'93 NAFTA Congressional Opponent: "She Never Offered Criticism"
I just got off the phone with Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, a former Congressman that voted against the '93 NAFTA bill which Bill Clinton shepherded through Congress. Barrett was on the phone to announce that he has signed a letter, along with seven other Congressmen that voted against NAFTA in '93, critiquing Clinton for never taking a public stand on NAFTA prior to her bid for president [I'll post the letter as soon as I get it].This would seem to fly in the face her recent claims that she was against NAFTA from the start.
On the call Mayor Barret had stiff words:
My recollection was calls from micky cantor, the president himself, urging to support nafta. “It was absolutely a united front”
I'm not sure what Senator Clinton means when she said she was a critic from the beginning – because she never offered any criticism.
Barrett went on to describe the calls he received from President Clinton, Trade Representative Mickey Kantor, and others all urging him to support the NAFTA bill. Truly, it sounded like a difficult time to be opposing the President's will. As he put it, "It certainly would have been helpful at the time to have an ally in the Whitehouse." I'm sure it would have. It's interesting to note that those who were in the fight, standing up for regions with heavy manufacturing sectors - like Ohio or Wisconsin - don't recall Senator Clinton as an ally in their fight. They can't even find an inkling of her support for their opposition.
Here's the letter:
As members of Congress who voted against NAFTA in 1994, we were surprised to hear the Clinton campaign’s assertion that Senator Hillary Clinton was opposed to NAFTA from the start. It would have been helpful to know we had an ally in the White House back then, but at no time throughout our long fight did Hillary Clinton ever indicate publicly or privately that she was on our side.
As best we could tell, Hillary Clinton shared the Clinton administration’s view that NAFTA would create better jobs and spur faster growth, and that while it might erode workers’ rights and protections, the benefits of the deal would far outweigh its costs.
Those were the promises we heard from the Clinton administration, but as we’ve seen, those promises were not kept. Over a million jobs have been lost, wages have fallen, inequality has widened, and those who’ve been hardest hit are working folks in states like Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Since these states are holding elections in the next few weeks and months, we understand why it’s smart politics for the Clinton campaign to say that Hillary Clinton opposed NAFTA all along – but if she did, it’s news to us.
We’re supporting Senator Barack Obama because as he says, “politics didn’t lead him to working folks; working folks led him to politics.” The reason he became a community organizer more than two decades ago was to help provide job training for the jobless when the local steel plants closed. And as President, he’ll fight for American workers by amending NAFTA and supporting trade deals that work for Main Street, not just Wall Street.
It’s time we had a President who knows that standing up for working Americans isn’t a matter of politics; it’s a matter of principle. And that’s the kind of president we believe Barack Obama will be.
John Conyers (MI-14)
George Miller (CA-07)
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Luis Gutierrez (IL-04)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Rick Boucher (VA-09)
Bobby Scott (VA-03)