Sometimes the two parties just aren’t that far apart during campaign season, and in a populist moment such as the one we’re experiencing right now that axiom is being proven true on the subject of free trade and job outsourcing. Currently, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders seem to be in a battle to see which one of them can sound the most like Donald Trump when it comes to offshoring American jobs, but Clinton is being hit with yet another vignette from her long history of paid speeches. Fox News dredged up an old clip of her from 2005 speaking to a group of business leaders in India where she indicated that there was no way around a bunch of American jobs heading their way and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Let’s take a look.
Here’s the money quote:
“It is an inevitability. There is no way to legislate against reality, so I think the outsourcing will continue.”
That’s a rather convenient position to take, since her husband really kicked off the job outsourcing glut to begin with. But the duplicitous nature of Clinton’s approach was on display when she addressed a group of labor leaders in Detroit at the same time. Here’s how it was described in the Toledo Blade after the fact:
Speaking from the heart of automotive manufacturing, Hillary Clinton on Friday called for a federal minimum wage boost and tax penalties against companies that outsource jobs.
“I do want to send a clear message to every boardroom and executive suite — if you cheat your employees, you exploit your customers, you pollute our environment or rip off the taxpayers, we will hold you accountable,” she said, in a speech to about 200 supporters. “If you desert America, you’ll pay a price.”
Those with slightly longer memories will recall that this isn’t the first time that the subject of this clip has come up. In 2007, as Clinton was gearing up for her first battle with Barack Obama, the same video was highlighted at the Washington Post. At the time, labor leaders were on the fence as to who they should support in the primary and they didn’t care for this at all.
Despite aggressive courtship by Democratic candidates, major unions such as the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union have withheld their endorsements as they scrutinize the candidates’ records and solicit views on a variety of issues.
High on the agenda of union officials is an explanation of how each candidate will try to stem the loss of U.S. jobs, including large numbers in the service and technology sectors that are being taken over by cheap labor in India. During the vetting, some union leaders have found Clinton’s record troubling.
“The India issue is still something people are concerned about. Her financial relationships, her quotes — they have both gotten attention,” said Thea M. Lee, policy director for the AFL-CIO.
Clinton seems to have locked up the labor union endorsements this year, but you can expect the Sanders campaign to make some hay out of this. If Bernie is smart he won’t simply focus on that one speech, but rather how it is just one of myriad examples of Clinton running around to various groups and saying one thing in private meetings while preaching something else in public. Her dedication to the principles that both she and Sanders claim to support is a mile wide and an inch deep. If Sanders had a more competent political organization he could be hitting her much harder on subjects like this (as well as her emails and who knows how many more scandals) and gaining additional traction. But as long as he’s willing to remain passive and play the nice guy inside the Democratic tent it will probably be a waste of time.