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Sanders Calls on 2020 Candidates to Pledge Opposition to 'Unfair' Trade Deals That Put Corporate Interests Ahead of US Workers

"What we have seen over the last many years is one disastrous trade policy after another... It has led to a race to the bottom."

Cooper, Sanders

In an interview on CNN Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) urged his fellow 2020 presidential candidates to commit to trade policies that serve American workers. (Photo: CNN)

Sen. Bernie Sanders is challenging all of his competitors in the 2020 presidential race—especially Donald Trump—to scrap "unfair trade deals" and pursue policies designed to protect U.S. jobs and ensure living wages for American workers.

"We need a president who will actually fight for American workers and stand up to corporations who outsource jobs," Sanders tweeted Monday.

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper Monday night, Sanders outlined his views of current conditions for workers and various trade deals. He also expanded on his vision for future U.S. trade policy.

Asked by Cooper whether he thinks Democratic contenders such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) or former Vice President Joe Biden would actually sign on to his trade pledge or put out their own plans, Sanders focused on the president.

"Mostly this is directed to President Trump," said Sanders.

Sanders also sent a clear message to major American corporations that benefit from unfair trade deals:

We have profitable corporation after profitable corporation shutting down in America, throwing American workers out on the street, going abroad, and then they line up at the federal trough for contracts...

Don't think you're going to get a contract if you shut down plants and lay off American workers. Don't think you're going to get a contract if you don't allow workers to organize into a union, if that's what they want to do.

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In terms of policies to prevent that kind corporate behavior, Sanders's presidential campaign, in a statement Monday, called on all 2020 candidates to support:

  • An executive order ending federal contracts to corporations that outsource American jobs;
  • A commitment to renegotiate all of our unfair trade deals to prevent the outsourcing of American jobs and raise wages;
  • A promise to avoid appointing trade representative from Wall Street; and
  • A pledge to repeal Trump's tax breaks that reward companies for moving their factories overseas.

Sanders also vowed that if elected president, he will "label China a currency manipulator and prevent it from dumping artificially cheap products into the U.S."

The candidate's campaign website offers further details about his goals for reforming U.S. policy and highlights some broad trade developments during the Trump era.

"Despite the president's tough rhetoric and haphazard tariffs, under Trump, we now have a record-breaking $890 billion annual trade deficit in goods. And since Trump was elected, multinational corporations have shipped 185,000 American jobs overseas," the site says. "That is unacceptable."

Sanders, in his capacity as a senator, has been critical of Trump's moves on trade—particularly the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the controversial deal the president signed with Canada and Mexico in November.

At the time, Sanders called on negotiators to add "strong enforcement mechanisms" and to cut all of the "outrageous giveaways to the fossil fuel industry and big pharmaceutical companies" in the deal, which is often called "NAFTA 2.0."

"As someone who not only voted against NAFTA, but walked on the picket lines against it," the senator said, "there is no question that this unfettered trade deal needs to be fundamentally rewritten."

USMCA has not yet been approved by Congress, and faces an uncertain future in the Democratically controlled House.

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