Update: I got up Thursday morning, opened the paper, got to about page three and discovered that The House passed the CAFTA bill last night by two votes. That happened before I wrote this post last night, but since my primary source of news coverage after about 5:00 p.m. is The Daily Show, well… anyway, I have changed this post accordingly.
I first tuned into the CAFTA debate when I receive my June 2005 edition of The Hightower Lowdown. I read Jim’s feature piece and got angry, but for some reason I never got around to posting something about it. Well now that the Senate passed this terrible bill by a 54-45 margin, and my own two DEMOCRATIC senators voted for it, it’s high time I threw up something about in on the blog. So here you go. I’ll start with a snippet from Hightower’s rag:
Few Americans know that at the core of these scams are provisions establishing new, extraordinary rights for global corporate investors to establish properties (including intangible properties) in any of the member nations and to be “protected” from environmental, labor, health, or other regulations that We the People might choose to put on the way they operate. These provisions give “rights” to multinationals that people and independent businesses in our own country don’t have.
Many Congress critters who voted for NAFTA now say that, gosh, they hadn’t really read the bill, and, golly, no one told them about Chapter 11. This is the section of NAFTA that gives foreign corporations radical power that never existed in law before, including empowering corporate owners to use a private enforcement mechanism to impose their profit interests over all other interests.
And here’s an excerpt from Liza Grandia’s article for Common Dreams today:
Let’s be clear: Any member of Congress who votes for the Central American Free Trade Agreement has signaled their disregard for labor, environmental, farm, consumer and human rights groups that have spent the better part of a year actively opposing the Bush administration’s attempt to create trade policies that favor only the interests of multinational corporations.
That goes for Republicans, for independents and, especially, for Democrats.
And this is from John Nichols:
CAFTA is like having a house guest who cleans out your refrigerator, claims your nicest bed, spends hours in the bathroom, takes exclusive control of the television remote control, and then-like Paris Hilton-demands that you pay for the pleasure of her company and then writes you off as a business expense.
There are alternatives. If the U.S. is serious about strengthening economic ties with our closest neighbors, we could take a Common Market approach like Mercosur or the European Union. Europe opened up not only trade, but also labor markets to the lesser-developed regions of Europe. And, to help poorer member countries like Ireland become equal trading partners, the E.U. gives back 3.5% of Ireland’s GDP in grants.
So do your research and then contact your House Representative and let that person know what you think of how he/she voted.
And if you are a citizen of Washington State like me, you might want to also contact Senators Cantwell and Murray and ask them why they voted for this job-killing, corporate-welfare bill.
And remember, NAFTA + CAFTA = SHAFTA
The following is from an email I received from my uncle this morning:
I agree that I would have voted against CAFTA. The most disappointed people will be the Republicans that were bribed into support it. Business Week in the current addition cited a number of broken promises that Bush gave to GOP reps and sens in previous votes and then did not follow through. He has even promised things that CAFTA outlaws. Just a lying bastard.
From Business Week: And President Bush won support for fast-track negotiating authority in 2002 by pledging to expand trade-related unemployment benefits to include service workers but didn’t follow through. Overall, Public Citizen, an advocacy group and CAFTA opponent, says Administrations reneged on 80% of the 90 deals made during the past 12 years to secure votes for trade legislation.
Another source of CAFTA resistance: textile-state Republicans worried that the deal will hurt America’s 600,000 remaining clothing workers. To lure a handful of holdouts from the Southern textile belt, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman offered to require Central American clothing makers to buy linings and pockets from the U.S. in order to receive a full tariff reduction. That didn’t cheer every North Carolina clothing worker, but Senator Elizabeth Dole announced that it was good enough to win her vote. One hitch: The pockets-and-linings promise must be approved by all CAFTA countries, including the three that have already ratified the treaty.