broader push to fight climate change through the use of shale gas, as well as to increase global energy supply. This strategy also had the added benefit of reining in countries such as Russia that use their energy resources as both a carrot and a stick in international affairs.
In late 2011, Hillary launched the new Bureau of Energy Resources, with the promise to instruct US embassies around the globe to step up their work on energy issues and "pursue more outreach to private-sector energy" firms, many of which have proved generous donors to our Democratic campaigns, including the campaigns of both Hillary and Barack Obama.
Hillary explained the important ties between energy and foreign policy in a speech in Georgetown in 2012:
“Energy matters to America’s foreign policy for three fundamental reasons. First, it rests at the core of geopolitics, because fundamentally, energy is an issue of wealth and power, which means it can be both a source of conflict and cooperation. The United States has an interest in resolving disputes over energy, keeping energy supplies and markets stable through all manner of global crises, ensuring that countries don’t use their energy resources or proximity to shipping routes to force others to bend to their will or forgive their bad behavior, and above all, making sure that the American people’s access to energy is secure, reliable, affordable, and sustainable.”
Indeed, the importance of Hillary’s energy initiative cannot be underestimated. The Obama administration has lately been pressing Eastern European countries to fast-track their fracking initiatives so as to be less dependent on Russia. During an April visit to Ukraine, which has granted concessions to Chevron, Vice President Joe Biden announced that the United States would bring in technical experts to speed up its shale gas development. "We stand ready to assist you," promised Biden, whose son Hunter now serves on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company.
A President Hillary Clinton will get things done on Trade
As I mentioned above, Hillary will urge Congress to adopt some of her suggestions on the TPP in order to make it a deal that she can support, and I have every confidence that she will be able to support this important trade deal as President.
Moreover, a Clinton Administration will continue to subsidise and support our energy companies such as Chevron and our extraction experts such as Halliburton in their efforts to expand fossil fuel production around the globe.
In the end, Hillary gets it – she understands the way the world works and the need for America to play a leading role in that world. She practices Realpolitik, which today means protecting America’s unique global position by securing the most profitable and successful business conditions for American corporations worldwide.
Who would do better on Trade?
Who would do better on Trade?
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