- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is hitting back at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after the powerful lobbying group criticized Mr. Trump’s positions on trade Tuesday.

“The @USCHAMBER must fight harder for the American worker. China, and many others, are taking advantage of U.S. with our terrible trade pacts,” Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday.

“Why would the USChamber be upset by the fact that I want to negotiate better and stronger trade deals or that I want penalties for cheaters?” Mr. Trump also tweeted.

Mr. Trump took aim at what he has described as poorly-negotiated trade deals, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), during a speech Tuesday in Pennsylvania. Mr. Trump has also been a prominent critic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade deal the U.S. Chamber supports.

The powerful business lobbying group, which has been a major ally for Republican candidates in recent election cycles, pushed back Tuesday.

“The 2013 Trump Was a Lot Better on Trade Than the 2016 Version,” read a headline on a piece posted to the U.S. Chamber’s website.

“Not only didn’t presidential candidate Donald Trump step back from his protectionist trade stance, he doubled down in a speech in Pennsylvania,” wrote Sean Hackbarth, senior editor of digital content for the business group.

Mr. Hackbarth pointed to a 2013 CNN op-ed in which Mr. Trump wrote: “I think we’ve all become aware of the fact that our cultures and economics are intertwined.”

“It’s a complex mosaic that cannot be approached with a simple formula for the correct pattern to emerge,” Mr. Trump wrote. “In many ways, we are in unchartered waters.”

The chamber argued that likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who also opposes the TPP, is likewise wrong on trade and has shifted from her previous stance during an election year.

“If only we had the 2012 version of Clinton where she called the TPP the ‘gold standard’ for trade agreements, and said the agreement would ‘lower barriers, raise standards, and drive long-term growth across the region’ as well as create ‘better jobs with higher wages and safer working conditions,’” Mr. Hackbarth wrote.

“Instead, 2016 came around — a presidential year — and she has become a TPP critic and scrubbed all mentions of TPP from the paperback version of her memoir, Hard Choices. Presidential politics topped straight talk,” he wrote.

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