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Fri Apr 24, 2015, 01:35 PM


Obama Takes Anti-Worker Criticisms of Trade Deals ‘Personally’ [View all]

Arit John
t aritbenie

President Obama and his agenda get called all sorts of names, but an easy way to strike a nerve is to call his policies "anti-worker."

During a speech on Thursday to Organizing for America—the group that helped campaign for Obama in 2008 and 2012—the president called the Trans-Pacific Partnership the most "progressive" trade agreement in U.S. history and said he takes it "personally" when critics on the left say it will hurt workers.

"[W]hen people say that this trade deal is bad for working families, they don’t know what they’re talking about. I take that personally," Obama said. "My entire presidency has been about helping working families."

“I take that personally.”
President Obama

Obama characterized the Democratic opposition to the trade deal as reflexive, rather than informed. "I’ve got some good friends who are opposed to this trade agreement, but when I ask them specifically what is it that you oppose, they start talking about NAFTA," Obama said, referring to an unpopular free-trade agreement signed under President Clinton. (Both Obama and Hillary Clinton denounced the agreement during the 2008 election.) Obama said that critics "need to tell me what’s wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago."

By good friends, Obama likely meant Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has been a vocal opponent of the deal and Trade Promotion Authority, or "fast track," a bill currently being considered by Congress that would allow Obama's trade deals to pass without amendments. Earlier this week Obama said the two have been "allies on a whole host of issues, but she's wrong on this."



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