Bloomberg columnist Al Hunt challenges President Obama to live up to the standards set by President Clinton, who put national interest ahead of his political constituencies to pursue free trade agreements. From “Obama Needs to Take On Labor Allies in Trade Fight“:
A month ago the labor movement was demoralized, denied legislative victories and appointments. Over the last few weeks, health care, a labor priority, was passed and Obama tapped union counsel Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board, reversing years of an anti-union tilt on the panel, and infuriating much of the business community. With these victories, will labor really wage a war with Obama and other Democrats in this fall’s elections over trade?
One more point: The Obama team loves to contrast their leader and his willingness to take on tough battles with the last Democratic president — remember Bill Clinton’s triangulation? (The tension between top Obama and top Clinton advisers is as raw as ever.)
Seventeen years ago, over the opposition of labor and reservations from Capitol Hill Democrats, President Clinton rallied support to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement. Is Obama not up to the same?
Clinton moved on NAFTA after Congress turned back his health care legislation, so with a victory, President Obama should have even more freedom to move on trade agreements, right?
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