Debates 2020

Bernie Sanders Says He Won't Back Trump's New NAFTA Because It Doesn't Solve Climate Change. Huh?

The moderators didn't see ask Elizabeth Warren about her position on the USMCA, which does a serious disservice to prospective voters.


In the opening moments of Thursday's Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) announced that he would not vote for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) because it would not solve climate change and would not prevent American companies from investing in factories overseas.

His answer should leave observers wondering if there are any circumstances under which a President Bernie Sanders would sign a trade deal.

Indeed, Sanders wears his opposition to trade like a badge of honor. As he often does, he bragged on Thursday night about his vote against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. He said the USMCA—which cleared the House earlier Tuesday with bipartisan support after President Donald Trump struck a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.)—makes "some modest improvement" over NAFTA, but not enough to earn his vote.

"It is not going to stop outsourcing. It is not going to stop corporations from moving to Mexico," he said from the debate stage at Loyola Marymount University. "What we need is a trade policy that stands up for workers, stands up for farmers—and, by the way, the word "climate change" to the best of my knowledge is not discussed in this new NAFTA agreement at all, which is an outrage."

There is plenty to dislike in the USMCA, which is a step backward in terms of free trade. It imposes additional rules on how goods flow across North American borders, aims to make it more expensive for American companies to export jobs to Mexico, and includes a sunset provision that means it could expire without explicit action by future governments. The deal has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO, a coalition of labor unions that almost never supports trade deals.

In short, a Republican president has delivered a trade deal that's largely in line with what Democrats have been seeking for decades. If that's not enough for Sanders, then what would be?

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) said she will support the USMCA when it comes before the Senate—likely early next year. Unlike Sanders, Klobuchar acknowledged a basic reality of trade: that being able to exchange goods with people and businesses in other countries is essential to America's economy.

"Ninety-five percent of our customers are outside of our borders," she said during the debate, adding that the newer version of the USMCA negotiated by Pelosi is "much better than the one originally proposed."

One can quibble with her assessment of the USMCA, but Klobuchar's response feels like it at least acknowledges the reality of a global economy, while Sanders' suggests that he would want terrifying levels of government control over the decisions of private businesses.

Strangely, the moderators of Thursday's debate saw fit to ask only two of the three senators about whether they would vote for the USMCA. In skipping over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), they did prospective Democratic voters a serious disservice.

Warren has published a detailed trade policy paper—one that essentially promises a more competent version of the protectionism that Trump has brought to the forefront of American politics in the past two years. Warren's plan calls for "establishing a set of standards countries must meet as a precondition for any trade agreement with America." Those standards include enforcement of collective bargaining, elimination of domestic fossil fuel subsidies, and a long-term plan to reduce carbon emissions—rules so strict that they effectively disqualify any developing country from reaching a trade deal with the United States.

But that's all theoretical. It would have been useful and instructive to see how Warren would assess an actual trade deal that she will actually have to vote on in the near future. It's sorely disappointing that she was not put on the spot.

NEXT: J.K. Rowling's Anti-Trans Tweets Have Not Ruined Harry Potter. Please Calm Down.

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  1. The president cannot solve climate change since all he can affect is what the US does not the rest of the world.
    But I also have to say Sanders if he will be elected president of the US will not be able to solve it either. He could destroy the US economy in trying to though.

    1. He could nuke China and India. That’d reduce global emissions by over 30%, after the smoke clears.

      1. And the smoke (and dust and ashes of burnt bodies) will lower global temperatures by blocking out radiative energy from the Sun.

        1. Sounds like a plan to me. And as a bonus, as soon as the radiation clears, we could move the Palestinians to some of the best land there, which would solve that problem.

    2. I think that pretty much any of them will destroy the economy, if they follow through on their fracking ban promises.

    3. The president cant solve climate change because climate alarmists are wrong. They have now resorted to changing records to match their models, a complete molestation of science. The signal of warming trends is still contained within natural variations. The warming growth of recorded temps of riding the lower 3 sigma bound of the climate models and has been for 2 decades. That means the models are over predicting. In other words.. the models being used to justify socialization of the global economy to save the planet from dying are wrong. It is a false alarm.

  2. “The moderators didn’t see ask Elizabeth Warren about her position on the USMCA, which does a serious disservice to prospective voters.”
    Editor on aisle #6, STAT!

    1. The USMCA is a disservice to voters. So what’s your beef?

  3. Poor Boehm.

    Maybe he can compare and contrast NAFTA and USCMA. Or at least send in alphabet troll to not do it.

    1. Here ya go! See if you can work up the gumption to follow through on your broken promise.

      loveconstitution1789|12.3.18 @ 10:20AM|#

      Do you need me to link the rules of NAFTA and USCMA so you can compare and contrast the “worseness” for us?

      1. …you realize you keep quoting a statement that challenges YOU to do something?

        1. I realize I’ve said many times that yes, I do need him to follow through, and he never has.

          1. So you are waiting on him to provide you two links to the text for you to analyze something? Sounds like you’re being intellectually lazy or you know you will never do it so your economic arguments for USMCA will fall flat.

  4. Although Sanders is an imperfect candidate, I honestly believe our billionaire benefactor Charles Koch would prosper more in a Sanders economy than he has during this high-tariff / low-immigration #DrumpfRecession.


    1. Everyone would be a bullionaire under Bernie, nineteen pounds lighter too. It’s the Chavez/Maduro way.

      1. All of America will be Russfest!

  5. He could and would oppose anything Trump proposed if it didn’t solve the problem of navel lint, too.
    Keep in mind, the guy has never made a living in a real job and was tossed from a hippy commune since he was too lazy even for them.
    Whatever he says, treat it like the embarrassing comments from your woo brother-in-law at Thanksgiving.

  6. Question for a friend, is it still domestic abuse if its a gay man smacking around 2 women?

    In other news, Pete’s feeling feisty tonight

    1. Only if the man is white.

    2. I believe millennial urban (teacher union spouse) LGBTQ ranks above senior, white female, straight, Christian, suburban single family homeowner– its hard to keep up with the SJW intersectionality flow chart.

  7. Oh I dunno, Bernie would gladly trade with Cuba provided they don’t fiddle with that glorious economic system they have.

  8. I’ve been curious about something with USMCA — why does the House have to approve it? Isn’t it a treaty, for which only Senate approval is required?

    Maybe lc1789 could chime in, since he’s such a constitutional expert.


    He should get Greta as a running mate.

    1. “EAT THE BUGS!”

  10. Bernie and his supporters believe the government can both determine the perfect temperature of the earth and control it if only we pay huge new taxes.
    Next up Elvis spotted in the grocery store and Aliens built the pyramids.

  11. “The moderators didn’t see ask Elizabeth Warren about her position on the USMCA,”

    Maybe they didn’t ask-see her standing there.

  12. “Bernie Sanders Says He Won’t Back Trump’s New NAFTA Because It Doesn’t Solve Climate Change.”

    This is an excellent way to not win the POTUS election.

    1. Bernie has a lot of great ideas on how to not win the election.

  13. Biden calling for the losses of hundreds of thousands of jobs to enact the GND will likely be used against him a bit if Biden wins the nomination.

  14. That is a whopper of a non sequitur.

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