Presidential candidate Secretary Hillary Clinton has a dilemma when it comes to taking a position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. On one hand, the Democratic base is passionately opposed to the deal, and on the other hand her key campaign funders, i.e., Wall Street and other corporate multimillionaires and billionaires, want this international, corporate coup des lois passed in Congress. She will need both to win the nomination and the general election. The question is, who will she lie to?
Washington Post editorial writer, Stephen Stromberg, lambasted Clinton for her cowardice on the topic. “I’ve been very clear on this,” Clinton initially replied when asked about her position on this rigged, regulatory regime and added, “I have said I want to judge the final agreement. I have been for trade agreements. I have been against trade agreements.” That’s clear as mud. This waffling merits Stromberg’s criticism of her “cowardice.”
Certainly, she has the security clearance to go the the trade representative’s office and read the most recent draft of the TPP. For Americans, who support democratic self-government and oppose mafia-like “justice,” this is not complicated. The TPP will undermine American sovereignty along a wide range of regulatory matters and expand the corporate-state dispute settlement system that transcends our national system of justice. She cannot be undecided about what the informed public already knows about this proposed international, regulatory regime as a consequence of the four chapters (Intellectual Property, ISDS, Regulatory Coherence and Environment) published by Wikileaks and Citizens Trade.
She could take a lesson from the Obama campaign and lie to the American voters. In 2008 Obama promised to “renegotiate NAFTA” and threatened to pull the United States out of the regional “trade” agreement if Canada and Mexico did not cave to his demands. That, of course, turned out to be complete bulls**t. Stromberg explained in his column: “Sophisticated observers at the time assumed that Obama and Clinton weren’t being honest about their intentions…These assumptions were all but confirmed when word came that Austan Goolsbee, at the time a top Obama economic adviser, assured the Canadian government that Obama’s anti-trade positioning was more about politics than an indication of what he would do in the White House. The Obama campaign aggressively denied the claims, but a leaked Canadian government memo subsequently indicated something like that nevertheless happened.”
This time, Hillary Clinton will have to be more careful. If she is caught lying to voters, it could cost her the Democratic nomination. Any assurances to her wealthy campaign funders would have to be kept off the record and whispered to trusted supporters in closed rooms with all possible recording devices like cell phones removed from participants. Somehow, Secretary Clinton will have to deceive the voting public. It worked for Senator Obama; count on dishonesty from Hillary Clinton in the weeks and months ahead on the subject of “free trade.” Even that phrase is dishonest when applied to the TPP. The final questions, then, are: will she get caught in her necessary lie, and will enough cynical voters care enough to matter if she does get caught lying?
Obama’s supporters didn’t care he was deceiving them in 2008. Most people are not that interested in trade issues, so the money here is on Secretary Clinton eventually coming out in opposition to the TPP while secretly supporting it. Deception worked for Obama in 2008. In all likelihood, it will work well enough for Clinton in 2016 to secure the nomination of her party.
At least when Senator Sanders states his opposition to the TPP, it’s clear he’s being honest about it.
Update, 6/16/2015: CNN has reported that Hillary Clinton has spoken in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership 45 times before she ran for president this year. In Iowa Sunday, Secretary Clinton said, “the President should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers, to make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible. And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal.”
Update, 6/20/2015: See Salon’s “Hillary’s lame “stand” on TPP: Good things are good, and bad things are bad!”