TRANSCRIPT: The Democratic Debate

YEPSEN: Senator Edwards, you have criticized U.S. trade agreements. How do you fashion trade agreements to protect American workers, without in turn creating trade wars that hurt American farmers, Iowa farmers and what they're trying to sell abroad?

EDWARDS: Well, the first thing I'd say is I think we've had a failed trade policy in America.

The question seems to have been, on past trade agreements like NAFTA: Is this trade agreement good for the profits of big multinational corporations?

And the answer to those questions on the trade agreements we've entered into has been yes.

EDWARDS: It's been very good for multinational corporations. It has not been good for American workers. And in an Edwards administration, the first question I will ask in every single trade agreement we're considering is: Is this good for middle-class working families in America? That would be the threshold question.

(APPLAUSE)

And, second, we will have real labor and environmental standards in the text of the agreement, which I will enforce. We will have protections against currency manipulation, which the Chinese are engaged in right now.

And then finally -- finally -- we will end these loopholes that actually create tax incentives for companies to leave America and take jobs somewhere else.

(APPLAUSE)

That needs to be brought to an end.

YEPSEN: Senator Clinton, how do you come down on that question of how do you protect American jobs in America without setting up a situation where other countries discriminate against the things we're trying to export, particularly agricultural exports?

CLINTON: Well, I agree with everything John said, with the additional point that your question really raised, and that is that we do export a lot of agricultural goods, many of that through trade agreements.

And I think we've got to do three things. Number one, we have to have more focus on family farms, like the gentleman who asked the question. We have 34,000 family farms, largely, in New York. I've tried to become a real advocate for them because they get lost in the shuffle.

So I've created ways of working with them. I've issued a report about how much difficulty they have getting their products across the border into Canada.

So we've got to do more to make sure trade agreements are not only good for the exporting of agricultural products from great, big agribusiness, but also for small farmers.

CLINTON: Secondly, we've got to do more, as Chris said, to build up the agricultural and rural areas of our country. And thirdly, you know, trade needs to become a win-win.

People ask me, am I a free trader or a fair trader? I want to be a smart, pro-American trader. And that means we look for ways to maximize the impact of what we're trying to export and quit being taken advantage of by other countries.

YEPSEN: Senator Obama, how do you balance -- how do you protect jobs without hurting farmers?

OBAMA: Well, I think that many of the recommendations that have been made are the right ones. There's one other thing, though, that we've got to talk about. And that is that our Congress subsidizes these big megafarms and hurts family farmers oftentimes in the process.

And we've got to, I think, cap those subsidies so that we don't have continued concentration of agriculture in the hands of a few large agribusiness interests. But, on the trade issue generally, we're not going to suddenly cordon off America from the world.

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