Obama Says Elizabeth Warren Is 'Wrong' on TPP Trade Agreement; Clinton Fails to Say Yes or No
Since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, trade has been a contentious issue for the Democratic Party, with business-friendly elites pitted against the party's labor constituency.
The United States is currently working with 11 countries to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Although the U.S. already trades heavily with all of the countries included, the TPP would expand various corporate rights in a way that could threaten the environment and health and labor standards, as well as expand corporate IP rights.
One of the TPP's main opponents is Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who has become a sort of watchdog for the middle class. Warren has blasted the secrecy of the negotiations over the agreement, saying that “if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.”
Yesterday, President Obama took his strongest stand yet in defending the agreement from Warren and other progressive critics, during an appearance on MSNBC: "I love Elizabeth. We're allies on a whole host of issues, but she's wrong on this. ...When you hear folks make a lot of suggestions about how bad this trade deal is, when you dig into the facts, they are wrong."
Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton has failed to say whether she is in favor of or opposed to the agreement or the “Fast Track” authority Obama has requested to speed up its approval. “Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security,” she said on the campaign trail, without specifically saying whether she thinks this deal meets that test. Her New Hampshire co-chair said he does not know where she stands on the agreement.
There are, however, signs that the Democratic base's revolt against the agreement is impacting presidential politics. Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has come out against it, and so has Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Both are considering bids for the presidency. O'Malley as governor was actually in favor of the agreement; his change on the issue is evidence that the Warren wing of the Democratic Party is becoming influential enough to shift those who want their votes.