Hillary Swipes At Obama On Trade ➠ But Keeps Own Stance Secret
Hillary Clinton said Sunday the problems that Congress has with President Obama’s trade agenda should be an opportunity for the president to ask fellow Democrats about their concerns with the proposal but still declined to say whether she supports or opposes the legislation.
“Let’s take the lemons and turn it into lemonade,” Clinton told about 600 supporters at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, addressing the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership trade proposal that has splintered Obama from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and rank-and-file Democrats.
The legislation would give the president “fast-track” authority to approve pending trade deals with 11 Pacific Rim nations. The measure also allows Congress to approve or reject such deals, but not amend them.
Courting Iowa voters, Clinton sought to address Democratic opponents of the trade legislation, including liberals and labor unions, who have said the Obama-backed plan will cost U.S. jobs. The agreement has not been finalized or submitted to Congress.
“The president should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with Nancy Pelosi, who had 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,” Clinton said. “And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal.”
The White House and Republican leaders in Congress now face long odds in trying to revive the trade legislation after congressional Democrats helped defeat a job retraining program to jeopardize Obama’s attempt to secure the fast-track authority.
Clinton appeared to be seeking a middle ground, saying while some support the deal and others vehemently oppose it, “I kind of fall in the group that says ‘what’s in it?’ And ‘let’s make it as good as it can be, and then let’s make a decision.’ ”
She said Obama had an “amazing opportunity” to negotiate better terms and reiterated the criteria of worker protections, wages and national security provisions she would seek in a final deal.
Clinton said any deal should include the scuttled Trade Adjustment Assistance program to help retrain workers.
Trade has emerged as an early divider within the Democratic primary.
Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was campaigning in Iowa on Sunday, has opposed the trade deal and questioned Clinton’s refusal to say where she stood. More