Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, under pressure from the progressive wing of her party, reiterated her opposition to the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on Thursday and vowed to continue opposing it after the November election.
Clinton, who delivered a key economic policy speech outside of Detroit on Thursday, sought to draw sharp distinctions between her prescriptions for the economy and that of Republican candidate Donald Trump, who outlined his tax and trade proposals in a speech in Detroit on Monday.
She portrayed herself as the champion of the middle and working class and charged that Trump would only support policies, such as the tax proposals he laid out, that help his own business interests and those of the wealthy in general.
“If I am fortunate enough to be your president, I will have your back every single day,” Clinton said.
The antitrade rhetoric on the campaign trail has dimmed the prospects of the TPP, which includes the U.S., Australia, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Chile, Brunei and New Zealand and would encompass nearly 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.
Clinton supported TPP while she was working as Secretary of State under President Obama, but she reversed her position once she became a presidential candidate and has repeatedly said she opposes the trade deal as it is written. She was pushed in large part by her primary challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders, who vigorously opposed TPP, claiming bad trade deals have led to too many job losses in the country.
Some liberal groups have called on Clinton to publicly state she opposes a lame-duck vote in Congress on the controversial trade deal.
“My message to every worker in Michigan and across America is this — I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Clinton told a crowd at the Futuramic Tool & Engineering plant in Warren, Mich. “I oppose it now, I will oppose it after the election and I will oppose it as president.
“It is true that too often, past trade deals have been sold to the American people with rosy scenarios that did not pan out,” Clinton said. “Those promises now ring hollow in many communities across Michigan and our country that have seen factories close and jobs disappear.”
She said companies have lobbied for trade deals to sell products abroad, but in turn also moved production abroad to make those products and ship them back to the U.S.
“American workers in communities have paid the price,” Clinton declared. “But the answer is not to rant and rave or cut ourselves off from the world. That ends up killing even more jobs. The answer is to finally make trade work for us, not against us.”
Clinton touted her plan for creating “good-paying jobs,” although she did not appear to offer any new economic proposals in her speech. She said a big part of her economic plan will be “unleashing the power of the private sector” to create more high-paying jobs.
“That means for us creating an infrastructure bank to get private funding off of the sidelines to complement [government investment] — $25 billion in government seed funding could unlock more than $250 billion and really get our country moving on infrastructure plans,” Clinton said. “We are going to invest $10 billion in what we call ‘Make It in America’ partnerships to support American manufacturing and recommit the scientific research that can create entire new industries.”
Trump said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday morning before Clinton’s afternoon speech that he is not an isolationist.
“I’m a free trader. I want free trade, but it’s got to be fair trade. It’s got to be good deals for the United States,” Trump said, as he called the North American Free Trade agreement a “great disaster” and reiterated that he will renegotiate it. He has also said he will withdraw the U.S. from TPP.
Clinton sharpened her criticism against Trump’s “Make America Great Again” theme on Thursday, calling the Republican candidate out again for reportedly making a portion of his signature suit and tie collection abroad at the same time he promises to create more manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
“Before he tweets about how he’s really the one who will put America first in trade, let’s remember where Trump makes many of his own products because it’s sure not in America,” Clinton said. “He has made Trump ties in China and Trump suits in Mexico, instead of here in Michigan. He keeps saying it’s not possible to make these things here in America and that’s just wrong.”
Clinton pointed to a “Made in America buyer’s guide” for Trump that her campaign released last week, claiming to find 100 manufacturers in America that could make Trump’s signature suits, ties and other products.
“One positive thing Trump could do to make America great again is actually make things in America again,” Clinton said in her speech Thursday.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Clinton’s remarks about the Republican standard-bearer’s signature collection and her campaign’s buyer’s guide.
Clinton again called for tough enforcement against China and undervalued currency policies that are known as currency manipulation.
“As a senator from New York, I fought to defend New York’s manufacturers and steel makers from unfair Chinese trading practices,” she said. “I opposed the only multilateral trade deal [the Central American Free Trade Agreement] that came before the Senate while I was there because it didn’t’ meet my high bar.”
She said if elected, she will “stand up to China” and made a new proposal to triple the number of trade enforcement officers in her administration, in addition to reiterating her vow to appoint a chief trade prosecutor.
“Mr. Trump may talk a big game on trade, but his approach is based on fear, not strength — fear that we can’t compete with the rest of the world even when the rules are fair, fear that our country has no choice but to hide behind walls,” she said.
She even used an Olympics analogy. She said if Team USA were as fearful as Trump, Olympic athletes and gold medal winners Michael Phelps and Simone Biles would be “cowering in the locker room afraid to come out and compete.”
“Instead, they are winning gold medals,” Clinton said. “America isn’t afraid to compete. Right now, thousands of Michigan companies are exporting billions of dollars of products around the world. We want them to sell even more and create even more jobs here at home.”