Top Clinton official says she would likely scrap trade deals, start anew

Top Clinton official says she would likely scrap trade deals, start anew
© Getty

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE would probably scrap the nation’s global trade agreements and overhaul U.S. trade policy, a top campaign official said Tuesday.

John Podesta, chairman of her campaign, said Clinton as president likely wouldn't seek to rework existing trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but instead move to adopt a new model for global deals.


“We need a new approach to trade,” Podesta said, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

“We’re not about renegotiation. We’re not kind of interested in that. We’re interested in a new approach,” he said. 

Trade is a hot topic in the presidential campaigns, with Clinton and Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE both trying to appeal to Americans who feel that global trade has hurt U.S. jobs and the economy. 

On Monday, a slew of anti-TPP signs popped up on the floor at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Clinton moved to the left during her primary campaign against Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIn Washington, the road almost never taken Don't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (I-Vt.), who has vigorously opposed trade agreements throughout his career, including the TPP and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

As secretary of State, Clinton promoted the TPP, but she changed her mind and decided to oppose the sweeping 12-nation deal after it was completed in October. NAFTA was ratified by Congress under former President Clinton. 

During the past few weeks, Clinton has ramped up her calls on Congress to forgo a vote on the Pacific agreement after the November elections.

Meanwhile, President Obama is urging lawmakers to back the deal and pass it during the lame-duck session before his leaves office. Not approving it, he warned, risks strategic and economic uncertainty in the Pacific Rim, especially with China working to forge trade deals in the region. 

“What the president chooses to do, whether he thinks that that’s an effective strategy, is up to him, but that is not our strategy," said Podesta  a former member of Obama's White House team, in response to a question as to whether Clinton would try to block a lame-duck vote.

Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KainePanic begins to creep into Democratic talks on Biden agenda Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B Democrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' MORE, who supported fast-track authority last summer for any trade deals that reach Capitol Hill, announced his opposition to the TPP over the weekend.

“They’re against it before the election and against it after the election,” Podesta said. 

On Monday, Podesta met with House Democrats, most of whom already oppose the TPP, and told them where Clinton stands.

“So they know, they well know what our position is," Podesta said.

Only 28 House Democrats supported fast-track last summer. 

Trump also is strongly opposed to the TPP and the NAFTA and has said he would pull the United States out of those deals if the agreements can’t be renegotiated to his satisfaction. 

He ramped up that talk over the weekend, threatening to withdraw United States from the World Trade Organization if he gets push back from its members on his plan to tax U.S. companies that move overseas and want to import their products.

Separately on Tuesday, United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams said Clinton has promised him that if elected she would renegotiate NAFTA, a point she has made in the past, according to a report by Reuters.

On Monday, Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said that Clinton is the only one who can be trusted on trade.

“Secretary Clinton opposes TPP as negotiated and has a plan to change our trade agreements and strengthen enforcement of agreements and trade laws, to specifically address China’s unfair trade practices, to change U.S. tax policy and invest in domestic jobs,” Levin said.