Day 67 – My journey to find reasons to vote for Hillary rather than just against Trump.
 
Hillary is careful about free trade.
 
It’s easy to say she flip-flops when it comes to free trade. (And that notion is not entirely unfair.) But, I will posit that the reality is a little more nuanced.
 
“Some people are generally pro-trade or anti-trade. She’s case-by-case on trade,” Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, told theWashington Post last year.
 
This appears to be true. Out of the 10 trade deals Clinton could have voted on, she voted in favor of six and against two. On two other deals (with Peru and Jordan), she didn’t vote but did vouch for them.
 
As Senator, she commissioned a study on the effect of NAFTA. Her chief of staff characterized her position on unions as, “I think it’s fair to say she’s for trade but not for trade for trade’s sake.”
 
The big question is whether these trade agreements lost jobs for the US, and, again, the answer is nuanced. Most economists agree that they lost some jobs and created others, on balance, netting zero. The problem is that the jobs that were lost were mostly blue collar manufacturing jobs and the jobs that were created were higher-level, white collar jobs.
 
As only 5% of the world’s population, it makes sense for the US to have trade agreements in place. Pure free trade – I think – would result in bigger problems since our workers do – and should – make more money than most third world countries, for example.
 
The other big issue is whether countries are allowed to enact currency fluctuations to facilitate their trade balances. This is the crux of her objection to TPP. There is no mechanism regulating currency.
 
What she wants is to have a trade prosecutor to actually enforce the trade agreements that we have before we enter into any others. And, as with so much else that she’s done, she wants realistic studies to look at the net effect of trade agreements. Not surprisingly, this doesn’t sit well with manufacturing workers (in those critical purple states), although most manufacturers support these agreements. That said, robotics also contributed to the decline in manufacturing jobs so it’s difficult to lay the blame entirely on NAFTA.
 
Since there is no simple or clearcut answer to address these concerns, I can see why her public position is not clear. I do wish she’d take the time to more fully explain her positions, although her website comes closer. And politically, it would be easier to be less nuanced, so I applaud her willingness to have a more complicated position.