HIllary’s No Free-Trader

Many people who support Hillary Clinton do so because they believe that Hillary Clinton would continue many of the policies that Bill Clinton enacted as President. Hillary Clinton is likely to push more of a progressive and less-libertarian set of policies than those of her husband. Hillary Clinton was one of the leading proponents of universal health care in the Clinton Administration. Now it appears that Hillary Clinton tried to push the Clinton administration in a protectionist direction by opposing NAFTA.

“In August in 92, we had to make a decision,” Mickey Kantor the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Clinton adviser, and free trade advocate recalled for the Huffington Post. “President Clinton had to make a decision as governor, whether or not he would support [George H.W. Bush's] NAFTA, and of course he did… Hillary Clinton was one of the great skeptics in the discussion as to whether he should do. So she was always skeptical beginning in 1992 and onward.”

Indeed, as Kantor went on to note, Hillary Clinton long held reservations over the labor and environmental fallouts of the free trade agreement. In addition, she was, at the time, eager to see her health care reform (not NAFTA) pushed through Congress. As such, Clinton biographer Sally Bedell Smith writes in her book “For Love of Politics,” her disapproval of the trade agreement was both political and philosophical.

The economic team and other key advisors, including Mack McLarty, Mickey Kantor, and David Gergen, were likewise urging Bill to use his momentum to push or congressional ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)…Liberal Democrats, including Hillary, opposed it primarily because it could take jobs away from American workers. But as an advocate of global economic cooperation, Bill was drawn to its free-trade philosophy.

It fell to Mickey Kantor, the U.S. Trade Representative responsible for implementing NAFTA, to reason with Hillary. One day in August, he sat her down on a bench behind the White House and tried to strike a compromise. “I said, ‘If you want to drop NAFTA, we can kill it, but we shouldn’t,’” Kantor recalled. “I said, ‘The way to do it is to introduce health care, spend a month on it, and then do NAFTA, then go back to health care.’” With misgivings, Hillary acquiesced to the proposed sequence.

Carl Bernstein, another Clinton biographer, echoed much the same tale during a recent appearance on CNN.

“‘Bill,’” he recalled Hillary Clinton as saying, “‘you are doing Republican economics when you are doing NAFTA.’ She was against NAFTA.

Hillary Clinton is less likely than her husband Bill Clinton to propose pro-growth, free trade policies which lower prices for the average American consumer.

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