Corporations and constituents in Oregon
A recent article in The Oregonian gives a pretty clear assessment of Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Peter DeFazio's (D-Ore.) positions on the Peru deal. Although he did not support CAFTA and his own constituents protested the NAFTA expansion to Peru several weeks ago, Blumenauer is still supporting the deal. Now sitting on the Ways and Means committee, Blumenauer says he supports the Peru agreement because:
"This is the best trade agreement ever for people who care about worker rights. This will be a model for agreements in the future."
Guess he didn't get the memo that no labor groups actually support the deal or think it's a good model for future deals. Meanwhile, Blumenauer's constituents are not happy. Dan Denvir, a volunteer with the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC), says:
"Earl's totally out of touch with Portland. He's viewed as someone who, if enough political pressure is there, he will sometimes do the right thing on trade, but when it comes down to it, he votes for big business interests."
Speaking of big business, Brad Figel, Nike's Washington DC lobbyist, seems to think that Blumenauer is "very thoughtful" on trade issues:
"I know he fundamentally believes trade is essential for Oregon, but at the same time he is interested in making sure labor and environmental protections are adhered to."
Finally, DeFazio, who opposes the Peru agreement and the failed NAFTA model of trade, sums up the issue nicely:
"Sooner or later the policymakers are going to wake up to the reality that the American people know, which is we are undermining the most successful system in the world, that brought the largest middle class in the world, with our trade policies. Unfortunately, a small percentage of Democrats and a large majority of Republicans are still blind to this because the corporations love what's happening."