(Disclosure: Global Trade Watch has no preference among the candidates.)
Rossella Brevetti of BNA reports on the status of the 3 NAFTA expansions that W. has left hanging like a sword of Damocles for the next election:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) Sept. 23 confirmed the widely held view that Congress will not take up any of the stalled free trade agreements before the Nov. 4 presidential and congressional elections but said that "we'll see what happens after that."
"No action's going to happen on trade before the election. We'll see what happens after that," he said during a question-and-answer period after a speech at the Center for American Progress. Hoyer had been asked whether he saw any action on the Bush administration's stalled trade agenda in light of the financial crisis that has rocked Wall Street.
Q: Why does Obama want to amend NAFTA?
A: NAFTA's many things. It's a thousand pages long, it's riddled with loopholes. There are parts of it that are good. So his view from the outset is not that we should abolish NAFTA but that we should put environmental and labor agreements into the core of the agreement. NAFTA is not a state-of-the-art treaty. The most vocal proponents vastly overstated what it would do … rebuild manufacturing in the U.S., reduce illegal Immigration. If you're not going to open up the dialogue to all sides and take into account the people left out, you're not going to do any favors to the cause of open markets...
Q: Why has the campaign gone quiet on trade issues?
A: The biggest issue by far is taxes, alternative energy, health care and then if there's a fourth, it's probably issues with housing, the credit crunch and how to get the economy moving again. You might be putting excess importance on just trade. It's falling into the Republican trap to say that this involves trade agreements. It is more critical for us to address our fundamentals than arguing about whether we should sign a free trade agreement with Panama. That is an issue of symbolic importance.