Topics in the News: NAFTA

Donald Trump on Free Trade : Oct 18, 2015
Restrict free trade to keep jobs in US

Q: You would end NAFTA, kill the Pacific Trade Agreement, impose tariffs on some products like 35% on Ford cars made in Mexico.

TRUMP: I am all for free trade, but it's got to be fair. When Ford moves their massive plants to Mexico, we get nothing. I want them to stay in Michigan.

Q: But the American Enterprise Institute says, your Trump Collection clothing line, some of it is made in Mexico and China.

TRUMP: That's true. I want it to be made here.

Q: The point is you're doing just what Ford is--you're taking advantage of a global trading market.

TRUMP: I never dispute that. I just ordered 4,000 television sets from South Korea. I don't want to order them from South Korea. I don't think anybody makes television sets in the United States anymore. I talk about it all the time.˙We don't make anything anymore. Now you look at Boeing.˙Boeing's going over to China.˙They're going to build a massive plant because China's demanding it in order to order airplanes from Boeing.

Click for Donald Trump on other issues.   Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 Coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Bernie Sanders on Free Trade : Sep 5, 2015
China trade has led to loss of 3M American jobs so far

Q: What does Bernie's track record look like with regard to Chinese trade policy?

A: Time and time again, Bernie has voted against free trade deals with China. In 1999, Bernie voted in the House against granting China "Most Favored Nation" status. In 2000, Bernie voted against Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China which aimed to create jobs, but instead lead to the loss of more than 3 million jobs for Americans.

Q: Maybe these trade agreements aren't all great for Americans, but don't they provide millions of jobs for Chinese workers?

A: Bernie firmly rejects the idea that America's standard of living must drop in order to see a raise in the standard of living in China.

Q: So what does Bernie propose we do?

A: Instead of passing such trade deals again and again, Bernie argues we must "develop trade policies which demand that American corporations create jobs here, and not abroad."

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: 2016 presidential campaign website, "Issues"

Donald Trump on Free Trade : Jun 28, 2015
Disastrous deals because we don't have smart negotiators

Q: So, you would tear up NAFTA?

A: I think NAFTA has been a disaster. I think our current deals are a disaster. I'm a free trader. The problem with free trade is, you need smart people representing you. We have the greatest negotiators in the world, but we don't use them. We use political hacks and diplomats. We use the wrong people. Mexico is smart; they have out-negotiated us to a fare-thee-well. They're going to be the capital of automobiles pretty soon, the way they're going.

Click for Donald Trump on other issues.   Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Bernie Sanders on Free Trade : Jun 14, 2015
Base trade policy on working families, not multinationals

Q: The president says that expanding trade helps service industries & opens new markets. You talk about workers that would lose their job from trade. They say this will open up markets that will increase jobs.

SANDERS: I have been hearing that argument for the last 25 years. I heard it about NAFTA. I heard it about CAFTA. I heard it about permanent normal trade relations with China. Here is the fact. Since 2001, we have lost almost 60,000 factories and millions of good-paying jobs. I'm not saying trade is the only reason, but it is a significant reason why Americans are working longer hours for low wages and why we are seeing our jobs go to China and other low-wage countries. And, finally, what you're seeing in Congress are Democrats and some Republicans beginning to stand up and say, maybe we should have a trade policy which represents the working families of this country, that rebuilds our manufacturing base, not than just representing the CEOs of large multinational corporations.

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: CBS Face the Nation 2015 coverage:2016 presidential hopefuls

Hillary Clinton on Free Trade : Apr 27, 2015
TPP must produce jobs, raise wages, & protect security

An MSNBC reporter asked Clinton on April 21 whether she had concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement the Obama administration is in the process of negotiating, According to CBS, Clinton responded, "Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security. We have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and the skills to be competitive. It's got to be really a partnership between our business, our government, our workforce, the intellectual property that comes out of our universities, and we have to get back to a much more focused effort in my opinion to try to produce those capacities here at home so that we can be competitive in a global economy."
Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: National Journal 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Bernie Sanders on Free Trade : Apr 19, 2015
Wrong, wrong, wrong that trade deals create jobs here

Q: As secretary of state, Clinton said she favored a trade deal with our 11 Pacific partners & fast track authority to make that happen. Is that an issue for you?

SANDERS: In the House and Senate, I voted against all of these terrible trade agreements, NAFTA, CAFTA, permanent normal trades relations with China. Republicans and Democrats, they say, "oh, we'll create all these jobs by having a trade agreement with China." Well, the answer is, they were wrong, wrong, wrong. Over the years, we have lost millions of decent paying jobs. These trade agreements have forced wages down in America so the average worker in America today is working longer hours for lower wages.

Q: So, is that a litmus test for you, to see whether or not Clinton is going to come out against the TPP?

SANDERS: I hope very much the secretary comes out against it. I think we do not need to send more jobs to low wage countries. I think corporate America has to start investing in this country and create decent paying jobs here.

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Bernie Sanders on Free Trade : Mar 21, 2015
End disastrous NAFTA, CAFTA, and PNTR with China

Since 2001 we have lost more than 60,000 factories in this country, and more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs. We must end our disastrous trade policies (NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, etc.) which enable corporate America to shut down plants in this country and move to China and other low-wage countries. We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies which demand that American corporations create jobs here, and not abroad.
Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: 2016 presidential campaign website,

Mike Huckabee on Foreign Policy : Mar 7, 2015
Globalists & corporatists are making US more like China

Expressing deep skepticism of proposed free trade agreements, Mike Huckabee warned in Iowa that the US is becoming like communist China. The former Arkansas governor recalled a trip he took to China last year during his appearance at an agricultural summit that drew a number of potential Republican 2016 candidates to the state fairgrounds.

"In China, I felt like they were becoming more like America used to be," he told a crowd of some 900 activists. "But, sadly, America is becoming more like they used to be. Our government is becoming more oppressive; theirs is beginning to ease up. We have a lot of globalists and frankly corporatists instead of having nationalists who put forward the best interests of the United States and working families," he added.

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: coverage of 2015 Iowa Agricultural Summit

Mike Huckabee on Free Trade : Mar 7, 2015
Trans Pacific Partnership isn't fair trade or free trade

Huckabee complained that American wages have been stagnant since Chinese trade agreements went into effect over the past few decades: "People are working hard, and they have less to show for it," he said. "We need to quit apologizing for being America, and we need to start making it so that Americans can prosper and not just so that the Chinese can buy Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags."

The comments came in response to questions about why the government has kept the embargo in place against Cuba, even as trade barriers with China have been lifted. "We have basically surrendered to the Chinese market," Huckabee said. "We've not put the pressure on them."

Huckabee expressed doubts over the Trans Pacific Partnership. "If it's not fair trade," he said, "it's not free trade."

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: coverage of 2015 Iowa Agricultural Summit

Bernie Sanders on Free Trade : Jan 15, 2015
Stop TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Trade Policies that Benefit American Workers:
Since 2001 we have lost more than 60,000 factories in this country, and more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs. We must end our disastrous trade policies (NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, etc.) which enable corporate America to shut down plants in this country and move to China and other low-wage countries. We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies which demand that American corporations create jobs here, and not abroad.

[We should also] sign the petition to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership--another trade deal disaster.

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: 12 Steps Forward, by Sen. Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton on Corporations : Dec 10, 2014
OpEd: Disagrees with progressives on corporatism & military

Is Hillary a progressive? The answer is unambiguously no; Hillary is a liberal centrist. Progressives support "fair trade," which means that free trade agreements should include environmental and labor clauses; Hillary is an ardent free-trader. WikiLeaks' Julian Assange is a hero to progressives who believe in open government and oppose secrecy, but a traitor to Hillary. Progressives ardently oppose military intervention abroad; Hillary is a hawk. And progressives are ardently anti-corporate, while Hillary is pro-corporate.

Often the difference is a matter of degree: progressives would tax capital gains as regular income; Hillary might only moderately increase it, as illustrated in this exchange:

The capital gains tax under Bill Clinton was 28%. It's now 15%.

CLINTON: I wouldn't raise it above the 20% if I raised it at all. I would not raise it above what it was during the Clinton administration.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Jeb vs. Hillary On The Issues, by Jesse Gordon, p.37,66,&168

Hillary Clinton on Free Trade : Aug 24, 2014
Chief advocate for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Within the populist Democratic movement, there is a rising tide against once-popular trade deals. Clinton has been involved with many of the pacts from her time as first lady, in the Senate and finally, as part of the Obama administration.

Clinton saw herself in the middle of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) during her husband's presidency. She supported deals with Oman, Chile and Singapore during her tenure in the Senate. As secretary of State, she was a chief advocate as talks commenced surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), one of the largest worldwide deals in recent history.

Many proponents of the agreements argue that negotiations need to take place in secret in order to protect the fragile interests of participating countries. This has not sat well with public interest groups and more liberal members of the Democratic Party.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Megan R. Wilson in weblog, "Clinton vs. Warren"

Lindsey Graham on Free Trade : Jan 1, 2014
NAFTA drained away textile trade from Upstate SC

In May 2004, in anticipation of growing the business with a large customer I signed a 3-year warehouse lease. Unfortunately, the textile trade which was huge in the Upstate was draining away as a result of NAFTA and other government policies.

When that customer bailed at the last minute, I was stuck with a $15,000-per-month lease in a market flooded with the empty warehouses of once thriving textile businesses. I had made a decision based on the expectation of growing with that customer, but I had been wrong.

By 2006, I continued to see a steady drop as more of my customers were being driven out of business. This left us with over $300,000 of unrecoverable accounts receivable. Although not yet readily apparent to the general public, the American economy was slipping into severe recession. But, of course, the Federal government is always there to help, right?

Click for Lindsey Graham on other issues.   Source: Lee Bright OpEd on 2014 South Carolina Senate race

John Bolton on Foreign Policy : Aug 5, 2013
International Criminal Court constrains U.S. freedom

Rather than seek discrete political, military, or trade agreements between individual nations, global governance aims to replicate the administrative state at the international level. Proponents of global governance urge vast delegations of authority to regulate domestic and world affairs to unaccountable international institutions; thus, the UN is responsible for international peace and security; and the International Criminal Court can prosecute anyone in the world for war crimes. These institutions will constrain US freedom of action by imposing international "norms" derived from consensus rather than respecting the decisions of constitutional democracy.

In 1986, Pres. Reagan wisely decided to block the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea because it creates an international authority with the right to tax private undersea mining. The Obama administration's efforts to convince the Senate to approve the agreement have proven unavailing.

Click for John Bolton on other issues.   Source: AEI Scholars column: Treaty by decree

Joe Biden on Free Trade : Feb 2, 2013
Permanent normal trade relations to Russia

[Recent internationally] important step enabled us to do some good things: to negotiate, ratify and implement the New START Treaty; to expand economic and trade relationships--including both Russian accession to the WTO and extension of the permanent normal trade relations to Russia; to build a bilateral presidential commission that networks Russian and American officials and publics on the broadest cooperative agenda the US and Russia have ever tried to share.

But we are not naive--neither Russia or the US. We will not agree with Russia on everything. For example, the US will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. These differences are real. But we continue to see opportunities for the US & Russia to partner in ways that advance our mutual security interest & the interest of the international community--whether by safeguarding and reducing nuclear arsenals, or boosting our trade & investment to help each other unlock the enormous innovative potential of our societies.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany

Marco Rubio on Foreign Policy : Nov 30, 2012
Build relations with Mexico for trade & oil, not just border

Mexico's longstanding economic, social and cultural ties with the US have always made our relations with Mexico important. However, since NAFTA, Mexico has grown to become the US' 3rd-largest commercial partner. Clearly, the need for a positive, productive US-Mexico relationship is driven by far more than the immigration and transnational crime issues.

A strong, prosperous Mexico is good for the US. It represents a large, growing market for a wide variety of US exports. It offers a convenient, economically competitive alternative to China and other Asian countries. And a strong Mexico that produces good, legitimate jobs for its growing population will undermine the appeal of criminal organizations and the enticement of undocumented employment in the US.

[We should also] implement the trans-boundary hydrocarbons agreement signed by the US and Mexico in February, which allows international oil companies to join Mexico in joint exploration and development in the Gulf of Mexico.

Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: McClatchy-Tribune editorial, "US-Mexico," by Marco Rubio

Condoleezza Rice on Free Trade : Aug 29, 2012
China has signed 15 agreements in time Obama signed only 3

We must work for an open, global economy, and pursue free and fair trade, to grow our exports and our influence abroad. If you are worried about the rise of China, just consider this--the US has ratified only three trade agreements in the last few years, and those were negotiated in the Bush administration. China has signed 15 free trade agreements and is in the progress of negotiating as many as 18 more. Sadly, we are abandoning the field of free and fair trade and it will come back to haunt us.
Click for Condoleezza Rice on other issues.   Source: 2012 Republican National Convention speech

Barack Obama on Free Trade : Jan 24, 2012
Double US exports via deals with Panama, Colombia, & S.Korea

Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling US exports over five years. With the bipartisan trade agreements I signed into law, we are on track to meet that goal--ahead of schedule. Soon, there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Chicago.

I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2012 State of the Union speech

Jon Huntsman on Foreign Policy : Nov 12, 2011
80 million bloggers in China will take China down

Romney: The US should go before the WTO and bring an action against China as a currency manipulator. People say, "Well, you'll start a trade war." There's one going on right now, folks. They're stealing our jobs. And we're going to stand up to China.

Huntsman: I've tried to figure this out for 30 years of my career. First of all, I don't think, Mitt, you can take China to the WTO on currency-related issues. Second, I don't know that this country needs a trade war with China. Who does it hurt? Our small businesses in South Carolina; our exporters; our agriculture producers. We don't need that at a time when China is about to embark on a generational position. So what should we be doing? We should be reaching out to our allies & constituencies within China. They're called the young people. They're called the internet generation. There are 500 million internet users in China. And 80 million bloggers. And they are bringing about change, the likes of which is going to take China down.

Click for Jon Huntsman on other issues.   Source: 2011 debate in South Carolina on Foreign Policy

Rick Perry on Free Trade : Sep 23, 2011
NAFTA is largest job stimulus of the decade

Rick Perry has a long record of public statements in support of free trade. "NAFTA is the largest job stimulus packet to come along this decade," said then-Agriculture Secretary Perry in 1993, "Instead of building trade barriers against Mexico, we need to tear them down and make it as easy to trade with Mexico as Kansas and Nebraska."

"Export markets are the future of agriculture," Perry said in 1994. "NAFTA is one of the tools that we have gotten." In 1993, he praised the GATT Agreement as a "good deal for Texas agriculture". More recently, Perry has said that he will "be urging 'our friends in Washington' not to enact regulations that would hinder free trade.

Perry did support price supports for farmers as a candidate for Agriculture Commissioner in 1990, but he has also bashed Republicans for supporting tariffs on steel.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #10: Perry

Gary Johnson on Free Trade : Jul 21, 2011
No tariffs, no restrictions; but no corporatism

On trade, Johnson "generally supports NAFTA and other free-trade agreements," In a June 9 segment on John Stossel's program on Fox Business, Johnson "debated" Obama impersonator Reggie Brown and said he wanted "no tariffs, no restrictions" on trade. He did sound a little squishy on trade in a March 2011 interview when he said that "So much of the legislation that we pass isn't really free market at all. It's touted as free market, when the reality ends up to be very corporate. The reality ends up to be corporatism. I was always looking at business legislation from the standpoint of having it affect everyone equally as opposed to big business being further advantaged. So many of these treaties--NAFTA being one--the criticism of NAFTA should be rooted in the fact that big business became even bigger business."
Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #9: Johnson

Jon Huntsman on Free Trade : Jun 22, 2011
Establish a Free Trade Area of the Americas

Huntsman served as Deputy United States Trade Representative for Pres. George W. Bush. "Promoting open markets promotes democratic values in those markets and enhances opportunities for American farmers, workers, entrepreneurs, and families," said Huntsman in a press release at the time. "With the US party to only two of the 130 free trade agreements worldwide, it is crucial to get off the sidelines by launching a new WTO trade round and establishing a Free Trade Area of the Americas. Trade Promotion Authority, the President's top trade goal, is important for both."

In 2002, Huntsman called NAFTA "a success beyond anyone's expectations. It has allowed the average family to save in terms of what they pay for goods, products that would otherwise carry a higher cost." Indeed, Huntsman seemed to demonstrate an understanding that free markets lead to economic growth. He said in May of 2011 that imposing tariffs on Chinese imports "would throw us into a depression."

Click for Jon Huntsman on other issues.   Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #8: Huntsman

Rick Santorum on Free Trade : Jun 6, 2011
1993: Voted against NAFTA because it hurt PA industries

In perhaps the most important free trade vote of the last generation, Santorum voted against NAFTA in 1993. Days before the vote, he said, "NAFTA will produce pockets of winners and losers across the country. Our area is unfortunately one of the losers." That analysis, while arguably correct with regard to a small number of industries in Pennsylvania, ignores the fact that every single consumer in Pennsylvania benefited tremendously from NAFTA, as well as did many more affected industries.

As a member of the Senate Steel Caucus , Santorum voted for and co-sponsored a bill to slap tariffs on imported steel in 1999.

In 2005, Santorum voted in support of an amendment that would impose a massive, job-killing 27.5% tariff on all Chinese imports if China didn't readjust their currency upward.

In 1997, Santorum sponsored a proposal that would impose a one-cent tax on imported honey with the proceeds going to the National Honey Board to aid in their research, a special interest giveaway.

Click for Rick Santorum on other issues.   Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #4: Santorum

Newt Gingrich on Free Trade : May 24, 2011
Supported NAFTA, GATT, WTO, and MFN

Gingrich has been a reliable advocate for free international trade, and a critic of both the politics and economics of protectionism.Evidence of any pro-protectionism support is scant. However, Gingrich did vote YES to keep trade-distorting peanut subsidies in 1985, although he later voted against them in 1990.
Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #1: Gingrich

Barack Obama on Free Trade : Jan 26, 2011
Double our exports by 2014; starting with South Korea

To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014--because the more we export, the more jobs we create here at home. Already, our exports are up. Recently, we signed agreements with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs here in the US. And last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs. This agreement has unprecedented support from business and labor, Democrats and Republicans--and I ask this Congress to pass it as soon as possible.

Before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers and promote American jobs. That's what we did with Korea, and that's what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2011 State of the Union speech

Rand Paul on Foreign Policy : Nov 1, 2010
Exit the UN; maintain US sovereignty

Q: Do you support U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations?

A: Yes.

Q: Will you support legislation that forbids U.S. troops from serving under United Nations command?

A: Yes.

Q: Will you support the American Sovereignty Act to restrict the Executive's ability to forge international agreements that lessen our sovereignty?

A: Yes.

Q: Will you oppose the so-called "NAFTA Superhighway" and any move toward a North American Union?

A: Yes.

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: Campaign for Liberty survey of 2010 Congressional candidates

Marco Rubio on Free Trade : Aug 11, 2010
Continue reducing barriers to free and fair trade

We must continue reducing barriers to free and fair trade. We should adopt the free trade agreements that have already been negotiated with Colombia, Panama, South Korea and other nations around the world. We should also insist that other countries reduce their own barriers to trade so that American goods can find new markets.
Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: 2010 Senate campaign website, "Reclaim"

Barack Obama on Free Trade : Oct 15, 2008
We export only 4,000 cars to Korea; that’s not free trade!

McCAIN: When Sen. Obama said he would unilaterally renegotiate NAFTA, the Canadians said, “Yes, and we’ll sell our oil to China.”

OBAMA: For far too long, certainly during the course of the Bush administration with the support of Sen. McCain, the attitude has been that any trade agreement is a good trade agreement. And NAFTA did not have enforceable labor agreements and environmental agreements.

And what I said was we should include those and make them enforceable. In the same way that we should enforce rules against China manipulating its currency to make our exports more expensive and their exports to us cheaper.

And when it comes to South Korea, we’ve got a trade agreement up right now, they are sending hundreds of thousands of South Korean cars into the US. That’s all good. We can only get 4,000 to 5,000 into South Korea. That is not free trade. We’ve got to have a president who is going to advocate on behalf of American businesses and American workers and I make no apology for that

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain

Barack Obama on Free Trade : Aug 25, 2008
China trade deal does too little on fairness & compliance

For America to win, American workers have to win, too. That's why I opposed NAFTA, it's why I opposed CAFTA, and it's why I said any agreement I would support had to contain real, enforceable standards for workers.

That's why I believe the Permanent Normalized Trade agreement with China didn't do enough to ensure fairness and compliance.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p.173

Barack Obama on Free Trade : Jul 1, 2008
NAFTA protects corporate profits; should protect labor

Here is an excerpt from the Obama speech:

"It's a Washington where George Bush hands out billions in tax cuts year after year to the biggest corporations and the wealthiest few who don't need them and don't ask for them.

"A Washington where decades of trade deals like NAFTA and China have been signed with plenty of protections for corporations and their profits, but none of our environment or our workers who've seen factories shut their doors and millions of jobs disappear, workers whose right to organize and unionize has been under assault for the last eight years.

"And it's a Washington that has thrown open its doors to lobbyists an special interests who've riddled our tax code with loopholes that let corporations avoid paying their taxes while you're paying more."

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p. 30

Barack Obama on Free Trade : Jul 1, 2008
Assist workers who lose globalization's race to the bottom

Obama comments, "But the larger problem is what's missing from our prevailing policy on trade and globalization--namely, meaningful assistance for those who are not reaping its benefits and a plan to succeed in a twenty-first century economy. So far, almost all of our energy and almost all of these trade agreements are about making life easier for the winners of globalization, while we do nothing as life gets harder for American workers."

Obama adds, "But this is about more than displaced workers. Our failure to respond to globalization is causing a race to the bottom that means lower wages and stingier health and retiree benefits for all Americans. It's causing a squeeze on middle-class families who are working in this new economy. As one downstate (Illinois) worker told me during a recent visit, 'It doesn't do me much good if I'm saving a dollar on a T-shirt in Wal-Mart, but don't have a job.'"

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p.117-118

Barack Obama on Free Trade : Jul 1, 2008
Peru trade OK because it includes labor & enviro protections

While Obama has been an advocate of free trade, he sees the need to make sure that it is fairly regulated. The original trade agreements written primarily by the law firms of big corporations were very careful to derive protections for international property, intellectual property rights, and the enforcement of contracts necessary to do business effectively. They were almost completely devoid of any regulation to protect the consumer, the environment, or the worker. Obama has supported trade agreements with countries like Peru that have been properly structured to include these provisions, but is insistent that trade agreements like NAFTA be renegotiated to include such provisions.

Obama understands that we cannot allow trade with countries like China if they are not going to respect the rights of workers and consumers.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p.124

Jesse Ventura on Free Trade : Apr 1, 2008
NAFTA reservations: Mexican labor conditions & US job loss

Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, hundreds of factories called maquiladoras have sprung up. There they make goods on the cheap and ship them back across the border.

President Clinton predicted this would be a boon to everyone. It certainly has been for the corporations, which have cut back their labor costs and increased their profits. Thousands of workers from Mexico's poorest southern states make the equivalent of little more than $4 a day. But it's better than having no job at all.

I'm a staunch capitalist, and I was a big supporter of NAFTA in the beginning. Today, I have a lot of reservations about what it's brought about. NAFTA has resulted in hundreds of thousands of job losses in the US, because employers moved south of the border. Half of the people working in these Mexican maquiladoras are women, and there is also child labor, and long hours, with no right to unionize. They're really nothing more than sweatshops, in a lot of cases.

Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 99-100

Hillary Clinton on Homeland Security : Mar 25, 2008
Long-held pro-defense spending stance; not a move to center

As long as she has been in public life, Clinton has held many positions that are ordinarily associated with Republicans, supporting the death penalty, numerous free-trade agreements, and high defense spending, to name a few. She was also a strong and early supporter of the Iraq war (though she became a critic as the war dragged on). Yet these positions are not only not taken as evidence that she is in fact a centrist, they are used as evidence of insincere political calculation. She has often been characterized as MOVING to the center in preparation for a presidential run, even when her position on the issue in question has remained unchanged.

For Clinton, long-held positions, like a hawkish approach to military affairs, are taken as evidence of a shift. And the prevailing assumption is that when she breaks with some in her party (or even when she sticks with her party) it is for crass political purposes and not an outgrowth of genuine conviction.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Free Ride, by David Brock and Paul Waldman, p.134-135

Hillary Clinton on Free Trade : Jan 24, 2008
AdWatch: Supported NAFTA in 1998; opposed CAFTA since 2005

Obama released a radio ad in S.C., in which the narrator says, “Hillary Clinton championed NAFTA even though it has cost South Carolina thousands of jobs. It’s what’s wrong with politics today. Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected.”

The ad’s claim that Clinton “championed NAFTA” is misleading. It is true that Clinton once praised the North American Free Trade Agreement that her husband championed. As recently as 1998, she praised business leaders for mounting “a very effective business effort in the U.S. on behalf of NAFTA.“

But her position on trade shifted before her presidential run: In 2005, for example, she voted against the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and she told Time in 2007 that ”I believe in the general principles [NAFTA] represented, but what we have learned is that we have to drive a tougher bargain.“

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: FactCheck's AdWatch on 2008 Clinton radio ad on Free Trade

Barack Obama on Free Trade : Jan 21, 2008
Enforce environmental & labor provisions in trade agreements

EDWARDS: [to Obama]: The problem with the Peru trade agreement [which Obama voted for] is you are leaving the enforcement of environmental and labor regulations in the hands of George Bush. I wouldn’t trust George Bush to enforce anything, certainly not trade obligations.

OBAMA: Well, in a year’s time, it’ll be me who’s enforcing them. We’re going to make sure that the right thing is being done. It is absolutely critical for us to understand that NAFTA was an enormous problem. The permanent trade relations with China, without some of the enforcement mechanisms that were in there, that you voted for, was also a significant problem. And we’ve got to all move forward as Democrats to make sure that we’ve got trade deals that work for working people and not just for corporate profits.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate

Mike Huckabee on Free Trade : Jan 13, 2008
Supports NAFTA & CAFTA, if partners “hafta” abide by rules

Q: If you were president, you wouldn’t go forward with another version of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or any of these other free-trade agreements that are in the works right now?

A: No, I think the free-trade agreements are wonderful to have, and I supported NAFTA and CAFTA. But I always say, then you “hafta” make sure that these free trade agreements are being abided by both parties, and that’s not what’s happened.

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: FOX News Sunday tag

Mike Huckabee on Free Trade : Jan 13, 2008
Fair trade includes lead-free products & playing by rules

Q: What would you do to deal with this economic crisis?

A: The main thing we have to do is to make sure that our free trade agreements involve fair trade. And that’s something that we’ve got to do a better job of enforcing, is to make sure that those products which are coming into the US are free of lead, that they’re safe, that they’re manufactured in the same kind of standards that we expect our American companies to use when they built things. And that hasn’t happened. And one of the reasons we’re losing a lot of jobs is that we’ve been in such a rush to make sure that we exemplify the boundaries of free trade, that we forgot that we’re all supposed to play by the same rules. If somebody cheats, you’re not playing the game fairly. When the Chinese send toys that have lead, they have dog food that causes our pets to die, when we have food that comes to us contaminated, when things that are created by people who have worked in sweatshops--how does an American worker expect to compete?

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: FOX News Sunday tag

Joe Biden on Corporations : Dec 13, 2007
We’ve yielded to corporate America on trade

Q: Given the WTO guidelines, could you actually restrict trade with China?

A: With the WTO guidelines, we could stop these [unsafe] products coming in now. This president doesn’t act. We have much more leverage on China than they have on us. The idea that a country with 800 million people in poverty has greater leverage over us is preposterous. We’ve yielded to corporate America. We’ve yielded to this president’s notion of what constitutes trade, and we’ve refused to enforce the laws that exist.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate

Barack Obama on Free Trade : Dec 13, 2007
NAFTA needs to be amended

There’s no doubt that NAFTA needs to be amended. I’ve already said I would contact the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Canada to make sure that labor agreements are enforceable. But I did want to just go back briefly to the issue of trade and human rights that you had mentioned. We have to stand for human rights, and that should be part of the trade equation.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate

Joe Biden on Free Trade : Dec 13, 2007
Built environmental and labor standards in trade agreements

Every new trade agreement should have built into it what we all talk about. Environmental standards and labor standards. But we talk about it in terms of preserving jobs here, but it’s also about human rights. Signing an agreement knowing they’re going to exploit workers either by polluting their lungs or their drinking water and/or putting them in a position where they’re getting paid a couple bucks a week. So it should be a condition to every trade agreement that we engage in.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate

Joe Biden on Free Trade : Nov 22, 2007
Opposes fast-track to protect labor rights

Defend Workers in Trade Negotiations: Joe Biden believes that US trade negotiations must protect American workers by insisting on basic labor and environmental standards. That’s why he opposed CAFTA and fast track authority for President Bush. He will continue to fight for better labor and environmental standards in trade agreements and will oppose new trade agreements that don’t meet high standards.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2008 Senate campaign website,, “Issues”

Hillary Clinton on Free Trade : Nov 11, 2007
Criticized trade pacts for weak labor standards

Now courting labor and the environmentalist crowd, Hillary Clinton has come out against a trade pact with South Korea, but as senator, she has voted in support of free trade pacts with Oman, Chile and Singapore, even though she criticized them for what she said was their weak enforcement of international labor standards. In fact, she’s voted for every trade agreement that has come before her except CAFTA, the Central American version of NAFTA, the pact the public has heard the most about.
Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 17

Hillary Clinton on Free Trade : Oct 30, 2007
FactCheck: for NAFTA while First Lady; now against CAFTA

Barack Obama accused Clinton of flip-flops on trade. Obama said, “Senator Clinton in her campaign has been for NAFTA previously, now she’s against it.”

Obama is partly right concerning the North American Free Trade Agreement. Clinton’s views on NAFTA have shifted, but they shifted prior to her official run for the White House. Back in 1998, in a keynote speech given at the Davos Economic Summit, Clinton praised business leaders for mounting “a very effective business effort in the US on behalf of NAFTA,“ adding later that ”it is certainly clear that we have not by any means finished the job that has begun.“ But by 2005 she was expressing reservations about free trade agreements, voting that year against the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). And she told Bloomberg News in March 2007 that, while she still believes in free trade, she supports a freeze on new trade agreements--something she calls ”a little time-out.“

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: FactCheck on 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University

Hillary Clinton on Free Trade : Oct 23, 2007
Though Bill supported it, Hillary opposed NAFTA

Liberal Democrats, including Hillary, opposed NAFTA primarily because it could take jobs away from American workers.
Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: For Love of Politics, by Sally Bedell smith, p.117

Mitt Romney on Jobs : Oct 9, 2007
I believe in domestic supports for our agriculture industry

Q: We subsidized farmers to the tune of $26 billion last year.

A: I believe in domestic supports for our agriculture industry. I don’t want to see our food supply be in the same kind of a jeopardy situation that our energy supply is in. And clearly there’s a responsibility of government to make sure that our farmers are treated on the same basis as farmers in Europe & other markets that we compete with. The WTO talks [may] find a way to bring down subsidies around the world, & that’ll be good news.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan

Mike Huckabee on Free Trade : Sep 17, 2007
No NAFTA Superhighway from Canada to Mexico

Q: As president, do you support the NAFTA “Superhighway” presently under construction from Mexico to Canada, portions of which shall be under foreign control?
Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: [Xref Hunter] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate

Barack Obama on Free Trade : Aug 26, 2007
Stand firm against CAFTA for labor & environmental standards

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 improved labor and environmental standards around the world and stand firm against agreements like the Central Amercan Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) that fail to live up to those important standards.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2008 Presidential campaign website, “Flyers”

Hillary Clinton on Free Trade : Aug 19, 2007
Export from big agribusiness, but also from small farmers

Q: How do you protect American jobs without setting up a situation where other countries discriminate against the things we’re trying to export, particularly agricultural exports?

A: We do export a lot of agricultural goods, many of that through trade agreements. And I think we’ve got to do three things.

  1. We have to have more focus on family farms. We’ve got to do more to make sure trade agreements are not only good for the exporting of agricultural products from great, big agribusiness, but also for small farmers.
  2. We’ve got to do more to build up the agricultural and rural areas of our country.
  3. And trade needs to become a win-win. People ask me, am I a free trader or a fair trader? I want to be a smart, pro-American trader. And that means we look for ways to maximize the impact of what we’re trying to export and quit being taken advantage of by other countries.
    Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week”

    Joe Biden on Free Trade : Aug 7, 2007
    President’s job is to create jobs, not to export jobs

    Q: Would you scrap NAFTA or fix it?

    A: A president’s job is to create jobs, not to export jobs, and the idea that we are not willing to take the prime minister of Canada and the president of Mexico to the mat to make this agreement work is just a lack of presidential leadership. I would lead, I would do that, I would change it.

    Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum

    Barack Obama on Free Trade : Aug 7, 2007
    Amend NAFTA to add labor agreements

    Q: Would you scrap NAFTA or fix it?

    A: I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada to try to amend NAFTA because I think that we can get labor agreements in that agreement right now. And it should reflect the basic principle that our trade agreements should not just be good for Wall Street, it should also be good for Main Street.

    Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum

    Hillary Clinton on Free Trade : Aug 7, 2007
    Smart, pro-American trade: NAFTA has hurt workers

    This past weekend, you expressed some disappointment that NAFTA, in your words, did not realize the benefits that it promised. How would you fix it?

    A: Well, I had said that for many years, that NAFTA and the way it’s been implemented has hurt a lot of American workers. In fact, I did a study in New York looking at the impact of NAFTA on business people, workers and farmers who couldn’t get their products into Canada despite NAFTA. So, clearly we have to have a broad reform in how we approach trade. NAFTA’s a piece of it, but it’s not the only piece of it. I believe in smart trade. Pro-American trade. Trade that has labor and environmental standards, that’s not a race to the bottom but tries to lift up not only American workers but also workers around the world. It’s important that we enforce the agreements we have. That’s why I’ve called for a trade prosecutor, to make sure that we do enforce them. The Bush administration haven’t been enforcing the trade agreements at all.

    Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum

    Hillary Clinton on Free Trade : Aug 7, 2007
    No fast-track authority for this president

    It’s important that we have good information to make judgments. And when I looked at some of the trade agreements that the Bush administration sent our way, I voted against CAFTA. I don’t want to give fast-track authority to this president.
    Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum

    Joe Biden on Free Trade : Jul 12, 2007
    No trade agreements without workers’ & environmental rights

    Q: What would you do to address the issues of unfair trade and the related global issue of unfair labor practices?

    A: Obviously, no trade agreements that do not include workers’ rights and environmental rights. But getting right to it, it seems to me that we have an incredible opportunity here to reassert America’s dominance in the world economic system, and that is by significantly investing in a health care policy that takes the burden off of employers.

    Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum

    Hillary Clinton on Free Trade : Jun 28, 2007
    End tax breaks for outsourcing jobs

    Q [to Sen. Gravel]: A lot of Americans are concerned with outsourcing of US jobs. What’s your solution?

    GRAVEL: Outsourcing is not the problem. What is the problem is our trade agreements that benefit the management & the shareholders.

    CLINTON: Well, outsourcing is a problem, and it’s one that I’ve dealt with as a senator from New York. I started an organization called New Jobs for New York to try to stand against the tide of outsourcing, particularly from upstate New York and from rural areas. We have to do several things: end the tax breaks that still exist in the tax code for outsourcing jobs, have trade agreements with enforceable labor and environmental standards, help Americans compete, which is something we haven’t taken seriously. 65% of kids do not go on to college. What are we doing to help them get prepared for the jobs that we could keep here that wouldn’t be outsourced--and find a new source of jobs, clean energy, global warming, would create millions of new jobs for Americans.

    Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University

    Rahm Emanuel on Free Trade : May 8, 2007
    Pushed through the NAFTA treaty

    Leaders of the labor movement, close allies of Nancy Pelosi, were opposed to Emanuel [as head of the DCCC] because of his role in pushing through the NAFTA treaty, which they despised.
    Click for Rahm Emanuel on other issues.   Source: The Thumpin': Rahm Emanuel, by Naftali Bendavid, Chapter 1

    Hillary Clinton on Free Trade : Oct 11, 2005
    Voted against CAFTA despite Bill Clinton’s pushing NAFTA

    In June 2005, Hillary voted with the bulk of her party against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). While the vote smacked of hypocrisy for many Democratic senators, it was particularly so for Ms. Clinton, whose husband had staked his administration’s prestige on pushing NAFTA through Congress. Hillary also voted against giving the president the authority to submit trade agreements for fast-track approval--Bill Clinton pleaded with Congress annually, & in vain, for just such authority
    Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Condi vs. Hillary, by Dick Morris, p. 85

    Barack Obama on Free Trade : Jun 25, 2004
    Fair trade should have tangible benefits for US

    [Obama believes in] ensuring fair trade by enforcing existing trade agreements. Obama believes any trade agreement must have real, tangible benefits for U.S. business and workers and will work to enforce the trade agreements on the books.
    Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2004 Senate campaign website,

    Gary Johnson on Free Trade : Jan 1, 2001
    NAFTA benefits New Mexico; jobs lost are those we don't want

    Q: What is behind your support of NAFTA?

    A: NAFTA has benefited New Mexico. With each passing day, it's a bigger boom for New Mexico as a border state.

    Q: Do you disagree that NAFTA has caused the "sucking sound" Ross Perot warned of--the sound of US jobs being sucked into Mexico?

    A: My opinion is that the jobs we're talking about are those we generally don't want. What jobs are we saving?

    Q: Manufacturing jobs.

    A: There is shifting, and some companies have relocated to Mexico. But we've benefited far more than we have lost. Also, it's still settling. Intel has a new semiconductor manufacturing plant in Albuquerque, one of the most sophisticated plants on the planet. It is in the US because the workers are qualified and efficient here. If we're not competitive, we had better get competitive. We're moving toward a global economy whether we like it or not.

    Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: David Sheff interview in Playboy Magazine

    Donald Trump on Free Trade : Dec 2, 1999
    World views US trade officials as ‘saps’

    Trump said that US trade officials are viewed as “saps” around the world and have allowed the country to be ripped off in trade agreements. He called NAFTA a disaster and said leaders of other countries “can’t believe how easy it is to deal with the US.” He continued, “We are known as a bunch of saps. We need our best people to negotiate against the Japanese and many other countries.” As president, he would get the nation’s top business leaders - not diplomats - to negotiate for the country.
    Click for Donald Trump on other issues.   Source: Pat Eaton-Robb, Associated Press

    Bernie Sanders on Free Trade : Jun 17, 1997
    NAFTA, GATT, and MFN for China must be repealed

    What about the hemorrhage of jobs abroad? Can we do anything about the disastrous effects of the global economy on American workers? According to the experts, no. But the experts echo the message their employers want us to hear.

    We need to address the issue of trade forthrightly and understand that our current trade policy is an unmitigated disaster. Our current record-breaking merchandise trade deficit of $112 billion is costing us over 2 million decent paying jobs. NAFTA, GATT, and Most Favored Nation status with China must be repealed, and a new trade policy developed.

    Let's look at some of the components of a sensible trade policy. First, we must recognize that trade is not an end in itself. The function of American trade policy must be to improve the standard of living of the American people. America's trade policy must be radically changed, by committing ourselves to a "fair" rather than "free" trade policy.

    Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: Outsider in the House, by Bernie Sanders, p.237

    Bernie Sanders on Free Trade : Jun 17, 1997
    Agreed with Ross Perot's critique of trade policy

    Although I agree with his critique of American trade policy and his opposition to NAFTA, I am no great fan of Ross Perot. There's no way he would be a major political leader if he weren't a billionaire. But I think that he is getting a bum rap from the media when they refer to his half-hour speeches as "infomericals" and make fun of his use of charts. Instead of putting 30-second attack ads on the air, he is trying to seriously discuss some of the most important issues facing the country. You may not agree with his analysis or his conclusions, but at least he's treating the American people with some respect. What's wrong with that?
    Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: Outsider in the House, by Bernie Sanders, p.168

    Bernie Sanders on Free Trade : Jun 17, 1997
    NAFTA was a sellout to corporate America

    At the very same time as health care was on the congressional agenda. Clinton pushed another issue to the forefront. And on the major initiative, Clinton was just plain wrong--very wrong. His support for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was a sellout to corporate America. Pure and simple, it was a disaster for the working people of this country.

    The US currently has a trade deficit of $114 billion. Economists tell us that $1 billion of investment equates to about 18,000 (often decent-paying) jobs. Connect the dots. Our current trade deficit is causing the loss of over 2 million jobs. Over the last 20 years, while the US has run up over a trillion dollars in trade deficits, millions of American workers have been thrown into the streets.

    The function of trade agreements like NAFTA is to make it easier for American companies to move abroad, and to force our workers to compete against desperate people in the Third World.

    Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: Outsider in the House, by Bernie Sanders, p.179-80

    Jerry Brown on Free Trade : Apr 11, 1997
    NAFTA and GATT send jobs to Chinese & Mexican workers

    [Speaking to Texas truckers,] Here in Washington, both the Republicans and Democrats are constantly singing the praises of NAFTA and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs. As for trade here in Oakland, we have a port with trains coming and going throughout the day--130 cars at a time picking up containers that come off dozens of Chinese ships filled by people making $30, maybe $40 a month. And this is this thing they call a global village with all these rules managing the flow of traffic.

    "Very soon these trucks are going to be driven by cheaper workers from south of the border and you're going to be out of a job."

    He understood that he was going to be hurt, eventually, by NAFTA. It hasn't happened yet, but it's pretty hard to stop the logic of that, isn't it? Why should a transport company pay somebody $12 or $13 dollars an hour, when, by just going below the border a few miles, the business can save an enormous amount of money?

    Click for Jerry Brown on other issues.   Source: Dialogues, by Gov. Jerry Brown, p. 46-7

    • Additional quotations related to NAFTA issues can be found under Free Trade.
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