Senator Bernie Sanders took a shot Joe Biden during Tuesday night’s Democratic debate over the former vice president’s support for trade agreements which Sanders claims have deprived the U.S. of four million jobs since their implementation.
Sanders criticized Biden’s votes for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as “permanent normal trade relations,” or PNTR, granted to China in 2000, saying both agreements have harmed American workers.
“Joe and I have a fundamental disagreement, in case you haven‘t noticed,” the Vermont senator said during the debate hosted by CNN and The Des Moines Register at Drake University in Des Moines.
“NAFTA, PNTR with China, other trade agreements were written for one reason alone, and that is to increase the profits of large, multi-national corporations,” Sanders continued. “And the end result of those two … cost us some four million jobs as part of the race to the bottom. I am sick and tired and will not tolerate.”
Sanders went on to say that as president he would deny federal contracts to corporations in America who plan to shut down in “Iowa, or Vermont or anyplace else.”
“We need some corporate responsibility here, and we need to protect good-paying jobs in America, not see them go to China, Mexico, Vietnam, and other low-wage countries,” Sanders said.
Biden, for his part, argued that the U.S. must take the initiative in forging trade deals in order to ensure American interests are protected against abuses from revisionist states such as China.
Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minesota, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and billionaire Tom Steyer joined Biden and Sanders onstage for Tuesday night’s debate.