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Tags: Hillary | fast track | Obama | Nichols

Nation's Nichols: Hillary Must Oppose Fast-Track Bill to Prove Her Populist Chops

By    |   Wednesday, 22 April 2015 06:00 AM EDT

Hillary Clinton has been an official presidential candidate for only a week, but already she's receiving hard pressure from the left.

The latest comes from John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation. His bone of contention: congressional legislation to grant President Obama fast-track authority to complete a trade agreement with Asia.

"As she launches a 2016 presidential campaign in which she seems to be interested in grabbing the banner of economic populism, Clinton can and should stake out a clear position in opposition to granting President Obama Trade Promotion Authority to negotiate a sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership," Nichols writes.

There's "overwhelming opposition from labor, farm, environmental, and social-justice groups" for the fast-track legislation, Nichols says.

"Yet, so far, Clinton's office has offered only a statement about how she is 'watching closely' as the debate evolves and a suggestion that she wants 'greater prosperity and security for American families, not trade for trade's sake."

Moderates from both parties support the fast-track authority, because of the great benefits our economy receives from free trade.

"Instead of sticking with Obama on this issue (or, worse yet, trying to avoid taking a stance), she should stick with principles she embraced as a senator. In 2002, she opposed granting President Bush fast-track authority," he notes.

"And, as a candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, she won states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania at least in part because she declared that 'The United States should be pursuing trade agreements that promote human rights and worker rights, not overlook egregious abuses.'"

Meanwhile, recent comments by Hillary questioning whether it is fair that many hedge fund managers and CEOs pay a lower tax rate than average workers do have drawn concern in the finance industry that she's anti-Wall Street.

But that's not the case says Steven Rattner, czar of the auto bailout for Obama and now chairman of Willet Advisors, which manages Michael Bloomberg's philanthropic assets.

"She has been someone who — I'm going to call her constructive on Wall Street — believes that Wall Street has a role to play in the economy," Rattner tells CNBC. "She believes that our capital markets are the best in the world and have a role to play in our enormous success."

To some extent it seems Clinton can't win regardless of how she approaches the financial industry. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party has complained that she is too chummy with Wall Street.

As for any criticism by her, "it's become clear that Wall Street does not always act constructively in the country's interests, so she can change her mind," Rattner notes.

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Hillary Clinton has been an official presidential candidate for only a week, but already she's receiving hard pressure from the left.
Hillary, fast track, Obama, Nichols
Wednesday, 22 April 2015 06:00 AM
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