5:35pm: I'm out.
5:18 pm: Sanders conceding that NAFTA has been good for some Mexicans... well, one. Carlos Slim, the world's richest man.
5:14 pm: "If you like NAFTA, you'll love the Peru FTA. Most people in America don't like NAFTA."
5:10 pm: Once you've been in DC a few years, it really is amazing how rarely you hear members talk about class and inequality in America - something that, after getting back from Chicago where my brother lives, most people in America are comfortable talking about. Sanders is not afraid of going there. Now, he's citing IIE and CEPR studies that document the inequality...
5:06 pm: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), fair trade champion, bringing the pain on Peru FTA, leading off with unsafe imports
5:01 pm: By way of a little advance warning, I am probably going to head home within the next hour (got stuck overnight in Chicago last night, am fighting a cold... did I mention that airport contracted illnesses skyrocketed after NAFTA??!! We need a change in this trade model!), but if people want to liveblog it post 5:30 pm or so in the comment section, you can follow the awesome display of senatorial argumentation at C-Span 2 at this link.
4:50 pm: Grassley is taking on the argument that the Peru FTA will worsen our food safety laws... we wrote a report on this. He argues that there hasn't yet been a challenge of U.S. food safety laws. This is a complex debate, but the WTO challenge of EU's food safety regime is case one that it could happen. If we ever GET some good food safety laws, you can bet this could happen to us under the WTO, NAFTA and Peru FTA laws. The Peru FTA opens up our current food safety laws - low as they are - to claims for compenstation from corporations.
4:43 pm: Okay, we don't work on Venezuela here, but the stuff that gets said about the country is ridiculous. If possible, the media misrepresentations of what goes on there rival or exceed what is said about trade policy. In particular, the proposal to have MORE elections, institute gay rights and other measures is commonly described as some sort of attempt to abolish democracy. Well, that measure was voted down democratically today, and the government is respecting the result. For more on that situation, check out an insightful and funny blog at www.BoRev.Net. A more academic take is here. Nevetheless, as we argue here, the best way to avoid more Chavez's - if that's the goal - is to avoid contributing to economic misery and displacement abroad. Last time I checked, that's how populism succeeds...
4:40 pm: Grassley admits that the FTA will lock-in policies in Peru that current neo-liberal governments passed but which future governments will be bound to.
4:29 pm: Grassley cites the USITC report as justification for passing the Peru FTA. Keep in mind that this report, the official U.S. government assessment, shows our global trade deficit will increase with the Peru FTA.
4:26 pm: Despite the fact that you can't make an economic argument in favor, Grassley and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) try to by saying Peruvians will buy tons of our exports.
4:23 pm: Grassley admits that there is no economic justification for the Peru FTA, and it's all geopolitical. But iIn the words of Archbishop Pedro Barreto, the President of the Episcopal Commission for Social Action of the Catholic Church in Peru, “We are certain that the trade agreement will increase the cultivation of coca, which brings along with it a series of negative consequences including drug
trafficking, terrorism and violence.”
4:22 pm: My feed went out for a while. Apologies. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Finance Committee, endorsing the Peru FTA as expected.
3:49 pm: Dorgan: Despite new labor rights, neither Bush nor the Chamber plan on enforcing them or want them to be enforced, as evidenced by their rejection last year of the proposal by then-Peruvian president Toledo to include ILO conventions themselves in the core text of the agreement. The Jordan FTA shows that paper labor rights are not enough...
3:46 pm: Dorgan: "This agreement will not harm the economic interests of the United States. I don't argue that. But it's an extension of a failed model."
3:40 pm: Dorgan reminding people of the radical, demogoguery of the claim that there is a connection between a net trade deficit and job loss in tradable sectors... sadly, this is still not widely conceded by the pro-NAFTA side, despite hundreds of years of economic theory.
3:30 pm: Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) speaking about Bush's NAFTA expansion to Peru, and called for benchmarks in FTAs so that trade balance is maintained, job creation in tradable sectors prioritized...
3:19 pm: Debate is beginning. Vote will happen at 2:15 pm tomorrow.
We'll be liveblogging the Peru FTA Senate vote, momentarily.