Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Talking sense on CAFTA

Okay, so he doesn't really delve into the issues, but this is a nice bit from today's op-ed from one of Maine's two Congressmen, Michael Michaud.
At the end of the day, opponents of CAFTA have not asked for no trade deal at all, but merely for a simple renegotiation of the treaty in order to fix glaring problems and promote trade that is fair to workers on both sides. So far, the administration has refused.

How could such a bad deal for our workers pass? In recent days, the administration has authorized House leaders to secure votes with whatever is at hand, from extra funding for individual members' districts in the highway and energy bills to the still incomplete annual appropriations bills. Members are being asked to trade away their votes for a trade agreement that only promises to trade away American jobs.

Two years ago, this tactic worked to pass the deeply flawed Medicare bill by one vote - leadership held open a 15-minute vote for three hours while they twisted arms in order to ensure its passage. It is expected that the CAFTA vote will be more of the same.

Is this the way that the people's House should look after the best interests of our nation? What message does this send the American people and our work force? And why must these votes always be held in the dark of night? While working Americans sleep, their jobs are traded away in a Capitol Hill back room.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

It is precisely this type of belligerent protectionism in US trade policy – whether for jobs, goods or services - that contributes to the growing resentment of the United States abroad. International negotiations necessarily mean making compromises on certain issues in order to achieve gains in other areas – for a net result that is better for both parties. Not only does this article fail to recognize the considerable benefits CAFTA could bring to US consumers in terms of increased selection and lower-cost goods, it also overlooks the crucial opportunities for economic development the treaty might offer our Central American neighbours.

CAFTA is by no means a perfect solution. Like almost all other international trade agreements, it places economic integration above other pressing priorities such as labour rights, environmental protections, healthcare and education. There are many credible studies that argue that while such trade agreements may reduce net poverty levels, they also may exacerbate income inequality between rich and poor within and between countries.

Nevertheless, it would be asking a great deal of one agreement to find solutions to all of these challenges. Perhaps a much more appropriate sphere for addressing such problems is at the national level, with new social commitments and legislation to improve the plight of many Central Americans now living in poverty.

Such efforts might even find funding in the new tax revenue generated from foreign direct investment encouraged by agreements such as CAFTA.