Trade Double Cross

As we all may recall, the Dims made broad statements about “getting the world to like us again”, or my favorite, “we don’t want the world to think we’re bullies” to gain the majority in the Congressional elections. 

Well we heard about the first hundred hours/days (yawn), now, let’s applaude how Congress is getting foreign nations to ‘like’ us again (aka:  something else not accomplished by this Democratic Congress).

The Journal is reporting on its Op-Ed page that the Democrats reneged on free trade assurances with South Korea, Peru and Columbia that are barely a month old, and in certain instances have been under negotiation for more than two years.

 In the envisioned agreement with Peru, it was full-steam ahead until the AFL-CIO started lobbying Sander Levin to oppose it.  He followed his marching orders and appealed to Bela Pelosi, done deal.  Interestingly enough, both praised the original trade deal until their union handlers said otherwise. 

Good old Charlie Rangel, head of the House Ways and Means Committee, responsible for getting these trade agreements drafted quipped, “it’s no big deal, Peru has negotiated in good faith”, all they have to do is change some laws and this will all work out in the end.

Someone want to tell me how Peru must be feeling when it has to change its laws BEFORE the US will ratify the deal?

The pact with Columbia is even worse and the Democrats look like they’re going to pull the plug.  Columbia has been trying for years to combat the war on drugs and President Alvaro Uribe has reduced murders, terror attacks, robbery and kidnapping.  But the only way to thwart terrorism is to boost the Columbian economy through trade so that lower wage workers can participate in democratic capitalism.

One would presume this is a good idea.  Alas, the Democrats do not think so (surprise, surprise).  Congress has stated that they want to see solid evidence of sustained human rights improvements before they will agree to the deal.

Just what exactly does Congress intend to do with trade?

All of this suggests that the real goal of the Levin-Pelosi Democrats is to put an end to further trade expansion. The details don’t matter; any excuse will do. If they succeed, they will do great harm to U.S. economic and political interests. Rejecting the Peru and Colombia deals would be a strategic disaster, playing into the hands of Hugo Chávez and others who want to turn Latin America against the U.S. And while America sits on the trade sidelines, the rest of the world will keep cutting its own bilateral and regional deals that leave U.S. workers and businesses at a disadvantage.

The Beltway’s favorite theme these days is the decline of the Bush Administration, but the trade story is about Democratic protectionism and a political double-cross. The President and business community should stop taking punches and start warning about the damage that the Levin-Pelosi Democrats are doing to the economy and to America’s image in the world.

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