Shortly after delivering a speech at the Democratic convention, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of Hillary Clinton, told Politico reporter Annie Karni that he believes Clinton will not oppose the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a pact that critics say will harm workers and the environment and grant unprecedented power to large corporations.
“I worry that if we don’t do TPP, at some point China’s going to break the rules — but Hillary understands this,” McAuliffe said to Karni. “Once the election’s over, and we sit down on trade, people understand a couple things we want to fix on it but going forward we got to build a global economy.”
McAuliffe went on to suggest that Clinton’s opposition to the TPP was primarily due to the pressures of electoral politics, not genuine opposition to a flawed agreement.
“Listen, she was in support of it,” McAuliffe said, referring to Clinton’s praise of the deal during her tenure as secretary of State. “There were specific things in it she wants fixed.”
Throughout the tumultuous primary process, and particularly during the Democratic convention, opposition to the TPP has been prevalent, concentrated largely among supporters of Bernie Sanders.
Many have long viewed Clinton’s sudden opposition to the TPP as an opportunistic shift, one that does not represent her true position on the agreement.
McAuliffe’s statements are likely to intensify these questions, leading to further discord within a party establishment that is struggling for unity amidst a popular uprising in opposition to status quo politics.
The Virginia governor’s comments, then, come at a particularly bad time for Democrats looking to persuade progressive voters to back them in November. Many of these voters are disaffected by the leaked emails that show disdain for Bernie Sanders, as well as a concerted effort to construct narratives that would have painted his campaign in an ugly light.
McAuliffe’s staff, as Annie Karni notes, quickly “sought to clarify the governor’s remarks after this story published, saying he was simply expressing what he wants Clinton to do if she is elected president.”
Progressive groups in the United States and across the globe have organized in opposition to agreements like the TPP, which strip nations of their ability to regulate and restrain the actions of large, politically influential corporations.
Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization, has advocated strongly against the TPP.
The TPP would, the group argues, “make it easier for big corporations to ship our jobs overseas, pushing down our wages and increasing income inequality” and “empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards.”
Hillary Clinton has repeatedly stated her opposition to the agreement, but during the Democratic platform deliberations, Clinton surrogates voted down an amendment that would have included language officially stating the party’s opposition to the agreement. Their justification for not supporting the inclusion of such language was that doing so would be disloyal to the president, who supports the agreement.
Democrats, the Washington Post reports, instead opted for vague language in opposition to trade deals that harm American workers, avoiding any mention of the TPP.
“By a vote of 116 to 64, the platform committee approved language — critical of “trade agreements that do not support good American jobs,” but evasive on TPP — that had been hammered out by labor groups that supported Hillary Clinton.”
In contrast with Clinton, Bernie Sanders has remained consistent in his opposition to trade deals that he believes suppress wages and send jobs overseas.
When the United States first reached an agreement with the nations involved with the TPP negotiations, Politico reported that Sanders called the deal “disastrous.”
“I am disappointed but not surprised by the decision to move forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will hurt consumers and cost American jobs,” Sanders said. “Wall Street and other big corporations have won again. It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multinational corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense.”
[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]