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November 07, 2007

Liveblogging the Peru FTA - Rules debate edition

7:38 pm: Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) is taking the stand. "I have usually been on the other side of this debate than I am tonight." Tells stories about how she opposed China PNTR, increase in deficit and unsafe food. "When I saw an oporuntity for us to have labor and env standards as a core part of our trade agreement, it marked a difference from what even a Dem president was willilng to do on that score." Says she "hopes that the president of the US" will sign the TAA bill, even though he has said he will veto it. "Hopefully we can pass SCHIP" and other legislation, also things that Bush has also vetoed, as she explains why she is helping Bush out with the Peru FTA. "We cannot turn our backs on it... I don't want our party to be viewed as an anti-trade party." She says the Peru FTA "rises to the level of acceptance." Claims that the parliament of Peru passed the laws that were really passed by decree by the president, who is today crushing a labor strike. "The Peru FTA is not a big deal."

7:36 pm: Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine): "I didnt come to Washington to ignore my constituents back home." He is the leader rounding up no votes. Reminds folks that Bush is going to veto TAA.

7:33 pm: Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), one of the architects of the deal that is the reason for why Peru FTA is being voted on, he calls the Peru FTA "the antithesis of CAFTA." But Levin supported agreements exactly like NAFTA and CAFTA with Chile, Singapore, Morocco, Australia, and Bahrain, not to mention his key role in ushering the China PNTR through in 2000 - which arguably has had the largest economic impact on the U.S. economy of any trade deal.

7:28 pm: Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio): "This new direction Congress offers up more of the same... [saying you support the changed preamble language as a reason for supporting the Peru FTA] it's like saying you support the preamble to the Bill of Rights but not the rights themselves." Kaptur is really challenging Drier, who is talking about Whirlpool jobs (Whirlpool is a major Peru FTA pusher). Kaptur notes that this is the same Whirpool that that just offshored all the Maytag jobs in Iowa after buying it up.

7:26 pm: Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) lauds the "progressive" advances in the Peru FTA, contrasting it with past trade deals. He doesn't mention that he voted against fair trade on 11/19 votes, including many NAFTA-style trade agreements and the WTO.

7:20 pm: Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) is speaking up as the face of the deal. Remember that he is retiring in part because of questions of his massive conflicts of interest on Latin America trade deals: namely, he has investments that benefit directly from CAFTA, and he is married into the region's leading dictatorial family after Pinochet. It's pretty rich that he is talking about democracy as the reason for passing the deal.

7:15 pm: Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) is expressing skepticism that much is changed with the Peru FTA, since the new labor and environmental provisions leave it up to Bush to decide whether to enforce them. Stupak is also concerned about the WTO food and consumer safety inspection regime that gets locked in with the Peru FTA, which prioritizes "free passage of food" over "proper regulation."

7:14 pm: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is speaking, a freshman who ran on this following platform: "I do not support trade deals that do not require fully enforceable protections for workers rights and the environment on par with protections for business. Additionally, I do not support the growing threat in these free trade deals to undermine the ability of our nation and our state to pass and enforce laws and regulations in the public interest. I would have voted against NAFTA, CAFTA, and the range of similar free trade deals that recent administrations have negotiated. Our nation needs an entirely different approach to our engagement with the global economy, a sort of global New Deal that protects jobs and democracy here, and contains specific mechanisms to raise wages and living standards in out trading partner nations. Public pressure for such a change is growing as recent polling has indicated, and I intend to be one of the prime movers in Congress for such a change.” Mentions that the Peru deal is going to help lock-in social security privatization in Peru, and displace rural peasants in Peru. Also mentions we should never have any more Fast Track, and that Congress should get to amend trade pacts.

7:11 pm: Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) says "we have not fully achieved the job" of trade reform.  Announces there's going to be a hearing on investor-state issues, and acknowledges that nothing on Peru FTA investor-state was changed by the deal between Bush and some Dems.

7:08 pm: Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) is opposing the bill, arguing a very basic bottom line: is our trade policy creating net manufacturing jobs or not? He says not.

7:03 pm: Chairman Rangel taking the high road from the beginning, suggesting opponents are against trade and against Latin America. Rock and roll.

7:02 pm: Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) in favor of "free trade with free people," but he opposed NAFTA with Mexico. Also had a great song about it.

6:57 pm: Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), who in her campaign said, "The Republican leadership has thwarted the will of the American people, traded favors with lobbyists in the halls of our Temple of Democracy, sent our jobs overseas and voted to allow our president to torture." Now, she's on the floor asking why in the heck we're in such a rush to pass these trade deals when factories in her district are closed. She cited today's Meyerson piece that made the same point.

6:51 pm: Wanna play a fun drinking game? How many times will "Hugo Chavez" be mentioned during this debate? Drier has already said it several times. Not mentioned is the fact that Hugo Chavez rose in power in response to the implementation of neo-liberal policies in Venezuela. Message? Drier HEARTS Chavez. Drier also praises "socialist" Alan Garcia, who used to follow "bad" economic policies, but today (on the day of the Peru vote) broke a strike by workers. Not super bright, and not super socialist.

6:48 pm: Rep. David Drier (R-Calif.) is saying people that are against this trade deal are AGAINST U.S. EXPORTS, even though the U.S. International Trade Commission, the bipartisan and official source for trade projections, estimates that the U.S. global trade deficit will go up $100-300 million if the Peru FTA is signed. (A LITTLE MATH: EXPORTS - IMPORTS = TRADE DEFICIT.) He also mentioned that he wants to push forward down the slippery slope to the Colombia FTA, exactly what a lot of Washington insiders said would not happen if we just quietly let the Peru FTA pass.

6:34 pm: Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) is beginning the one hour debate on the rule, by celebrating the TAA bill passed last week in the House. Didn't mention that Bush will veto it.

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