Fact checking the Democratic debate: Clinton’s position on the trade deal, Sanders on the 1 percent

WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton offered some revisionist history Tuesday night when insisting she’s not a flip-flopper on a trade deal that she heartily promoted as secretary of state but turned against last week as a Democratic presidential candidate.

CLINTON on the Trans-Pacific Partnership: “I did say, I hoped it would be the gold standard'” of trade agreements.

THE FACTS: Clinton did not say anything about mere hope in her speeches around the world in support of the trade deal. She roundly endorsed the deal taking shape.

On Nov. 15, 2012, in Adelaide, Australia: “This TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) sets the gold standard in trade agreements, to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.”

In Honolulu, Nov. 10, 2011: “There is new momentum in our trade agenda with the recent passage of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement and our ongoing work on a binding, high-quality Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

She pitched the deal in Vietnam, Washington and beyond without qualification.

Clinton said in the debate that when she looked at the final agreement last week, “it didn’t meet my standards.”

Clinton told Judy Woodruff last week, “As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it,” Clinton said, later adding, “I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set.”

The final agreement, however, dropped or changed some provisions that liberal activist groups — the wing of the party she is assiduously courting at this stage of the campaign — had strongly criticized.

For example, the U.S. had pushed for 12 years of legal protection from generic drugs for advanced pharmaceuticals, but the final agreement provides only up to eight years. A provision was also added barring tobacco companies from using the agreement to overturn national anti-smoking laws.


SANDERS: “Almost all the new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent.”

THE FACTS: Sanders appears to be relying on outdated data. In the first five years of the economic recovery, from 2009 through 2014, the richest 1 percent of Americans captured 58 percent of income growth. While certainly a large gain, that is a lot less than “almost all.”

In just the first three years of the recovery, from 2009 through 2012, the richest 1 percent did capture 91 percent of the growth in income. But part of that occurred because of impending tax increases on the wealthiest Americans that took effect in 2013.

Many companies paid out greater bonuses to their highest-paid employees in 2012 before the higher tax rates took effect. Those bonuses then fell back in 2013. And in 2014, the bottom 99 percent finally saw their incomes rise 3.3 percent, the biggest gain in 15 years.

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