Clinton’s Confounding Position on Trade and TPP

Aug 12, 2016 - 12:00pm

Executive Director, Strategic Communications


Photo credit: Sean Proctor/Bloomberg

During a speech this week outlining her economic plans, Hillary Clinton insisted that “we’ve got to create more jobs that are going to help more people.” She later emphasized the urgency with which “we need to grow the economy” and she promised to create “new, good-paying jobs” for Americans.

However, moments later, she contradicted herself entirely by again denouncing (this time, in no uncertain terms) one of our country’s most promising opportunities to grow the economy and create more good-paying jobs: The Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as president,” Clinton said of the TPP during her economic speech in Michigan on Thursday.

It’s a paradox of startling proportions to one moment promise to create more good-paying jobs, and the next moment promise to derail a free trade agreement that numerous studies have shown would generate more jobs for Americans and raise annual real incomes in the United States by $131 billion. It’s equally baffling to one moment call for accelerated economic growth, and the next moment bash an agreement that would create a level playing field for American businesses in the international arena and grant them better access to several booming new markers across the Pacific.

Clinton’s comments become all the more puzzling when coupled with a recent analysis by the U.S. International Trade Commission, which estimates that the TPP will boost America’s annual real income by more than $57 billion over the next 15 years.

Related: Why We're Advocating For More Global Trade

Sure, we can chalk Clinton’s comments up to political headwinds and the inevitable escalation of rhetoric on the campaign trail as election day nears. However, we have reached the point where these misguided and ill-informed attacks on TPP threaten to undermine decades of progress on free trade. The result could send our economy spiraling in the opposite direction Clinton says she wants it to go.

That’s because, as we speak, other nations are forming trade pacts among themselves that threaten to leave the United States on the outside looking in. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers – that is, 95 percent of the possible customers for U.S. businesses to reach – living beyond our borders, this trend has the potential to have severe and lasting consequences for the American economy if our current leaders and presidential hopefuls don’t change their trade tune soon.

In fact, without free trade agreements like TPP – agreements that expand our country’s access to the rest of the world and strengthen America’s leadership position around the globe – there will be no long-term job growth on the horizon, no economic growth coming down the pike, and no enduring prosperity in our nation’s future. In short, America’s economic fate in many ways hinges on trade.

At one point during the same speech in Michigan, Clinton raised an interesting question.

“There are common-sense things that your government could do that would give Americans more opportunities to succeed,” she said. “Why don’t we do it?”

With regard to TPP, we would like to ask her the same thing. 

About the Author

About the Author

J.D. Harrison
Executive Director, Strategic Communications

J.D. Harrison is the Executive Director for Strategic Communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.