There’s a good REASON why she’s not with you on trade, Bernie

Bernie Sanders is frustrated, or at least he’s letting on to be frustrated, that Hillary Clinton won’t join him and House Democrats in opposing free trade:

WASHINGTON — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called on Democratic presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday to say exactly where she stands on President Barack Obama’s trade agenda now that Congress is considering it.

“I think our trade policies have been disastrous,” Sanders said during a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor. “Secretary Clinton, if she’s against this, we need her to speak out right now. Right now. And I don’t understand how any candidate, Democrat or Republican, is not speaking out on this issue right now.”…

See, there’s a reason Hillary is fudging on the issue, Bernie — she actually has a realistic chance of becoming president, and no president would want to be hobbled with positions such as yours.

And yet, since a lot of people in her party are opposed to free trade, she’s not crazy about taking a bold stance that would make her as nonviable as you are.

Wanting to be president, and seeing the real possibility in front of you, can be a constricting thing…

30 thoughts on “There’s a good REASON why she’s not with you on trade, Bernie

  1. Bob Amundson

    Bob Woodward said yesterday (CNN, State of the Union with Jake Tapper) that a Hillary Clinton motto is, “Fake it until you make it.”

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Actually, I was sort of sympathizing with her on this.

    What do you do when you want to be president, and you’re a Democrat, and you don’t hold to the anti-free trade strain of your party? You avoid the issue if you can, and if you can’t, you try at least not to tick off any more people than you have to…

    1. Phillip

      Your sympathy is misplaced. The unwillingness to clearly address issues of significance to the American people, in favor of “parsing,” “fudging,” etc., only contributes to our general national cynicism.

      Sanders is not saying “join my view.” He’s challenging Hillary to say where she stands on this issue, and if she takes a different view from him, then she should say why. Are we supposed to reward candidates for opacity? This is the reason why having primary opponents for Hillary (and debates) is important.

  3. bud

    I love watching all the anti-Hillary nattering coming from the right. Probably jealousy that they don’t have a single candidate who is remotely sensible on the issues. The right pushes for pro-billionaire policies at every turn. Such policies have only gotten us more and more income inequality and an increasingly difficult environment for folks to become upwardly mobile financially. Just to tick off a few: College is increasingly expensive and our young people dive deeper into debt to try and get ahead. The inheritance tax is limited to $5+ million dollars. Capital gains taxes are ridiculously low. The top income tax rate is paltry compared to what it was during the prosperous 60s. Laws around the country make it harder and harder for unions to organize against the increasingly monopolistic industries that control a greater and greater proportion of our country. Those same corporate elites make it easier to spend enormous amounts of money to spread plutocratic propaganda. And now they want greater ability to outsource jobs to third world sweatshops.

    And the press can’t vilify folks like Bernie Sanders fast enough for merely pushing back against the increasingly gamed system. Working people need a champion like Mr. Sanders. And the increasingly corporate controlled press is plenty happy to spread the right wing nonsense that has gotten this country into such a state.

    1. Brad Warthen

      How can you say, “they don’t have a single candidate who is remotely sensible on the issues?”

      They’ve got Graham, Bush, Christie, who are all pretty mainstream. And others I just don’t know enough about to say.

      This is SO much better than 2012, when they had Huntsman, and… That was about it.

      1. bud

        Graham and his constant push for war sensible? Christie the bully sensible? Too much like Dick Nixon. Jeb BUSH, sensible? Please. Hasn’t the Bush family done enough harm already?

            1. Norm Ivey

              I think you might like Jim Webb. He’s Marine circa Viet Nam (and former Secretary of the Navy), an author of a number of books, and has a reputation for despising politics (think Unparty). On the other hand, he may be a bit to populist and social justice-oriented for your tastes.

              He’s certainly one that I am watching. I’d love to see him in a debate with Hillary because he’s a pretty plain-spoken person.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            Lincoln Chafee referred to himself in the third person the other day. What is the conversion of “third person” in metric?

    2. Doug Ross

      “Such policies have only gotten us more and more income inequality ”

      The single greatest cause of income inequality is lack of education. Jobs for unskilled people have been shipped overseas (thank you, Bill Clinton and NAFTA). All they have left are service jobs that are a replaceable commodity. If you don’t have skills, you can’t pay the bills.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Where is your data for that? I read that the single biggest cause of income inequality is corporate welfare: tax breaks for excessive CEO comp, corporate bailouts while letting the average citizen struggle, plus lack of funding for education, including college, tax breaks for the wealthy, etc. etc.

        1. Harry Harris

          Thomas Piketty’s research-based assertion is that inequality is a side-effect of unrestrained capitalism that can be made better or worse by government policy. Without promoting a cause-effect explanation, it is certain that large increases income (and wealth) inequality coincide with the tax policy, financial system “innovation,” and corporate compensation developments since the late 1970’s.
          My take is that in any society that is increasingly hyper-materialistic, the winners will always be those with power, accumulated wealth, brash or disguised greed, and a sizable group with talent, luck, or a hard-working attitude. Regardless of the source of the inequality, a diminishing sense of community exacerbates the effect. The love of money (materialism) is the root of all kinds of evil.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Yes! It takes governmental interference to reduce the natural distributional inequities that result from capitalism.
            or divine intervention…

              1. Doug Ross

                And skills don’t have to be just education-based. Political skills, athletic skills, creative skills – they are what separate people. Al Sharpton, LeBron James, and Oprah Winfrey all have unique talents that offered them a path to success.

                If you think the system is rigged, it’s because people with skills rigged it. That’s been the way things have worked since the beginning of time. And the best way to overcome whatever perceived inequality exists is to develop a skill that the marketplace values more than a commodity.

              2. Doug Ross

                The only effective method to address skill inequality is charity.

                The most ineffective method to address skill inequality is forcible redistribution of wealth which ends up creating a class of people dependent on the government. That’s what we have now.

              3. bud

                What “skills” do Sam Walton’s children possess? I suppose there is some “skill” associated with being born to the right parents but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.

                I would suggest for middle to upper middle class people innate skill accounts for about 10% of a persons success. Hard work and perseverance 70% and pure luck for the remainder. Lack of innate skill can be overcome by very hard word. But a few breaks along the way sure helps. For the wealthy it’s more like 1%, 3% and 96% of all wealth about $1 million/year.

              4. Kathryn Fenner

                Sure, but is it good for society for those who “lose” to rot on the streets or rise up in anger or just veg in front of their TVs?
                Just because you *can* grab way more than you need doesn’t mean you should.

              5. Doug Ross

                Anyone who cares about taking other people’s money should disclose how much of their own they give to charity first.

              6. Barry

                I can’t speak for national statistics – but there isn’t a day that goes by (except for Saturday and Sunday) that I am not a construction site in South Carolina.

                While it’s not an everyday conversation, I have been in hundreds of jobsite meetings in the last 2-4 years with job supers where they have talked openly about having jobs available that they can’t fill but can’t get people to accept them (or that can pass a drug test).

                These jobs are usually lower wage jobs, but most will pay $10-$13 an hour for 7-8 hours of work a day with the potential for more – or the potential to learn a specific skill like electrician or plumber.

                That won’t solve a national problem, but the reality is there are people out there that have no job, and no prospects for a job- who aren’t interested in a job.

              7. Doug Ross

                Correct, Barry. My daughter works in a food service job as a baker and the amount of turnover in the employees is amazing. People who cannot do basic math or refuse to do tasks they consider are beneath them. Just this week, a new hire told the manager “No” when asked to do something. What does society OWE these people?

  4. Harry Harris

    There are differences on trade agreements among Democrats. On this one, most Democrats oppose fast-track authorization which disallows almost all amendments after finalizing the agreement. Almost all oppose the international panel that would allow corporations to negate US (or other countries’) laws that they object to from a profitability standpoint. Many (including Pelosi and apparently now Hillary) point to the poor record of enforcing provisions in earlier agreements that were touted to protect worker rights, the environment, restrict plant relocation offshore, prevent dumping, and give better access to other countries markets. Clinton wanted to withhold taking a position until the agreement was done, but ended up doing a “what Nancy said” limited statement based on being pounded for avoiding an early pronouncement.
    Sanders opposes most free trade agreements based on the track record of opening our markets without getting much in return. Access to all the Korean and Malaysian consumer cash available doesn’t stack up to much compared to what they can do to our existing industries – the ones who don’t go Asian chasing cheap labor while getting tax subsidies for R&D on products they decide to make overseas (Apple, etc.)

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Access to all the Korean and Malaysian consumer cash available doesn’t stack up to much compared to what they can do to our existing industries – the ones who don’t go Asian chasing cheap labor while getting tax subsidies for R&D on products they decide to make overseas (Apple, etc.)

      So, are you saying that US companies will sell goods to the consumers in Korea and Malaysia to get their “consumer cash” and also start to make products over there, because they can do so more cheaply?

      Do I have that correct?

      1. Harry Harris

        I’m saying that the spending money in most Asian countries available to be spent on US made products is paltry. The big spending, if it follows recent history, will be money spent relocating capacity overseas in order to make stuff (and services like call centers and software) cheaply – with easy access to much more lucrative US markets. I remember the arguments about the Asians wearing Nike (purportedly American) shoes as a great opportunity for American workers. The reality is that they make them over there for 4 bucks a pair, sell them over there for 15 bucks, but sell them to our foolish consumers for $120. The great American worker benefit is a few athletes paid to promote them and a few sales reps pumping an overpriced product.

  5. Mark Stewart

    The great disconnect here is that America doesn’t make her way in the world building things in factories and mills anymore. What propels this country is what is created in offices and labs – and garages and kitchen table.

    Anyway and as an aside, the city state of Singipore most likely does more international trade than either Malaysia or Indonesia; or probably more than the two combined.

    1. Harry Harris

      We have lost a lot of our manufacturing base for sure, and that is a big component of the destruction of our middle-income class. It’s a path toward a third world economy. You can’t long run an economy on pushing paper, moving money around, selling ideas, and financial schemes. Flimsy credit and transfer programs can’t be the underpinning of a strong economy. We are spending an increasing portion of our national wealth on law enforcement, incarceration, military matters, and health care. We can’t all make a living selling ideas and Tupperware.

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