The folks of Pittsburgh are used to Democratic presidential candidates telling them what they want to hear — and then doing just the opposite once they are in the White House. Barack Obama pulled off that “bait and switch” beautifully in 2008 when he promised in Pennsylvania to crack down on China’s cheating — but China continues to dump below cost over 100 million tons of steel per year into the U.S. and elsewhere with devastating effects.
[Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro| August 1, 2016 |Pittsburg Post Gazette]
Now, Hillary Clinton is stumping the state spouting the same kind of “tough on trade” rhetoric. The irony here is that candidate Clinton has been the Queen of the Bad Trade deal going back some 23 years.
In 1993, as first lady, Ms. Clinton lobbied hard for NAFTA. On the day her husband Bill signed it, he promised it would “create 200,000 jobs in this country by 1995 alone.”
NAFTA wound up costing America over 700,000 jobs. However, even after this devastation was becoming evident, a by-then Sen. Clinton kept supporting NAFTA — doubling down on a bad trade deal that has done as much damage to Mexico as it has to America.
In 2001, the Clintons also helped shoehorn China’s entry into the World Trade Organization — the most poorly negotiated trade deal in American history. President Bill Clinton, himself, promised China would “play by the same open trading rules we do.” Instead, China has used a potent arsenal of unfair trade practices to shut over 70,000 American factories and kick millions of American workers to the curb.
As an example of China’s cheating that hits Pennsylvanians right between the eyes, Chinese steel producers lose more than $10 billion a year but the government keeps them alive and dumping with illegal subsidies. China’s mercantilist motto: Import jobs and factories from the West by exporting products manufactured at a loss!
Then, of course, there is Ms. Clinton’s sow’s ear that yielded no silk — the 2012 South Korean free trade agreement. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she called it a “cutting edge trade deal” that would create 70,000 new jobs. Instead, our South Korean trade deficit has nearly doubled and we have lost 75,000 jobs. She might as well have taken a chain saw to American workers and their paychecks.
Here’s what is perhaps most interesting politically: All of the Clintons’ bad trade deals were staunchly opposed by the AFL-CIO and trade unions like the pride of Pittsburgh, the United Steelworkers of America. Yet today, union leaders are holding their noses while asking their rank-and-file members to support a candidate in Hillary Clinton that has done more to hold their paychecks down and put them on the unemployment line than any presidential candidate in post-war history.
Hillary Clinton is going to be a tough sell in the union halls across America, and the “odds-on” bet is on a resurgence of blue-collar Reagan Democrats rising up to propel a truly “tough on trade” Donald Trump into office. This is an outcome all the more likely because of the ongoing debate over what may well be the worst trade deal yet for American manufacturing — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
As a lame-duck president, Barack Obama has been trying to push this 5,000-page TPP abomination down the throats of the American people. Before her infamous TPP “flip flop,” Secretary of State Clinton said it “set the gold standard in trade agreements” and, according to CNN, lobbied for it on 45 separate occasions.
Now that Hillary Clinton says she’s against a TPP deal that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders opposed from Day One, the obvious question is whether anybody in the voting booth is going to believe her. With her track record, that is unlikely.