Hillary and Obama on Trade

Originally posted on the NoSlaves.com blog. Today is the Pennsylvania Primary, so reviewing actual positions is relevant

While the choices for President slim down to next to none, one might evaluate positions instead of joining the various cheer leading camps. Who, overall has the best trade, economic positions to stop this global train wreck?

Firstly any group name calling someone protectionist because they acknowledge the obviously massive ~5.6% GDP trade deficit, is obviously not basing their economics on anything remotely resembling reality. The reason I link to this Pro Obama group is because they want more bad trade agreements. They assessed Obama as more of a corporate free trader than Hillary. Below are some statements from the two for easy comparison contrast.

Train Wreck


  • Fight for Fair Trade: Obama will fight for a trade policy that opens up foreign markets to support good American jobs. He will use trade agreements to spread good labor and environmental standards around the world and stand firm against agreements like the Central American Free Trade Agreement that fail to live up to those important benchmarks. Obama will also pressure the World Trade Organization to enforce trade agreements and stop countries from continuing unfair government subsidies to foreign exporters and non tariff barriers on U.S. exports.
  • Amend the North American Free Trade Agreement: Obama believes that NAFTA and its potential were oversold to the American people. Obama will work with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to fix NAFTA so that it works for American workers.
  • Improve Transition Assistance: To help all workers adapt to a rapidly changing economy, Obama would update the existing system of Trade Adjustment Assistance by extending it to service industries, creating flexible education accounts to help workers retrain, and
    providing retraining assistance for workers in sectors of the economy vulnerable to dislocation before they lose their jobs.


  • I will oppose the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama
  • Ensure that trade policies work for average Americans. Trade policy must raise our standard of living, and they must have strong protections for workers and the environment
  • I will appoint a trade enforcement officer and double the enforcement staff at the office of the United States Trade Representative
  • I will also systematically review every trade agreement to ensure that it is delivering benefits to American workers
  • I will also expand the Trade Adjustment Assistance program so that workers negatively affected by the global economy get the help they need.
  • In my first months in office, I will take a time out from new trade deals to assess their impact before going forward
  • Reevaluate free trade deals every five years to ensure that they are still meeting our national and agricultural interests
    Another excellent resource is this Iowa questionnaire, from a fair trade action group. This grid has the most detailed questions I've found to date. Unfortunately neither candidate spells out enough details on their websites.
    Clinton Statement

    I support pro-America trade. When trade agreements are negotiated without real concern for workers, or when the agreements are not properly enforced, it hurts American families. I believe trade must work for middle-class Americans. Out trade deficit is at unacceptable levels. As President, I will reinvigorate America's manufacturing base, and ensure that foreign countries do not manipulate their currencies to disadvantage American goods.

    The world is changing rapidly, and old assumptions about trade must be reexamined. As President, I will not enter into new trade agreements, or seek trade promotion authority, until my administration has done two things: reviewed all of our existing agreements to determine whether they are benefiting our economy and our workers; and crafted a comprehensive, Pro America trade policy that will strengthen our country in the 21st Century

    Obama statement

    We can't stop globalization in its tracks
    We need to make sure that the rule governing trade are fair and that we're investing in our workers so that they remain the most competitive in the world
    I will work to expand our trade agenda beyond lowering tariffs and protecting our commercial interests.

    Obama's statement is quite long mentioning certain details, but I could not locate any overall policy statement to reconsider all trade agreements, especially the China PNTR agreement or overall policy. Obama does have many more statements seemingly in support of more trade agreements and only mentions environmental and worker standards and worker retraining. Like Hillary, Obama talks about removing tax incentives to offshore outsource American jobs and also like Hillary to address China's currency manipulation (pegging the Yuan to the dollar artifically low).

    Here is an in depth Economist article on their trade positions and notes Dick Gephardt, a well known opponent of NAFTA and other bad trade agreements is an adviser in the Hillary campaign. In the Senate, Obama lobbied for the Peru free trade agreement. Clinton also voted for the Peru trade agreement and both opposed the CAFTA-DR agreement.

    While both have flaws it appears Clinton is the best bet for a complete revamp of the United States trade agreements, but with a lot of public support.

    On further investigation I discovered Hillary, along with Senator Byron Dorgan introduced 0/congress/bills/109/s355">Foreign Debt Ceiling Act of 2005. This is significant, a major policy adjustment and thus Hillary must be serious about changing trade policy for this is from 2005 before she was running.

    Foreign Debt Ceiling Act of 2005 - Requires the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), every three months, to determine if: (1) the net U.S. foreign debt for the preceding 12-month period is more than 25 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the same period; or (2) the U.S. trade deficit for such period is more than five percent of the GDP for the same period. Requires the USTR, whenever an affirmative determination is made, to: (1) convene an emergency meeting of the Trade Policy Review Group to develop a plan of action to reduce the U.S. trade deficit; and (2) report to Congress on the details of the plan.

    note I ignored McCain because he is a United States trade train wreck



'By their words shall ye know them.....'

Here is my contribution to this analysis:


Keep up the good work Robert!

'When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck to crush him.'