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Why Democrats Soured on Trade

Posted May 04, 2015

Under Economic Issues, International Trade Issues

(Albert R. Hunt – BloombergView)

Two decades ago, President Bill Clinton needed Republican support to win a bitter battle over the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also garnered 40 percent of congressional Democrats, including almost half the party's senators.

President Barack Obama may also win some close trade votes -- first with the approval of a bill giving him so-called fast-track authority to negotiate the huge Trans-Pacific Partnership and then when the deal itself moves through Congress. This time, more than 80 percent of congressional Democrats will oppose the president.

Democrats have turned decidedly protectionist in the decades since the passage of Nafta, a period that coincides with increasing globalization and steep losses of U.S. manufacturing jobs. Even Hillary Clinton is breaking with her husband's free trade record, hinting she may oppose the TPP, which would bind the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. Click here to read more.