Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump began their debate tonight by sparring over trade, with the two exchanging ideas about how to prevent jobs from going overseas.
Something Trump did not mention was that after Congress failed to pass fast-track powers in 1997 for Bill Clinton’s push for Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China, the first lady personally traveled to Davos, Switzerland, to complain to business elites at the World Economic Forum that they didn’t lobby hard enough.
“The American business community made a very limited effort on behalf of the fast track, left the field completely clear to the rather unusual alliance between the right of the Republican party which is isolationist, anti-American engagement, quite critical and not supportive of the United Nations, IMF or any multilateral group, and the left of the Democratic party that believes that trade authority, and trade agreements, are not in the interests of American workers,” she told them. “So that alliance carried the day. Now when the president comes back to the Congress with a request for fast-track authority, I hope that American business voices will be heard.”
In 2000, the business elite followed Clinton’s advice, passing Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 3.2 million jobs were lost between 2001 and 2013 thanks to the growing trade deficit with China.