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Son of NAFTA vs. Middle America
Koo Koo Ka Choo
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02/03/2011 11:20 AM
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Middle American News
Blog for February 2011
Son of NAFTA vs. Middle America
By Peter B. Gemma
What issue can forge together a coalition whose members range from the AFL-CIO to Donald Trump and from Congressman Ron Paul to consumer advocate Ralph Nader?
Oh, and add President Obama to the list, although he has been on both sides of this debate.
What’s at stake is the proposed Korea Free Trade Agreement.
Here is candidate Barack Obama on why he opposed the treaty first negotiated by President George W. Bush:
“The only trade agreements I believe in are ones that put workers first—because trade deals aren’t good for the American people if they aren’t good for working people. That’s why I opposed CAFTA [the Central America Free Trade Agreement]. That’s why I oppose the South Korea Free Trade Agreement.”
Now, after a few tweaks in the original pact George Bush negotiated, President Obama says: “It’s estimated that [the Korea] deal alone will increase American economic output by more than our last nine free trade agreements combined.” Huh? Does that include CAFTA or the monstrous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)? What happened to change candidate Obama’s mind?
Enter here Wall Street moguls, multi-national corporate elites, and some very naïve politicians who embrace anything labeled “free trade”—even if the legislation defies truth in labeling logic.
The Korea Free Trade Agreement has nothing to do with free or fair trade. It’s managed trade as defined in over a thousand pages filled with favors and exceptions for some special interests, while imposing obligations and restrictions on the beleaguered American manufacturing sector.
When this writer recently interviewed Ian Fletcher, Adjunct Fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council about the pending agreement, he noted that “We’ve been through these games with over a dozen other nations before, and it always seems to turn out that the U.S. actually respects its market-opening agreements, while foreign nations game the system. How many times do we have to get burned before we learn?”
Washington bureaucrats are deluded by the idea that the world is moving toward varied practices of capitalism. There is no such trend. The U.S. is economically emasculated by foreign government-managed economies constantly increasing our enormous trade deficit. As Ian Fletcher puts it, “A big part of the problem is that many foreign trade barriers are not tariffs, or indeed any formal legal barrier at all—they’re covert policies and understandings that foreign governments have with their own corporations which enable them to keep out American goods without violating the letter of any treaty they sign with us.”
President Obama is counting on Republicans to score major political points for him by passing this NAFTA-like deal—because most of his own party opposes it. In a letter to the White House signed by more than 100 Democratic Congressmen, the lawmakers list a variety of reasons they oppose the Korea treaty including the “specific provisions of the agreement in the financial services, investment and labor chapters because they benefit multi-national corporations at the expense of small businesses and workers.”
[link to www.manews.org]
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