Under intense pressure from opponents in the 2008 presidential race and a building national fair trade movement, Sen. Hillary Clinton tonight finally disclosed her position on a Bush administration-backed bill to expand the NAFTA trade model that passed the U.S. House today and is now moving to the U.S. Senate. Reuters is reporting that Clinton says she will vote for the Peru Free Trade Agreement - the first agreement in a package of corporate-crafted agreements to vastly expand the NAFTA trade model.
Clinton is citing the Peru deal's labor standards as justification for her support, despite the fact that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has told reporters it has received "assurances" that those labor standards are "unenforceable," and despite a Columbia University report showing how the Peru deal could actually weaken labor law enforcement.
The announcement, which flies in the face of polls showing the public strongly opposed to NAFTA-style trade policies, comes on the same day the New York Times reports that Clinton is being endorsed by NAFTA architect Robert Rubin, the CEO of Citigroup - a company that stands to reap financial rewards from the NAFTA model. Rubin's announcement came with a promise to raise Clinton more money from Wall Street.
This announcement could change the dynamics of the presidential race, considering recent headline-grabbing plant closings in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and considering the NAFTA expansion was opposed by two out of Iowa's three Democratic House Members, and both of New Hampshire's.
As my nationally syndicated newspaper column out tomorrow details, trade and globalization is taking center stage in the 2008 presidential campaign. Clinton's announcement will now specifically make job-killing, wage-destroying NAFTA-style trade policy a flashpoint in the race for the White House.
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