Hillary Clinton is now officially against President Obama’s enormous trade agreement with 11 Pacific Rim nations, a policy break that could complicate the deal's chances for passage in Congress even as it helps the Democratic frontrunner solidify her standing with progressives in her party.
Clinton’s opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership, which she announced Wednesday in an interview on the PBS Newshour, is not a shock: Despite the fact that she worked on the accord as secretary of state, she has been distancing herself from TPP for months and notably declined to weigh in on the contentious congressional debate over whether to give Obama the authority he needed to finish it.
But her decision nonetheless remains an important marker in the 2016 race, as Clinton formally abandons the trade legacy of two Democratic presidents—her husband and her former boss. And it might be the clearest sign that Clinton is worried about the challenge she faces from Bernie Sanders, a vociferous opponent of TPP, and the potential for one from Vice President Joe Biden, who supports the agreement.
In the interview with Judy Woodruff, Clinton said she was worried that the deal would not create jobs and raise wages for American workers, which she had previously said would be her standard for judging it. In particular, she cited concerns that the agreement did not adequately address currency manipulation and that it was too favorable to big drug companies—she recently came out in favor of stronger regulations on the price of prescriptions. “As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it,” she said. “I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar that I have.” (Notably, Clinton did leave herself a bit of wiggle room by cautioning that she had not read the lengthy text of the deal, which won’t be public for another month.)