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Clinton V. His Legacy

STEPHANOPOULOS: You fought tooth and nail for NAFTA back in 1993 and 1994. Hillary says it's hurt American workers.

CLINTON: Well, I think first of all, keep in mind I also fought for the development of a North American development bank that would finance major environmental and other projects along the border. I enforced our trade laws more, and when I was president in six of the eight years we had gains in manufacturing jobs, six of the eight years median wages rose. And that's the first time it happened in over 20 years. Now they're all flat again or declining. And I think if you have a trade only policy, then workers that have high wages and good benefits are going to be in trouble. If your policy is trade only, if you have a trade-plus policy, it can be very good for America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But do you agree that it's hurt American workers?

CLINTON: No. NAFTA has become sort of a symbol. Actually, our big trade deficits are with China and Japan and Korea and the oil exporting countries. Mexico is way down the list. And because we borrow money from the people who have the biggest trade surpluses with us, we can't really enforce our trade laws.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So knowing what you know now would you cut the same deal today?

CLINTON: I didn't cut the deal. If you remember I didn't cut the deal. NAFTA had already been negotiated when I did it. What I did was to get an extra commitment to establish a North American development bank and to do other things to promote labor and environmental standards parallel to NAFTA. It's the best I could do. Knowing what I know would I still try to pass it today, absolutely because if I had not passed it, it would have been devastating to our relations with Mexico and Latin America. I brought four times as many trade enforcement actions per year as the current administration, and it would have worked out even better if the Republicans hadn't won the Congress in 1994 because after they won the Congress, they wouldn't fund any of this labor and environmental stuff. They didn't believe in it, it's the problem.
Michael Crowley