An interview on the "deal" on CNN from last night, after the jump:
DOBBS: Up next, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the very powerful Congressman Charlie Rangel. He'll be here. We'll be talking free trade and sellout by the Democratic leadership. Stay with us.
Democratic leaders approving a compromise with the Bush administration on free trade. Critics say the deal is bad for American workers. They say Democratic leadership turned their backs on the very people who voted them into office last November.
Congressman Charlie Rangel is the powerful chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, one of those Democrats who approved the trade deal.
DOBBS: As you know, Mr. Chairman, a lot of criticism on this deal within your own party. Congressmen like Bob Sherman, Marcy Kaptur - some of - Marcy Kaptur among the great voices of conscience in the Democratic Party say this deal isn't transparent and doesn't make sense to her. What do you think?
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D-NY), WAYS AND MEANS CMTE: I think they have a valid point. There are so many pieces, moving parts that it had to touch basis with. I was dealing with the U.S. Secretary - the U.S. representative for trade. I was dealing with the secretary of treasury. I was dealing with the president of the United States. I was dealing with labor leaders. I was dealing with the freshman class, the Black Caucus, the Asian Caucus, the leadership and the Republicans.
But I'm not in nearly as much trouble as I was when it was announced. Really.
DOBBS: Well, the issue of transparency. The second part, of course, is the issues of both labor protection and environmental protection, labor standards, environmental protection, the White House is saying effectively whatever comes out of this will be side letters, it will not e incorporated into the body of anything that passes Congress.
How do you react?
RANGEL: That's 100 percent wrong. For so many years when we were excluded from participating as Democrats in formulating some type of trade policy, as we said earlier, the policy by the Constitution belongs to the Congress. The negotiations we delegate to the executive branch.
So what we agreed to was really to labor and environment will be have to be put into the agreement. Two agreements that have already been sealed, the government has agreed to open them up and put it in.
And the other two the legislature will have to open it up and put it in. The question isn't, is it going to be a part of every trade agreement? The question is how do you intend to enforce it?
DOBBS: That's one of the questions. A lot of people have held up the Jordanian free trade agreement that's been around now for just about eight years and it is a disaster.
RANGEL: There is no question that we have a problem with China. We have a great problem with Jordan. We see a potential problem that we're not going to have with Colombia in my opinion, but what we're doing is establishing an international standard that America should be proud of the fact that when you do business with us, not only are we concerned about now, for the first time, the impact that it's going to have on American businesses and American communities, but we're concerned about how you treat your people. Whether they get access to health care. Whether they will have disposable income. Whether we can help you, the developing country, with the environment.
DOBBS: The question, becomes, at least to me and I think to lots of people who voted last November, what in the world are we doing here for American workers who have been left out of the equation?
What about our folks?
RANGEL: I agree with you. I'm saying today as chairman what I said when I was in the minority, that the United States trade representatives, when they're negotiating with a foreign country, should not be negotiating as lobbyists for our multinationals.
When they sit at that table, and U.S. is in there, it means that yes they're supposed to get a better than fair deal for our businesses but they have to consider the impact that it's going to have on American jobs, American communities and American industry.
This is now a part of the policy. This policy is going to be in every agreement. If you're talking about Peru, Panama, Korea or Colombia, this is going to be - and they have to be held accountable not - to the United States.
DOBBS: This Congress has subordinated itself to the executive in fast track authority. It has for 30 years. It has in point of fact allowed 30 consecutive years of trade deficits. Will you extend the president's fast track authority?
RANGEL: I think not, but as we explained earlier...
DOBBS: ... May I quickly hallelujah? Is that OK?
RANGEL: Yes, but...
DOBBS: ... in a purely American way, not a partisan way at all.
RANGEL: If we take a look at an international agreement that has been going on for years that no one has any high expectations that it's going to succeed, the question of how Europeans subsidize their farmers, how we're addicted to subsidies for our farmers, how are you going to break that lock? I don't know.
But I might say that if it appears as though the only reason it's not succeeding is because our trade representative does not have the authority for this negotiation, one the committee is thinking about just at that period, not to have Doha (ph) international trade negotiations to fail because we didn't give us the authority to participate.
Other than that we're not looking at it.
DOBBS: I've got to take back my hallelujah, don't I?
RANGEL: No, no, no, no. You can keep up to the big one.
DOBBS: Congressman Charlie Rangel, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Good to have you here.
RANGEL: Good to be back, Lou. Thank you so much.
DOBBS: Thank you.