Bernie Sanders photo

Interview with Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC

May 11, 2015

MITCHELL: Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, Independent Senator who strongly opposes the trade deal. On Friday, President Obama criticized fellow Democrats fighting the deal, especially Elizabeth Warren, saying they're plain wrong. So far Hillary Clinton is trying to stay out of the fray.

Senator Sanders joins me now. Thank you, Senator. Thanks for being with us.

SANDERS: My pleasure.

MITCHELL: Tell me why you're right and President Obama is wrong.

SANDERS: I'll tell you why. Andrea, the middle class of this country has been disappearing for 40 years. Despite a huge increase in technology and productivity, we have millions of Americans who are working longer hours for low wages. Since 2001, we have lost some 60,000 factories in America and millions of good paying manufacturing jobs.

Why is that? How did that happen? Well, there are a number of reasons. But it think central to that are disastrous trade agreements, which have allowed corporate America to shut down in this country, move to Mexico, move to China, move to other low wage countries, produce their products there and then bring those back into the United States. The TPP, in my view, is a continuation of disastrous trade policies. Enough is enough. We need new approaches to trade which creates jobs in America and not in China.

MITCHELL: Of course, what the president says is that things would be worse if not for trade agreements, that this trade agreement is better than previous trade agreements, has better protections and that it's wrong to blame all the ills of the shrinking -- growing wage disparity, shrinking wage increases, shrinking manufacturing base on trade agreements.

SANDERS: Well, again, I was on the floor of the Senate a couple of weeks ago. You know what I was doing? I was reading the quotes from what people like President Clinton and Mitch McConnell and all of the advocates of unfitted free trade, all oft he right-wing think tanks, all of the corporate people, all of the wonderful things that they promised us if we pass free trade with China or [inaudible] et cetera, et cetera. It turned out that in almost every instance they were wrong.

I'm not saying that trade alone is the reason why the middle class is disappearing. I am saying, and we have all kinds of economic studies to back it up, that it's one of the central factors. Look, nobody doubts that corporations have shut down in America and gone to low wage countries. It makes sense to them. Why do they want to pay an American worker $15 to $20 an hour when you can go to Vietnam? You know what the minimum wage in Vietnam is? It's 56 cents an hour there. That's what corporate America wants.

So I think when you have all of the corporations, when you have Wall Street and the drug companies telling us that this is a really good agreement and meanwhile, you have trade unionists and environmentalists saying this is not a good trade agreement, I will listen to those people who represent workers, not large corporations.

MITCHELL: Here's President Obama. He was, as you know, at Nike headquarters in an export state, Oregon, which is in favor of trade deals, and then sat down with Matt Bai and here's what he had to say about Elizabeth Warren.

[begin video clip]

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The notion that I had this massive fight with Wall Street to make sure we don't repeat what happened in 2007-2008. Then I sign a provision that would unravel it? I'd have to be pretty stupid. It doesn't make any sense. This is pure speculation. She and I both taught law school. One of the things you do as a law professor is you spin out hypotheticals. This is all hypothetical, speculative.

[end video clip]

MITCHELL: So, it's just hypothetical?

SANDERS: I'm not a law professor, but this is what I know. Within this provision, within this agreement, there will be provisions for investor state relationships. What this agreement will allow is for corporations to sue governments, local, state, federal, countries around the world, if they're inhibiting the future profits of that corporation.

Let me give you an example of what has happened. In the tiny country of Uruguay, they have - pass strong regulations trying to keep their children from smoking and get hooked on cigarettes. This has threatened the prophets of Philip Morris. Philip Morris has taken them to an international tribunal in order to get back the profits they would lose. This is what it contained in the TPP and I think that's an outrage. Governments have the right to protect the health of the environment of their people.

MITCHELL: Just briefly, Senator, I wanted to ask you -- one of your opponents, your most prominent opponent, Hillary Clinton, according to her officials to Phil Rucker of "The Washington Post," they're not going to have former President Bill Clinton campaign for her. Is that a relief for you, or would you rather see him out there?

SANDERS: No, I'd love to see him to be debating my wife, Jane. [laughter]

She's pretty smart.

MITCHELL: I love that. She'd have to be to keep up with you, Senator. Or keep ahead of you, I should say.

Thank you very much. Senator Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders, Interview with Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/323465

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