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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Trade, Inequality, and Politics

Here is one more illustration of the gap between the expectations of 2008 and the realities of the Obama Administration.  At The Daily Beast, Lloyd Green writes that President Obama will seek Trade Promotion Authority.
Without Republican crossover votes TPA is as good as dead. On the Democratic side of the ledger antipathy towards free trade is presumed and, by now, historic. It is pretty much baked into the Democrats’ DNA. For instance, in 1993 President Clinton was forced to work in tandem with congressional Republicans to secure passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because a majority of congressional Democrats opposed its enactment.

Fast forward to the 2008 Democratic primaries, where Obama expressed his hostility to NAFTA because it favored Wall Street over Main Street—his words, not mine. In a debate held in the pivotal rust-belt swing state of Ohio and hosted by MSNBC, Obama announced that NAFTA “did not have the labor standards and environmental standards that were required in order to not just be good for Wall Street but also be good for Main Street.” For good measure, Obama added that, “I will make sure that we renegotiate, in the same way that Senator Clinton talked about.”
Did Obama really believe what he was saying? Well, while the candidate was decrying NAFTA in front of the cameras, Austan Goolsbee, Obama’s senior economic policy adviser, was secretly offering verbal succor to Canadian diplomats. According to Joseph De Mora, a Canadian political and economic affairs consular officer, Goolsbee admitted that Obama’s stated position was “more reflective of political maneuvering than policy.”
Suffice to say, NAFTA hasn’t been renegotiated. Suffice to say, details of the now-pending trade deals were being hammered out with Obama in the White House and Hillary Rodham Clinton ensconced in Foggy Bottom.