By Jerry Alatalo
“The writers of universal history will only prove themselves of real value when they are able to answer the essential question of history: What is power?”
– LEO TOLSTOY (1828-1910) Russian writer
espite intense disagreement on the way questions were configured during the debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in Michigan, the political exercise was of highest importance and very revealing for voters in Michigan, the Midwest region, and the entirety of America.
Regarding the format, debates which are as important as this one – in a very real sense responsible and necessary for informing voters and electing the next President of the United States – questions mustn’t become individualized or different for each candidate. The candidates must answer the same questions, in a format implemented to make sure the highest degree possible of impartiality, fairness, scholarly rigor/emphasis and full intellectual exposition. The format used in this debate, frankly, was a terrible choice considering the profound and extraordinarily vital nature of the topics discussed.
That said, the Michigan debate has concluded.
Hillary Clinton’s clear and blatant lie accusing Bernie Sanders of voting against the government bailout of the U.S. auto industry could be the greatest attempt at mass deception ever perpetrated in the history of U.S. presidential debates. Bernie Sanders firmly addressed the issue the day after the debate while speaking at a Michigan rally (see video below). In my view, such an overwhelmingly unethical and immoral action on the part of Hillary Clinton should automatically disqualify her from the 2016 campaign and necessitate her immediate exit.
What follows is that portion of the debate transcript which focused on trade and economics. Comments on particular candidate statements are found inside parentheses ( … ). Included is a video related to Hillary Clinton’s opposition, while running for President in 2008, to a proposed trade deal with Colombia – and her total reversal on that stance after becoming Secretary of State. Because Ms. Clinton received training in corporate law, she will likely become forced to provide a much more detailed explanation.
Voters in Michigan and America, once aware of this issue over Colombia, will choose to vote for her or Bernie Sanders based on the thoroughness and integrity provided in her explanation – that is, if she provides one.
Ms. Clinton calmly restated her position of nondisclosure of transcripts recording the messages she conveyed in three behind-closed-door meetings with Goldman Sachs for which she received $225,000 per speech, reiterating that she will provide the American people those transcripts once “both Republicans and Democrats do…”. Bernie Sanders responded by “throwing” – “releasing” – his transcripts in the air for her, emphasizing the fact that he hasn’t delivered paid speeches to Wall Street owners – there is “nothing” to “release”.
Begin debate transcript dealing with trade, economics, jobs:
COOPER: I want to go to Tanisha Motron, she grew up in Flint and now works in Detroit at the Shinola watch factory which as you know, is often held up as the blueprint for how to save American industry jobs. She says she’s leaning towards Secretary Clinton and has a question for her.
QUESTION: A lot of members work in the auto industry here in Flint. That’s ultimately what I wanted to do when I got out of school unfortunately, I was unable to get any one of the big three and that’s why I now reside at Shinola. If you are elected president, what are you going to do to in the United States instead of sending them overseas to other countries?
COOPER: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: I’m going to do what I think will work which is both carrots and sticks. Let me talk about the carrots. We’re going to have a very clear set of proposals and incentives for manufacturing so that we change the way that companies think about making investments again in America. I have a comprehensive manufacturing plan that I will be implementing.
We’re also going to invest more on infrastructure as we both have said, “it’s woefully under resourced.” That will put a lot of people to work. I want to do more to help small businesses, they are the source of two-thirds of our jobs and we have to help them start and grow, particularly minority and women-owned small businesses.
We need to do more to help create clean energy as a source of good jobs but I am also going to go after companies. You know, when a company decides to leave like Nabisco is leaving and they have gotten tax benefits from Chicago and Illinois to stay there, I will claw back the benefits. They will have to pay them back if they are leaving a place that actually invested in them.
I am also going to go after companies like Johnson Controls in Wisconsin. They came and got part of the bailout because they were an auto parts supplier and now they want to move headquarters to Europe. They are going to have to pay an exit fee. We are going to stop this kind of job exporting and we are going to start importing and growing jobs again in our country.
(*Ms. Clinton said “a very clear set of proposals and incentives…”, “I have a comprehensive manufacturing plan I will be implementing”… without so much as providing an iota of further description or specifics. She fails to mention NAFTA, CAFTA, TPP, TTIP or any specific, massive trade deals which have resulted in previously abundant Michigan/Midwest state jobs moving to Mexico, thus Ms. Motron’s inability to secure employment at one of the “Big Three” U.S./Michigan automakers, in Flint, Detroit, or many areas of the region.)
COOPER: Senator Sanders, I will let you…
SANDERS: I am very glad, Anderson, that Secretary Clinton discovered religion on this issue but it’s a little bit too late.
Secretary Clinton supported virtually every one of the disastrous trade agreements written by corporate America. (APPLAUSE)
NAFTA, supported by the Secretary, cost us 800,000 jobs nationwide, tens of thousands of jobs in the Midwest. Permanent normal trade relations with China cost us millions of jobs. Look, I was on a picket line in early 1990’s against NFATA because you didn’t need a PhD in economics to understand that American workers should not be forced to compete against people in Mexico making 25 cents an hour. (APPLAUSE)
SANDERS: And the reason that I was one of the first, not one of the last to be in opposition to the TPP is that American workers… (APPLAUSE)
… should not be forced to compete against people in Vietnam today making a minimum wage of $0.65 an hour. Look, what we have got to do is tell corporate America that they cannot continue to shut down. We’ve lost 60,000 factories since 2001. They’re going to start having to, if I’m president, invest in this country — not in China, not in Mexico.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton? (APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: Well — well, I’ll tell you something else that Senator Sanders was against. He was against the auto bailout. In January of 2009, President-Elect Obama asked everybody in the Congress to vote for the bailout.
The money was there, and had to be released in order to save the American auto industry and four million jobs, and to begin the restructuring. We had the best year that the auto industry has had in a long time. I voted to save the auto industry. (APPLAUSE)
He voted against the money that ended up saving the auto industry. I think that is a pretty big difference.
(*Bernie Sanders corrects the blatant lie the next day (Monday), spoken with false, Academy Award worthy emotion by Clinton of “righteous indignation”, and a clearly despicable attempt to deceive Michigan voters. In my view, Hillary Clinton should end her campaign over this disgusting action alone.)
SANDERS: Well, I — If you are talking about the Wall Street bailout, where some of your friends destroyed this economy…
CLINTON: You know…
SANDERS: … through — excuse me, I’m talking.
COOPER: Let him (inaudible). (APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: If you’re gonna talk, tell the whole story, Senator Sanders.
SANDERS: Let me tell my story. You tell yours.
CLINTON: I will.
SANDERS: Your story is for — voting for every disastrous trade agreement, and voting for corporate America. Did I vote against the Wall Street bailout?
When billionaires on Wall Street destroyed this economy, they went to Congress and they said, “please, we’ll be good boys, bail us out.” You know what I said? I said, “let the billionaires themselves bail out Wall Street.” It shouldn’t be the middle class of this country. (APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: OK, so…
COOPER: Secretary Clinton?
SANDERS: Wait a minute. Wait. Could I finish? You’ll have your turn, all right?
But ultimately, if you look at our records, I stood up to corporate America time and time again. I went to Mexico. I saw the lives of people who were working in American factories and making $0.25 an hour.
I understood that these trade agreements were going to destroy the middle class of this country. I led the fight against us (sic). That is one of the major differences that we have.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton.
CLINTON: Well, if I — if I could… (APPLAUSE)
… to set the record straight, I voted against the only multinational trade agreement that came before me when I was in the Senate. It was called CAFTA. I came out against the TPP after it was finished. I thought it was reasonable to actually know what was in it before I opposed it. I oppose it.
(*Hillary Clinton seems to have completely omitted – and Bernie Sanders didn’t confront her on what newly released emails have revealed – the most germane historical facts about her reversal from opposing what became the Colombia Free Trade Agreement while running in 2008, to her subsequent, disturbing “entanglements” while pushing for it after becoming Secretary of State. Workers in Colombia have suffered the horrific, harsh consequences:)
(Thank you to Sane Progressive (Debbie) at YouTube)
Michigan voters (and all Americans) would be most interested in the following article posted by International Business Times:
(*So – she wants to “set the record straight”?… Ms. Clinton described the TPP as the “Gold Standard” of trade agreements. Should she have instead used the term “Goldman Sachs Standard”? Did she voice any criticism, from the start, against the ultra-secret nature of the TPP’s contents and legal provisions, before reading it – before fully supporting? Will she “reverse” her stance on TPP, just as she did on the Colombia agreement? If TPP becomes reality, will the results felt by workers in Colombia become the results felt by workers in each TPP signatory nation?)
Now let me get back to what happened in January of 2009. The Bush administration negotiated the deal. Were there things in it that I didn’t like? Would I have done it differently? Absolutely.
But was the auto bailout money in it — the $350 billion that was needed to begin the restructuring of the auto industry? Yes, it was. So when I talk about Senator Sanders being a one-issue candidate, I mean very clearly — you have to make hard choices when you’re in positions of responsibility. The two senators from Michigan stood on the floor and said, “we have to get this money released.” I went with them, and I went with Barack Obama. You did not. If everybody had voted the way he did, I believe the auto industry would have collapsed, taking four million jobs with it. (APPLAUSE)
COOPER: Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: I believe that the recklessness, the greed, and the illegal behavior of Wall Street drove this country into the worst economic downturn in the history of the United — modern history of the United States of America. And I will be damned if it was the working people of this country who had to bail out the crooks on Wall Street. (APPLAUSE)
And what I proposed — and I had an amendment that was defeated — it was defeated by a voice vote on the floor of the Senate — that said to those people on the top who benefited from Wall Street greed — I said, “you pay for the bailout. Don’t go to my constituents, who are struggling to make ends meet.”
In terms of the auto bailout, of course that made sense. In terms of the stimulus package, of course that made sense, and I strongly supported President Obama’s position on that.
But let us be clear, one of the major issues Secretary Clinton says I’m a one-issue person, well, I guess so. My one issue is trying to rebuild a disappearing middle class. That’s my one issue. (APPLAUSE)
(*Bernie Sanders tried to remove from bailout provisions any monies directed toward Wall Street firms, while leaving provisions/monies for the auto industry and an economic stimulus.)
COOPER: Senator Sanders…
CLINTON: Well, all I can say is that given the terrible pressures that the auto industry was under and that the middle class of this state and Ohio and Indiana and Illinois and Wisconsin and Missouri and other places in the Midwest were facing, I think it was the right decision to heed what President-elect Obama asked us to do.
(*In preparation for this extremely important Michigan debate, Hillary Clinton identified the auto bailout as the response to Sanders’ trade deal criticisms of her record, including in her response – “coincidentally” – mention of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and “other places in the Midwest”.)
He sent a letter, an authorized letter, asking us to support that to save the auto industry. Yes, were there things in it that you and I would not have necessarily wanted? That’s true. But when it came down to it, you were either for saving the auto industry or you were against it. I voted to save the auto industry. And I am very glad that I did. (APPLAUSE)
(*She accuses Sanders of being against “saving the auto industry”, states that she had voted to save the industry – just seconds after Sanders in explanation said: “In terms of the auto bailout, of course that made sense. In terms of the stimulus package, of course that made sense, and I strongly supported President Obama’s position on that”.)
SANDERS: Let me just say this, while we are on Wall Street, one of us has a super PAC. One of us has raised $15 million from Wall Street for that super PAC. One of us has given speeches on Wall Street for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now, I kind of think if you get paid a couple hundred thousand dollars for a speech, it must be a great speech. I think we should release it and let the American people see what that transcript was. (APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: And I have said and I will say again, I will be happy to release anything I have as long as everybody else does too, because what really is behind that question, Republicans and Democrats, is where I can stand up to Wall Street.
Well, let’s have some facts instead of some rhetoric for a change. I went to Wall Street when I was a United States senator. I told them they were wrecking the economy. I asked for a moratorium on foreclosures. I asked that we do more to try to prevent what I worried was going to happen. I also called for closing loopholes including the carried interest loophole. I also called for changes in CEO pay. I have a record. And you know what, if you were going to be in some way distrusted or dismissed about whether you can take on Wall Street if you ever took money, President Obama took more money from Wall Street in the 2008 campaign than anybody ever had.
And when it came time to stand up to Wall Street, he passed and signed the toughest regulation since the Great Depression with the Dodd-Frank regulations.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, just yesterday, in fact, you said just — I believe it was yesterday you said not only her speech must have been a fantastic speech, it must have been a Shakespearean speech for that amount of money. Is her answer enough for you that she will release it when all the Republicans and Democrats do?
SANDERS: All right, look, Secretary Clinton wants everybody else to release it, well, I’m your Democratic opponent, I release it, here it is. There ain’t nothing. I don’t give speeches to Wall Street for hundreds of thousands of dollars, you got it.
Second of all, when we talk about being tough on Wall Street, and this galls me and the American people. Recently Goldman Sachs, among many other major financial institutions on Wall Street, as you know, reached a settlement with the federal government for $5 billion because they were selling worthless packages of subprime mortgages, $5 billion settlement.
You know how many people, executives on Wall Street have gone to jail? If you are a kid caught with marijuana in Michigan, you get a police record. If you are an executive on Wall Street that destroys the American economy, you pay a $5 billion fine, no police record.
If I am elected president, we are going to bring justice back to a broken criminal justice system. (APPLAUSE)
COOPER: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, I think we are in vigorous agreement on this. I have said repeatedly no bank is too big to fail, no executive too powerful to jail. And I have said that I would use the tools in the Dodd-Frank regulations, that if any bank posed a systemic risk to the economy, they would be broken up.
Because we now have tools, laws that we didn’t have before. And I am very happy we did. Because there does need to be accountability, including criminal accountability if it is called for.
(*”…no executive too powerful to jail”? Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who now practices at Covington and Burling (the same law firm where he practiced before becoming Attorney General) representing Wall Street’s, and the world’s, most powerful banking firms – has endorsed Hillary Clinton in TV ads for her campaign. Mr. Holder did not prosecute or jail one Wall Street executive during his tenure as the nation’s highest law enforcement official.)
COOPER: Senator Sanders, I just want to show the audience, you sent a tweet, I want to return to trade.
You sent a tweet on Thursday, this is the tweet, I’m showing it to viewers. It says the people of Detroit know the real costs of Hillary Clinton’s free trade policies. It shows pictures of crumbling buildings. It seems like you’re blaming her for the situation in Detroit.
SANDERS: Well, I’m blaming the trade policies. You know what? This is an amazing thing which I didn’t know until recently, and I wonder how many people did know this.
COOPER: But, you’re calling them Hillary Clinton’s failed trade policies.
SANDERS: Well, Hillary Clinton, and everybody else who supported these disastrous trade policies. She wasn’t alone. We have many, many Republicans and far too many Democrats who supported these disastrous trade policies.
Do you know… (APPLAUSE)
SANDERS: … Do you know that in 1960 Detroit Michigan was one of the wealthiest cities in America? Flint, Michigan was a prosperous city, but then what happened is corporate America said why do I want to pay somebody in Michigan a living wage when I can pay slave wages in Mexico or China? We’re going to shut down, we’re going to move abroad, we’re going to bring those products back into this country.
Those trade policies, as much as any other set of policies, has resulted in the shrinking of the American middle class. And, I’ll tell you what else it did. It’s not only job loss by the millions, it is the race to the bottom so that new jobs in manufacturing, in some cases today, pay 50 percent less than they did 20 years ago. How stupid is that trade policy? (APPLAUSE)
COOPER: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: You know, if we’re going to argue about the 1990’s instead of talking about the future, which I’d much prefer because I think every election is about the future, and you all deserve to know what we will do to help you have a brighter future — but, if we are going to talk about the 1990’s I think it’s only fair to say that at the end of the 1990’s, after two terms of my husband’s presidency, the unemployment rate in Michigan was 4.4 percent.
There had been a net increase of 54,000 manufacturing jobs. There had been a net increase of 653,000 jobs overall.
And, one of the ways jobs were brought to, and grown here in Michigan was through something called the Export-Import Bank which helped a lot of businesses, particularly small businesses, be able to export around the world.
Senator Sanders opposes that. I think we’re in a race for exports. I think China, Germany, everybody else supports their businesses. Here in Michigan there’s been $11 billion dollars in recent years used to support exports, primarily from small businesses.
I favor that, he’s opposed it. I want to do everything I can for us to compete and win in the global economy…
COOPER: … Senator Sanders…
CLINTON: … and that’s what I will do as president…
COOPER: … I just want to explain to viewers what the Export- Import Bank is, in case everybody is not quite as wonkish as everybody on this stage here.
The Export-Import Bank, it’s a federal agency, it gives loans to companies that export American products. Senator Sanders, you do oppose it. The vast majority of the bank’s customers are small businesses, 176 right here in Michigan. What do you say to small business owners….
SANDERS: … I’ll tell you what I say…
COOPER: … Who rely on the banks to make their company profitable…
SANDERS: … I’ll tell you what I say. Do you know what the other name of the Export-Import Bank is? What it’s called in Washington? It’s called the bank of Boeing because Boeing itself gets 40 percent of the money discharged by the Export-Import Bank.
Seventy-Five percent of the funds going from the federal government, the Export-Import Bank, goes to large, profitable corporations. Many of these corporations have shut down in America, and have gone abroad to exploit poor people.
You know what? I don’t think it’s a great idea for the American taxpayer to have to subsidize through corporate welfare profitable corporations who downsize in the United States of America.
SANDERS: … Seventy-Five percent of that money goes to large profitable corporations.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, you are the only member of the Democratic caucus to vote against it. You’re agreeing with Senator Ted Cruz on this, why is he right and the Democrats wrong?
SANDERS: Well, let me tell you, I don’t want to break the bad news.
SANDERS: Democrats are not always right. Democrats have often supported corporate welfare… (APPLAUSE)
SANDERS: Democrats have supported disastrous trade agreements, but on this issue I do not believe in corporate welfare, and in fact, secretary Clinton may know or not know, but as a member of the Financial Services Committee, I worked hard and successfully to make sure that at least 20 percent of the money went to small businesses which is where it should go and not to profitable corporations and downsizing in our country.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: When I traveled around the world on you behalf as Secretary of State and went to 112 countries, one thing I saw everywhere was how European and Asian countries were supporting their companies back in their countries, to be able to make sales and contracts in a lot of the rest of the world. In fact, without the export-import bank, supporting businesses of all sizes — I believe more jobs would be lost here at home and more jobs literally would be exported. Instead of exporting products, we would be exporting jobs.
(*Ms. Clinton fails to discuss Mr. Sanders’ point about Export-Import Bank monies going to corporations who’ve moved facilities and jobs offshore/out of America.)
I just believe that Senator Sanders took that lonely position because most of us who saw the results — I saw it as a senator from New York. Your Senators saw it here in Michigan. They can give you the names of 240 companies in Michigan that have been helped.
There is a company in Livonia being helped, there are companies all over this state. I know, if we are going to compete and win in the global economy, we can’t let every other country support their companies and we take a hands off approach. I will not agree with that.
COOPER: I’m going to let you respond but I just want to push back on this. Senator Sanders is correct, the majority of the money does go Boeing, does go to companies like Caterpillar. Do they need this money?
CLINTON: I will tell you what, Anderson, after I investigated it, I concluded they did and here’s why. There two big plane manufacturers in the world, there’s Airbus and Boeing. Airbus does everything it can to get contracts to sell planes everywhere in the world. We don’t have as quite an aggressive outreach from our government.
I did go in many places around the world to sell American products because the alternatives were usually European, Asian, primarily Chinese products. That to me was an unacceptable concession. So yes, Boeing and other big companies get support just like their competitors do from the companies that they are from in the countries that provide the support.
COOPER: Thank you. Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: Isn’t it tragic that the large multinational corporations making billions of dollars a year, shutting down in America, going to China, going to Mexico? Absolutely they need a handout from the American middle class — I don’t think so. Second of all. (APPLAUSE)
(*Again, Clinton failed in addressing Sanders’ point about limiting or prohibiting Export-Import Bank funds going to corporations who’ve outsourced facilities and jobs overseas.)
Second of all, Secretary Clinton traveled the world, she has been to Europe. And let’s talk about Europe versus the United States. I’m sure that when you were in Europe, and France, and Germany and the U.K., and all of the other countries; you noticed something and that is every one of those countries guarantees health care to all of their people as a right. (APPLAUSE)
And I am sure you know as you know you do that in countries like the U.K. compared to America, we are spending almost three times as much as they spend in the U.K. for health care for our people. We are spending 50 percent more than the French. When we talk about Europe and their pluses and minuses, one thing they have done well that we should emulate and that is guaranteed health care for all people for a better care for all.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator Sanders. Secretary Clinton, 30 seconds and we have to take a break. So 30 seconds if you can.
CLINTON: We are on the path to doing that thanks to President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, we have 90 percent coverage. We are lacking 10 percent. We are going to stay on that and get to 100 percent universal coverage.
End of selected transcript
(*Mr. Sanders’ vision for universal health care is “Medicare for all”, the system of every industrialized nation on Earth but America, while Ms. Clinton’s “vision” of universal health care is mandatory by law for every citizen and privately run by profit-driven corporations.)
Please consider sharing this information with family, friends and associates across America, and especially those in Michigan. In the 2016 presidential race, the real debate has only just begun.