Bernie Sanders just made the Panama Papers the story of the Democratic Primary. By opposing the Panama Free Trade agreement back in 2011 based on fears of corruption, the Vermont Senator has propelled this story into the 2016 election cycle, potentially shaking up the race before the important New York Primary.
On October 12, 2011, Sen. Sanders took the Senate floor to denounce the Panama trade pact, shooting down the conventional arguments in favor of the deal.
“Panama’s entire economic output is only $26.7 billion per year, or about two-tenths of one percent of the US economy,” Sanders said at the beginning of his speech. “No one can legitimately claim that approving this free trade agreement will significantly increase American jobs.”
“Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade US taxes by stashing their cash in offshore tax havens. The Panama free trade agreement will make this bad situation much worse. Each and every year, the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations evade about $100 billion in taxes through abusive and illegal offshore tax havens in Panama and in other countries.”
This issue immediately takes notice because of then Secretary Clinton's opposite response to the Panama Free Trade Agreeement, just one day after Bernie Sanders took the floor in the speech above. She congratulated President Obama and had this statement:
“These initiatives are the leading edge of a job-creating trade agenda that will open markets, level the playing field for our businesses and workers, and champion America’s working families in an age of tough global competition. They deserve the historic and widespread support they received in Congress tonight. We will continue our work to rebuild an American consensus on trade.”