Hillary Clinton Comes Out Against TPP

She criticized the trade agreement on Wednesday, saying there are too many "unanswered questions."

10/07/2015 04:06 pm ET | Updated Oct 07, 2015
  • Amanda Terkel Senior Political Reporter, The Huffington Post
  • Zach Carter Senior Political Economy Reporter, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Wednesday, breaking with President Barack Obama on the 12-nation trade deal that is set to become a key part of his legacy.

"As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it," Clinton told Judy Woodruff of "PBS Newshour."

"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's the high bar we have to meet," she said. "I have been trying to learn as much as I can about the agreement. But I'm worried. I'm worried about currency manipulation not being part of the agreement. We've lost American jobs to the manipulations that countries, particularly in Asia, have engaged in. I'm worried the pharmaceutical companies may have gotten more benefits -- and patients and consumers fewer. I think there are still a lot of unanswered questions."

Progressives have been pushing Clinton for months to take a position on TPP, since Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), two of her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, came out against it long ago.

O'Malley criticized Clinton for her foot-dragging shortly after the news broke while speaking with reporters at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute conference.

"I was against the Trans-Pacific Partnership months and months ago," he said. "I believe we need to stop stumbling backwards into bad trade deals."

Sanders, speaking at the same conference, said he "will let the media speculate on" whether Clinton would have taken this stance if he weren't in the race. 

"All I can tell you, whether it is the Keystone Pipeline, whether it is TPP, these are issues that I have had a very strong opinion on from day one," he said. "And I can simply say I am delighted that Secretary Clinton is on board ... to be very frank with you, it would have been more helpful to have her on board a few months ago."

Clinton has said she was waiting to see the final deal before making a decision. In her most recent book, Hard Choices, she spoke out against a key provision of the deal known as "Investor-State Dispute Settlement." That program allows corporations to challenge domestic laws and regulations before an international tribunal.

"[W]e've learned a lot about trade agreements in the past years. Sometimes they look great on paper," she said Wednesday. "I know when President Obama came into office, he inherited a trade agreement with South Korea. I, along with other members of the Cabinet, pushed hard to get a better agreement. We think we made improvements. Now, looking back on it, it doesn't have the results we thought it would have, in terms of access to the markets, more exports, etc."

Organized labor, environmental groups and public health experts all strongly oppose the agreement, arguing that it will empower corporate deregulation and send jobs to low-wage countries with poor human rights records, including Vietnam and Malaysia. Doctors Without Borders and other groups maintain that the multiyear monopolies that the deal would grant to pharmaceutical companies will drive up the price of life-saving medicine.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other corporate lobbying groups, meanwhile, strongly support TPP, saying it will boost U.S. exports.

Elise Foley contributed reporting.

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