Donald Trump Hammers America First Trade Policy in Pennsylvania, Reaches Out to Bernie Sanders Backers

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks about healthcare, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in King of Prussia, Pa. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
AP Photo/ Evan Vucci
Washington D.C.

With less than a week left before Election Day, Donald Trump has his sights on Pennsylvania, a state which has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold, but has been ravaged by Hillary Clinton’s globalist trade policies.

“Pennsylvania has lost almost 40 percent of its manufacturing jobs since NAFTA — a deal signed by Bill Clinton and supported by Hillary Clinton,” Trump said during a Tuesday rally in King of Prussia. “The City of Philadelphia has lost more than one-third of its manufacturing jobs since China joined the World Trade Organization — another Bill and Hillary-backed disaster.”

“For the average Rust-belt voter, Trump’s sentiment on trade hits home in a personal and powerful way,” wrote the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza in a piece praising Trump’s King of Prussia speech titled, “Donald Trump gave a very, very good speech today in Pennsylvania”.

“It resonates. There’s no question about it,” former Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has said about how Trump’s message is received by Pennsylvania voters.

Indeed, as Bernie Sanders’ campaign pointed out earlier this year, Pennsylvania has been devastated by Clinton’s trade policies:

The North American Free Trade Agreement cost 850,000 good-paying jobs in the United States, including 26,300 in Pennsylvania. Normalized trade relations with China which led to the loss of 3.2 million jobs including 122,600 in Pennsylvania. Sanders opposed both agreements while Secretary Clinton supported them.

Clinton supported NAFTA, the WTO, and China’s entrance into the WTO. Even as recently as the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton defended her husband’s globalist trade policies of the 1990s, insisting: “I think my husband did a pretty good job in the 1990s.”

When Trump attacked NAFTA and described it as “the single worst trade deal,” Clinton defended the trade agreement, declaring, “Well, that’s your opinion.”

Sanders’ campaign has explained that the result of these trade policies have “been that Pennsylvania workers lost jobs that went to Mexico, China and other low-wage countries.”

Sanders highlighted how Pennsylvania has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs as corporations have shifted production to Mexico in pursuit of cheaper foreign labor.

In February, just a few days after Carrier Corporation in Indiana announced the lay-off of 1,400 Indiana workers, “Cardone, the Philadelphia auto-parts rebuilder which calls itself the city’s largest remaining manufacturing company, [announced it] will shift 1,336 workers from its brake caliper plants [in Philadelphia]… to a plant in Matamoros, Mexico,” reported. “The company, which has been shifting production from Northeast Philly to the lower-wage Texas-Mexico border region for years, told the Pennsylvania Department of Labor last month about the layoff plan.”

Since the early 2000s, Cardone’s headquarter office in Philadelphia reportedly shrank by roughly 3,000 workers. The report noted that “the company was moving the brake work to Mexico because the ‘entry level’ manufacturing work is ‘particularly sensitive’ to cheap foreign competition.”

In 2015, Allegheny Technologies shuttered two steel plants in Pennsylvania, “laying off 600 workers due to a surge in cheap imports from China,” Sanders’ campaign said.

In 2013, General Electric got rid of 950 jobs for Pennsylvania workers from its plant in Eerie, Pennsylvania and shifted the jobs to Mexico, Sanders’ campaign similarly noted.

In 2011, “Baldwin Hardware, the internationally renowned maker of high-end brass fixtures that has been based in Reading [Pennsylvania] for more than a half-century, [announced it] no longer will make those products locally and 159 employees will lose their jobs… it plans to close and vacant the plant [in Reading] and transfer most manufacturing to Mexico,” the Reading Eagle reported.

In 2009, Hershey laid off 300 Pennsylvania workers when it moved its York Peppermint Patties Plant from Reading, Pennsylvania to Monterrey, Mexico, “where workers are paid a fraction of what they were paid in Pennsylvania,” Sanders campaign highlighted.

At the time, ABC reported that Hershey “is building a 1,500-employee factory in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey to replace plants it closed in the USA and Canada.” The report explained that one of the big reasons for the move is cheaper labor, noting that “workers in Mexico’s processed food industry earn an average of $2.70 an hour” as opposed to a skilled machinery operator in Hershey, PA who “earns $19 to $25 an hour.”

In 2008, Sony laid off 560 workers when it closed its last television plant in the United States. Sanders’ campaign noted that the company moved the plant, which had been located in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, to Baja, Mexico.

As President of the Steel Workers Union Leo Gerard has observed, “in the first decade of this century, America lost 56,190 factories, 15 [factories] a day.”

During his June speech addressing the issue of trade, Trump explained that Pennsylvania workers have been “betray[ed]” by politicians like Hillary Clinton, who have pursued a policy of globalization that has shipped Pennsylvania jobs to Mexico. Trump said:

The legacy of Pennsylvania steelworkers lives in the bridges, railways and skyscrapers that make up our great American landscape. But our workers’ loyalty was repaid with betrayal. Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization – moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas. Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache. When subsidized foreign steel is dumped into our markets, threatening our factories, the politicians do nothing. For years, they watched on the sidelines as our jobs vanished and our communities were plunged into depression-level unemployment. Many of these areas have still never recovered. Our politicians took away from the people their means of making a living and supporting their families… Many Pennsylvania towns once thriving and humming are now in a state despair. This wave of globalization has wiped out our middle class.  It doesn’t have to be this way. We can turn it all around – and we can turn it around fast.

Trump has warned that if Clinton were elected president, she would continue to expand upon her husband’s legacy on trade by approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere but certainly ever signed in this country and now you want to approve Trans Pacific Partnership,” Trump said during the first presidential debate. “You were totally in favor of it and then you heard how I said how bad it was and if you win, you would approve it and it would be almost as bad as NAFTA.”

Clinton played a “leading part in drafting” the TPP, according to Bloomberg, and is on record of having praised the agreement at least 45 times, according to CNN.

While Clinton now claims to oppose the deal, in a private speech made public by WikiLeaks, Clinton made clear that she believes politicians need to have “both a public and a private position” on every issue. During a closed-door speech delivered to Goldman Sachs executives, Clinton declared that her “dream” is for a “hemispheric common market with open trade.”

Indeed,  Bill Clinton said that the case for approving the TPP is “clear” during a CNBC interview last month. Similarly, Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, recently seemed to leave the door open to the possibility that a Hillary Clinton administration would pass an Asian trade deal similar to the TPP, declaring “you never close the door” on passing this type of multi-national trade deal.

In 2015 alone, Pennsylvania suffered a net loss of nearly 70,000 jobs due to the U.S. trade deficit with TPP countries, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Clinton’s support for globalist trade policies has earned her criticism from both conservatives and liberal progressives alike.

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has explained how the TPP will be “NAFTA on steroids” and will “enrich wealthy corporations by exporting jobs and pushing down wages.” She and her party have argued that the deal essentially amounts to a “global corporate coup” that “would give corporations more power than nations” by letting them “challenge our laws.”

Following Sanders’ eventual decision to endorse Clinton, Trump made an open appeal to working-class Democrats, whom– Trump argued– Sanders had “abandoned” by endorsing “pro-TPP” Hillary Clinton.

“Bernie Sanders has abandoned his supporters by endorsing pro-war pro-TPP pro-Wall Street Crooked Hillary Clinton,” Trump tweeted. “Bernie Sanders endorsing Crooked Hillary Clinton is like Occupy Wall Street endorsing Goldman Sachs.”

“To all the Bernie voters who want to stop bad trade deals & global special interests, we welcome you with open arms. People first,” Trump added.