PHILADELPHIA – Responding to Hillary Clinton’s attempt to portray him as unqualified for the White House, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders linked her to a trade pact exploited by wealthy individuals and profitable corporations to avoid paying taxes.
An investigation by a team of journalists revealed that 214,000 entities throughout the world have used a law firm in Panama to shelter their incomes and profits to avoid paying taxes. The release this week of the documents on offshore financial dealings raised questions over the widespread use of tactics to avoid taxes.
Sanders cited the former secretary of state’s support of the trade deal as one reason she should not be the party’s nominee for president. “I don’t think you are qualified if you supported the Panama free trade agreement, something I very strongly opposed, which has made it easier for wealthy people and corporations all over the world to avoid paying taxes owed to their countries,” Sanders told a rally at Temple University in an auditorium packed with nearly 13,000 supporters.
Sanders five years ago led opposition to the Panama trade deal in a Senate floor speech. He predicted that the pact would make it easier for the wealthy and the powerful to stash their cash in Panama to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
Clinton had opposed the deal in 2008 when she was running against then Sen. Barack Obama. But in an about face, she helped push the agreement through Congress when she was secretary of state.
“The American people are sick and tired of establishment politicians who say one thing during a campaign and do the exact opposite the day after the election,” Sanders said on Tuesday in a prepared statement. As president, Sanders said he would terminate the trade deal and investigate U.S. banks, corporations and wealthy individuals who have been stashing their cash in Panama to avoid taxes.
Sanders came to Pennsylvania fresh off a win Tuesday in Wisconsin, his seventh victory in the past eight caucuses and primaries. A new national poll release Wednesday put him ahead of Clinton by two points and also showed him ahead of Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
Clinton earlier on Wednesday questioned Sanders’ qualifications to be president. “Secretary Clinton appears to be getting a little nervous,” he shot back. “She has been saying lately that I am not qualified to be president.”
Sanders then ticked off his own list of reasons why Clinton isn’t qualified to be in the White House.
“I don’t believe that she is qualified if she is through her super PAC taking tens of millions of dollars in special-interest funds.
“I don’t think that you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC.
“I don’t think you are qualified if you voted for the disastrous war in Iraq.
“I don’t think you’re qualified if you supported almost every disastrous trade agreement.
“I don’t think you are qualified if you supported the Panama free trade agreement, something I very strongly opposed, which has gave the green light to wealthy people and corporations all over the world to avoid paying taxes owed to their countries.”