Obama Mailer Slams Clinton on NAFTA

I just received my first mailer of the presidential race and it's a doozy. "Only Barack Obama consistently opposed NAFTA," it declares. "A little more than a year ago, Hillary Clinton thought NAFTA was a 'boon' to the economy," it continues (citing a 9/11/06 item in Newsday). And, "Hillary Clinton was not with Ohio when our jobs were on the line. Why should we be with her now?"

The piece targets not just Clinton's record on trade but her credibility. It says that she is "changing her tune" now that she's campaigning in places like Ohio, but when Obama says he will fix broken trade deals "we can believe him."

Here are images of the mailer (continuing after the flip):

Following Sherrod

Looks like Obama is taking a lot of notes from Sherrods playbook. NAFTA is certainly an issue where Hillary appears out of touch with the working people of Ohio. Trade is sexy. :-)


In order to "consistently oppose" something, don't you have to have a record on this?

According to my research, Obama has supported the Bush Administration in expanding NAFTA to include Peru.

Has there been any vote in the Senate on NAFTA in which Obama can make this claim? If you read his mailer closely, you'd notice that he doesn't think NAFTA, as a concept, can't be a boon to the economy. He believes that he needs to tinker with it first. The Clinton campaign has claimed that Obama has praised trade deals like NAFTA as early as 2004.

This mailer creates a misconception that Obama is against NAFTA. He isn't, he wants there to be a NAFTA, but with some modifications. Which is, ironically, the exact same position Clinton has maintained for several years.

Yet another example of old politics by the "new politics" crowd...


This could backfire on him, if he is called out on supporting the Peru trade agreement. Do you know if he voted for CAFTA?

It reminds me a bit of his "Clinton wants to go after your paycheck" allegation about her health plan, which struck me as misleading.

Politicians do this all the time, making a statement in absolute terms when the reality is much more complicated, but you're right that Obama's claim to be a "post-partisan" candidate tends to set him up to be held to a higher standard.

Obama & Clinton both opposed CAFTA

They have the exact same voting record on trade while they've been in the Senate.

Ah, he did vote against CAFTA

I see from your BSB post that they both voted no.

Obama's Objection to NAFTA Greater Than You Suggest

You basically have a good point but you are unfairly minimizing Obama's position when you call what he wants to do "tinkering."

I now see that this mailer is timed to coincide with a major emphasis on economic policy, with a big focus on NAFTA, outlined in a speech today that David Sirota excerpts on DailyKos. Environmental protections and worker protections are more than "tinkering."

I disagree

He wants the same changes Clinton says she wants. He doesn't want to end NAFTA, he wants to change it. That's a far less radical position that what he is implyin in this mailing where he suggests that he has consistently opposed NAFTA. Thus, tinkering.

To paraphrase, Obama's position on NAFTA is to "mend it, not end it."

Sirota has pointed out in the past that Obama's voting record has not been as populist has Obama has portrayed and has been one of the most vocal ones in saying that there has not really been a material difference between the two on trade.

Is it smart politics for Obama to sound more populist in Ohio? Sure, and that's really all Sirota's post at DailyKos says.

Hillary & "trade"--some facts

Just before Iowa, I became curious as to just how much Hillary had involved herself in her husband's unexpected and peculiar penchant for vigorously pushing the economists' experiment called "free trade". Here's a summary of what I found:

If Iraq is "Hillary's big mistake", isn't China "Bill's big mistake"? Is it fair to blame the wife for the husband's errors, blame Hillary for Bill's blunders? Seems so. For the essence of Hillary's presidential pitch is: "Elect me. I was there -- been there, done that -- for the full eight years. I've got the experience". Indeed, unlike her Iraq vote, Hilllary seems prepared to admit that the Clintonian pushing of the NAFTA and China deals was in retrospect, a very large mistake, another learning experience. In this concession, Hillary would seem to give herself little other choice, than to share the blame with Bill. For, given her reliance on the "I'm experienced" pitch, what else can she say? "Yes, I was deeply involved in simply everything the administration did in those 8 years -- except of course for NAFTA and China"?

NAFTA and China are of course not minor blunders. We all know that, now. But is it fair to suggest that the remarkable damage to America's once-cherished manufacturing base could have been foreseen? Who had such good judgment, such good foresight? Anybody? As Tim Curry, MSNBC's national affairs writer, recently pointed out (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21536832/), some indeed did. The late and lamented Paul Wellstone for one: "What Wellstone knew: Among the relatively few senators (only 15) voting 'no' were liberal Democratic senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota . . .". Curry notes that Jesse Helms of North Carolina also opposed the China deal, and Curry asks: "Did Wellstone and Helms have the wisdom to foresee consequences from the China trade deal that Edwards didn’t? Or has the wheel simply turned, so that lowering trade barriers — once so popular in the Bill Clinton Era — now has become a cause for remorse because the consequences are now more apparent?"

Today's trade refection and remorse come just a little too late, in the view of at least one Iowan, former local union president Ted Johnson. A recent PBS program on "Iowa's Take on Free Trade", after noting that "On the Democratic side, candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards have pledged to renegotiate NAFTA, but Hillary Clinton seems to stop short, promising to review the trade deal.", added that "That's not enough for Ted Johnson". Johnson's succinctly-stated view: "JOHNSON: They should have reviewed it before it got signed and perhaps they should have listened to some folks who said 'hey, this is not a good deal'." (See "Iowa's Take on Free Trade"; PBS Nightly Business Report; November 7, 2007; http://www.pbs.org/nbr/site/onair/transcripts/071107b/)

One of those in addition to Wellstone who had vigorously tried to warn the Clinton administration of the obvious upcoming damage, long-time trade-deal critic Ralph Nader, tends to agree with Iowan Johnson, that Hillary's new help is coming just a little late. Noting Sen. Clinton's June, 2007 Michigan town hall statement that the upcoming Korea trade agreement is "inherently unfair" and will "cost us good middle-class jobs", Nader notes that these current Clinton appraisals could and should have been made as to "NAFTA and the WTO" -- and asks: "Where has she been for the past fifteen years?" Nader also notes (as did the above PBS program) that, unlike Obama's and Edwards" firm commitments to renegotiate such as the backfiring NAFTA, Hillary tends to fuzz over just what she might or might not do to correct such "inherent unfairness": "Still, she has not supported the renegotiation of NAFTA and WTO which the U.S. can force by utilizing the Treaties' 6 month notice of withdrawal from each . . .". (See "The NAFTA Two-Step"; June 19, 2007; http://www.counterpunch.org/nader06192007.htm)

Hillary's carefully-worded straddle on trade is understandable. While, as noted, such as the Des Moines Register seem to see her history of past mistakes as some kind of "toughening" plus, Hillary herself is understandably not too keen on unnecessarily adding to her list. Thus, she doesn't overtly apologize for her part in such as NAFTA and China. Indeed, when it comes to the trade debacle, she seems to be setting herself up as a sort of "smarter Clinton" -- one who, if the voters would just put her in full charge of trade, will do things much differently from Bill. See, for instance, such reviews of this tactic (or "electoral calculations") as New York Magazine's "Marital Discord: Bill Clinton was the ultimate free trader. But Hillary, tacking left, is sounding protectionist notes" (http://nymag.com/news/politics/powergrid/34457/) and Bloomberg News' "Clinton Breaks With Husband's Legacy on Nafta Pact, China Trade" (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=atUKcP4eSEvY&refer=p...).

But the Bloomberg "Clinton Breaks With Husband's Legacy" review insists on giving us not simply the new tactic, but also a little Hillary history. Some excerpts:

"Clinton promoted her husband's trade agenda for years, and friends say that she's a free-trader at heart. 'The simple fact is, nations with free-market systems do better,' she said in a 1997 speech to the Corporate Council on Africa. 'Look around the globe: Those nations which have lowered trade barriers are prospering more than those that have not.'


"Praise for Nafta"

"At the 1998 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, she praised corporations for mounting 'a very effective business effort in the U.S. on behalf of Nafta.' She added: 'It is certainly clear that we have not by any means finished the job that has begun'."


"In her interview with Bloomberg, Clinton was careful to describe Nafta as having been negotiated by the administration of President George H.W. Bush 'and then pushed through Congress in the Clinton administration',"

The New York Magazine review finds itself bemused by Hillary's attempt to blame the current trade debacle on not either herself or husband Bill but on George Bush's father. After noting Hillary's argument that ”’NAFTA was inherited by the Clinton administration’, she [Hillary] informed Time magazine”, the New York review adds this:

"It’s tempting to mock this last point as a nakedly disingenuous reading of history . . .. Though Clinton did, in fact, inherit NAFTA from the Bush 41 régime, he campaigned for its passage as if his life depended on it, taking on the out-front protectionist bloc in the Democratic party at a time when his standing was far from solid—an act of considerable political courage and even greater political skill. After pushing through the deal, Clinton described it as representing a seminal decision by the country not to retreat from a world in which 'change is the only constant'."

What has proved to be not so "constant", the magazine suggests, is the once-vigorous support for "free trade" that Bill Clinton could count on, trom his "economist" friends. The fact is that these once-zealous free trade pushers are now busily jumping the "free trade" ship:

"More broadly, the consensus among top-tier economists that underpinned the support for free trade has lately been rattled by a spate of revisionism. Alan Blinder of Princeton, a former vice-chair of the Federal Reserve and a staunch Democrat, has taken to arguing that the downsides of unfettered globalization may be far greater than standard doctrine has assumed—in particular, that offshoring and outsourcing may put as many as 40 million American jobs at risk in the next two decades. The Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson has joined the chorus, as has former Clinton Treasury secretary Larry Summers, who wrote recently that pledges to retrain workers displaced in the globalized economy are 'pretty thin gruel' when it comes to allaying the fears of the middle class."

In all of this, it may be unsurprising to find Hillary rather shamelessly trying to peddle the baldly self-serving pitch, in effect: "Okay. It's true. It was all just a big, awful mistake. But don't blame me or Bill. Blame George the First." Or as New York Magazine sums up things:

"This new political context helps explain why Hillary is charting a course on trade so different from her husband’s. And Washington is only part of the story—and for her, the less important part. In crucial Democratic primary states, the anti-globalization fever is running even higher. 'She’s lurching left on economics, and it’s all about Iowa,' says one Democratic insider with no affiliation to any presidential campaign. 'They know she is badly positioned on Iraq, especially out there, where the antiwar feeling is strong. So she has to compensate somehow, and this is her way of doing it..”

The question remains: has perhaps "experience" helped Hillary here? Might she be not just tactically but also truly a belated convert to the Nader view -- now become the Nader/Blinder/Samuelson/Summers view -- of the Clinton Administration's misbegotten trade deals? Has she, in short, "learned from this mistake"? Some think not, seeing the "conversion" as but convenient, and very temporary.

In this regard, it is of interest that the record of Hillary's Senate votes had been, until recently, quite uniform:

"Sen. Clinton has voted YES for all free trade agreements presented during her tenure in Congress, except for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2005. Sen. Clinton voted to extend 'most favored nation trade status' to China despite the country's record of substantial human rights violations." See: "The 2008 Democratic Candidates on Free Trade Agreements"; Deborah White; About.com: US Liberal Politics; http://usliberals.about.com/od/2008candidatesonissues/a/DemFreeTrade.htm. Ms. White adds what some might find a further insight: “Both Clintons are active leaders of the Democratic Leadership Council, a pro-corporate interests, centrist Democratic organization that fully supports U.S. free trade arrangements.”

Also of some interest may be Hillary's record on "outsourcing". As noted above, a former staunch "free trader", Alan Blinder, has lately had some substantial second thoughts about the "free trade" experiment -- and what he has to say about outsourcing bears repeating: "Alan Blinder of Princeton, a former vice-chair of the Federal Reserve and a staunch Democrat, has taken to arguing that the downsides of unfettered globalization may be far greater than standard doctrine has assumed—in particular, that offshoring and outsourcing may put as many as 40 million American jobs at risk in the next two decades".

"40 million American jobs". And these will be almost entirely "white collar jobs" -- most of the moveable blue-collar jobs having already gone via that companion to outsourcing called "offshoring" (move of plant, equipment and factory jobs, to China, etc.). As to "outsourcing", Hillary didn't fool around. She went right over to India, the prime beneficiary of American CEOs' outsourcing craze, and candidly told the Indians what she thought of oursourcing. Those Iowans who wear a white collar, or whose children wear white collars alongside their college loan obligations, might want to read the following rather carefully:

Hillary Clinton woos India
By Siddharth Srivastava
Asia Times Mar 1, 2005

"Hillary clears outsourcing air

"Hillary Clinton made it apparent where she stood on outsourcing during her India visit, in an attempt perhaps to clear the Indian misgivings received during the Kerry campaign. 'There is no way to legislate against reality. Outsourcing will continue,' she told an audience of Indian big-wigs. She pointed out that there were 3 billion people who feel left behind and are trying to attack the modern world in the hope of turning the clock back on globalization. 'It is not far-fetched to imagine ... if the Indian miracle would be the one of choice of those who feel left behind,' said Hillary.

"Hillary has been at the forefront in defending free trade and outsourcing. During the height of the anti-outsourcing backlash in the US last year, she faced considerable flak for defending Indian software giant Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for opening a center in Buffalo, New York. 'We are not against all outsourcing; we are not in favor of putting up fences,' Hillary said firmly, despite inevitably invoking the ire of the anti-free trade brigade. ***

"'Though the US understood that the economic vibrancy of India was in its own interest, there are people who feel left behind and might stir up negative feelings against India because they do not understand the economic benefits of outsourcing,' Clinton remarked."

Former Wal-Mart director Hillary has apparently learned to understand such things as "the economic benefits of outsourcing". One might forgive Iowans (and such as Michiganders) if they are just a little bit slow -- as Hillary complained to her Indian friends: ". . . there are people who feel left behind and might stir up negative feelings against India because they do not understand the economic benefits of outsourcing,"

It's not only "india". And it's not only Hillary's Senate voting record on trade or, as Bloomberg reported above, that her friends reassure that she remains a free trade true believer or, as the Bloomberg review puts it, ". . . friends say she's a free-trader at heart". Nor is it simply that as recently as the late 90s at Davos, she thanked the assembled business leaders for helping the Clintons push NAFTA through a very reluctant Congress. Nor that she assured the Davos autience that the "free trade" job was not over but had just begun ("'It is certainly clear that we have not by any means finished the job that has begun'.") It is more likely the sheer convenience of the supposed sudden conversion -- just in time "for Iowa". As the Bloomberg report puts it:

"Labor leaders, upset about job losses they blame on Nafta, remain suspicious that she is too influenced by Rubin, the vice chairman of Citigroup Inc. and an outspoken foe of protectionism. 'The Rubin wing of the Democratic Party is heading up policy direction' for the Clinton campaign, said Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers. That's 'going to be an issue' with union members, he said. `We don't need more of the same'."

"More of the same". Should that be the concern, once Hillary has got herself safely elected? After all, when husband Bill was campaigning for his first term, he too promised that if elected, he'd "do something about trade". And then, helped greatly by votes which believed him, he did do something. First NAFTA. Then, China.

Who to believe here? When in doubt, a handy rule is "Follow the money". Cash -- or cash flow -- is a fact, a fact that rarely lies. The fat-cat contributors don't give to those they don't trust to give back. Take Robert Rubin, for instance, still proud of the "free trade" damage that he talked Bill Clinton into doing, in spite of Bill's campaign promises to the contrary. As union leader Gerard has taken care to note, the same trade-zealot Rubin is prominent among Hillary's "trade" advisors. Are we to believe that he just doesn't know what he's doing, in backing Hillary? Or, that we know more about the real Hillary han does Rubin? Unlikely? Yes.

While banker and Citigroup chairman Rubin has been out of formal governmental office since his Clinton years as chief economic advisor then Secretary of the Treasury, his interest in promoting and preserving his Clinton-era free trade "breakthoughs" (NAFTA and China) continues unabated. For instance, shortly after the Democrats took over control of Congress last year, Rubin sped back to Washington to warn Democrats against doing anything rash (that is, anything substantial or, indeed, anything at all) about his trade "achievements":

Rubin, Summers Push Free Trade
Corporation fellow and former president try to sell trade policy to Dems
Harvard Crimson February 01, 2007

"Two Harvard heavyweights and former treasury secretaries told Congress’s Joint Economic Committee yesterday that the new Democratic majority must take a stand in favor of free trade. *** Though both are members of the same party as the committee’s majority, their testimony underscored a divide on trade policy among Congressional Democrats. Acknowledging that globalization has had negative effects on segments of the American workforce, Summers and Rubin backed free trade . . .".

The newly-elected Jim Webb wasn't buying. As the Crimson report notes, "However, some of the committee members such as Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), who once wrote that globalization and illegal immigration are leading to 'a different life and a troubling future' for middle-class Americans, were less enthusiastic about free trade’s effect on the United States."

Several months later, Webb reiterated his displeasure with the continued influence of what might be called "Rubin Democrats":

"He [James Webb] criticized what he called 'the Rubin wing of the Democratic Party,' after Robert E. Rubin, former President Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary, saying those Democrats share the same problem as many Republicans: 'We're not paying attention to what has happened to basic working people in the country'." (See "Webb lauds freshman power"; Washington Times, July 17, 2007

So, let's try to follow the money -- or, in predicting what will be an elected Hillary's true trade program -- let's follow Robert E. Rubin. Who's Rubin backing this year?

Rubin to Back Clinton
The Caucus
NY Times NOVEMBER 7, 2007

"Aside from Al Gore, the biggest presidential endorsement prize that is still up for grabs from the Clinton administration is Robert E. Rubin, the former Treasury Secretary and deficit hawk who remains one of the most admired economic stewards in Democratic politics.

"Mr. Rubin is now ready to go public: Despite some early misgivings about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s candidacy, he is scheduled to headline a major fundraiser for her on Dec. 13 in New York City, according to a memo describing the event. Democrats close to the Clinton campaign said today that he may appear at additional events, with her or former President Bill Clinton, before the primaries begin in January.


"Democrats close to Mr. Rubin say that he and Mrs. Clinton have spent time together privately this year discussing economy policy and the race — as he has with his former boss, Mr. Clinton, who encouraged the Rubin endorsement.


"He is is scheduled, with Mr. Altman, to hold the opening dinner for Mrs. Clinton’s 'Winter Summit: Grand Finale' forum, her last major fundraiser of 2007, which will take place in New York City on Dec. 13 and Dec. 14. The dinner is for supporters who sell more than $25,000 in tickets for the event."


So, what is Hillary's real (post-election) plan for "trade reform"? Is her surprising 11th-hour conversion from a long-standing free trade addiction a genuine as well as a sudden one? Or, is it but a convenient and passing turnabout -- what is sometimes called, in religious circles, a “death-bed conversion” (with, in Hillary's case, it being not so much a fear of God's looming judgment as that of a mass of completely-trade-disgusted Iowans).

Boston Globe picks up NAFTA post

Health Care Withholdings

You should understand your candidate's own position before reworking it to make her sound good...

From Hillary's own mouth taken work for work from (note: I added the emphasis):
http://facts.hillaryhub.com/ posted on 2.23.08

"Hillary has consistently said she would consider a range of ideas to ensure everyone was covered, including automatically enrolling people who use hospitals and other government services, and working with employers to enroll uninsured employees and ***GO AFTER A SMALL PORTION OF THEIR WAGES*** to cover the cost of healthcare. This is similar to the withholding structure that many employees use for their 401(k)s."

-Obama 08

Why this has to stop

The thing is, these mailers are not new. They're not inaccurate either. This "outrage" thing needs to be seen for what it is. Hillary's campaign is in debt. She can't afford big ad buys, so she needs to make news because that's free. A temper tantrum will do it every time. It's sad because I think she's being ill-advised. In a last-ditch attempt to stay in the limelight AND appear human to the electorate, she's coming across as hormonal. One minute she's honored to be with Barack (AFTER, mind you, those mailers had been circulating for weeks), the next she's tearful, and the next she's raving. It must be hard to see, hear, and think clearly in the midst of the maelstrom that is a presidential campaign, but here's the thing: if you can't do it on the trail, can you do it in the White House?

I honor Senator Clinton for her years of service, and I respectfully ask her to bow out gracefully before more harm is done to the Democratic party. McCain is getting a free pass on the lobbying scandal at the moment because all eyes are on the Clinton tantrum. It's not good.

Thank you for listening.




Agree with you Scarlett..but I dont respect her 4 reasons below

Nothing will take away the momentum that Obama has gained after Super Tuesday. Bill Clinton knows better - if she loses TX she is out! Better for her to bid adieu from this election when she isn't trailing substantially behind rather than have to lose more States and HAVE to leave. Hopefully she will do that after March 4th and not wait until PA.
People hate the Clintons for more reasons...watch this to refresh your memory!
Part 1
Part 2

I was literally shocked last night after watching this - she is double faced for sure and I can't believe that she decided to run for President after all this. Stop deceiving the common American with your fake words of solutions - you don't deserve to be the President! And the speech she gave at Cincinnati yesterday had no dignity - she sounded like a fish monger. How could an ex first lady and someone running for President speak this way? Shame on you Hillary!

HClinton's role in a toxic waste incinerator(WTI) in Oh

1,100 feet from a school. WTI wanted to build America's largest toxic waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio. The incinerator is located 1,100 feet from an elementary school.
WTI was owned by Jackson Stephens, who donated $200,000 to Bush #1 to help this project along.
There were problems and the project was not going to be approved during the Bush #1 administration.
When Bush's ratings tanked during his bid for re-election, Stephens donated $100,000 to Clinton #1 as well as extending a 2 million line of credit to the DLC when they were tapped out.
Bill Clinton won and with some serious monkey business (a Hillary crony) at the EPA, the permit was approved.
more down below....
President Clinton and Vice President Gore visited East Liverpool while campaigning for election in 1992; at that time, Mr. Clinton said that, if he were elected, WTI would never be allowed to operate. But the huge incinerator began burning hazardous waste in 1993.

Mr. Clinton has not returned to East Liverpool since he became President in 1992.

WTI failed part of its test burn in 1993, releasing four times more mercury than allowed. Children at the elementary school were tested for mercury in their urine prior to WTI operation and again six months after the facility started burning as part of a state health study. In the first test, 69 percent of the children tested negative; the follow-up test found that nearly the same number tested positive.

U.S. EPA's own risk assessment of the facility found at least 27 possible accident scenarios that could threaten the lives of the children in the nearby elementary school.

Despite these and other problems, the U.S. EPA issued WTI a full commercial operating license in 1997. The agency has also allowed the facility to nearly double the types of wastes it can burn.

When Clinton became president, he appointed Carol Browner head of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,

Ms. Browner then sent a small cadre of scientists to court in Cleveland, Ohio, to serve as expert witnesses on behalf of Waste Technologies, Inc. (WTI).

Because a memo to Ms. Browner from one of her staff was leaked to Greenpeace (a plaintiff in the lawsuit trying to shut down WTI), Ms. Browner's staff were forced to admit under oath that after Ms. Browner took office on January 20th, EPA conducted a secret risk assessment on the WTI incinerator.

EPA's secret risk assessment revealed that the incinerator would be 1000 times more dangerous than EPA had estimated in the risk assessment they released to the public.

New EPA appointee Browner recused herself from the issue
She left the matter in the hands of Robert Sussman, Deputy EPA Administrator.

The EPA Deputy Administrator Robert Sussman that eventually approved WTI's application was a law school classmate of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Sussman had previously acted as legal counsel to the Chemical Manufacturing Association, at a time when two of its biggest clients, Du Pont and BASF, were negotiating contracts to supply two-thirds of the waste to WTI." The Nation Magazine

The plant opponents cited Sussman's appointment to the EPA through the influence of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose former law firm represented the original founder of Waste Technologies, Jackson Stephans.
Source Archives Cleveland Plain Dealer

The gift to Ohio that keeps on giving..

Recently a new ruling from the Ohio EPA allowed this incinerator, located 1,100 feet from an elementary school, to accept even more hazardous waste (anthrax, radioactive waste, infectious medical waste and mixed hazardous waste from Hurricane Katrina) than the original permit that was shrouded in corruption and approved by the Clinton Administration


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