An email leaked from John Podesta’s email account in the newest WikiLeaks data dump seems to confirm what many already suspected: Hillary Clinton will flip flop again and support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The controversial free trade agreement, which was initially drafted in secrecy, has been voraciously criticized by economists, information rights activists, environmentalists, and advocacy groups of almost every kind. President Obama has relentlessly promoted it, much to the dismay of its vocal opponents who believe it is ‘NAFTA on steroids.’
The email in question, circa 2015, was sent by Clinton speechwriter Dan Schwerin, who wrote:
“This draft assumes that she’s ultimately going to support both TPA and TPP. It focuses on what needs to happen to produce a positive result with TPP, and casts support for TPA as one of those steps.”
The consensus among most analysts is that TPP would precipitate a number of disastrous corporate-friendly global provisions. Among them, corporations could outsource more jobs while gaining the ability to veto international laws that threaten their profit margins, which would endanger both food safety standards and environmental reforms. The agreement would also threaten wages, benefits, and collective bargaining; additionally, information rights activists say TPP would spread restrictive Intellectual Property laws across the world and even endanger journalists and whistleblowers.
In his assessment of the “Intellectual Property Rights” section, Noam Chomsky stated:
“[It] means highly protectionist measures to ensure the exorbitant profits of American and international pharmaceutical and media corporations. That is anti-free trade. It is extreme protectionism in the interests of very wealthy and powerful parts of the corporate system.”
Common Dreams described the TPP as “a global race to the bottom.”
The TPP became a central issue in the Democratic primaries after Clinton went from supporting the agreement and saying she hoped it would be the “gold standard” of trade agreements to saying she opposed it. Many observers viewed the move as merely a political calculation to help Clinton compete against the anti-TPP populism of Bernie Sanders.
During the primaries, the Panama Papers were leaked, which created a public backlash against the Panama free trade agreement of 2011 — a deal Clinton supported. The Panama Papers intensified Sanders’ campaign rhetoric against so-called free trade agreements of the past, including NAFTA, and underscored the dangers of TPP.
In the recently leaked email, Clinton speechwriter Schwerin follows the statement about TPP with a refrain of Clinton’s public position.
“[The draft] also says that we should walk away if the final agreement doesn’t meet the test of creating more jobs than it displaces, helping the middle class, and strengthening our national security.”
While the email is certainly not proof of an already established plan by Clinton to support the TPP, it raises major concerns. Why would her speechwriter have written a draft that assumes she will lend her support to something she ostensibly opposes?