The 800 Lb. NAFTA in the Room
Fast Track = dope

An "American" identity crisis

Robert Cassidy spent decades working for the U.S. Government to advance the free trade agenda, accumulating an impressive set of experience and credentials:

Corporate American Flag "Cassidy was the chief U.S. negotiator on China's 1999 market access agreement with the United States -- the document that was the basis for Congress's extension of permanent normalized trade relations to China, which in turn enabled China to join the World Trade Organization. During the 1990s, Cassidy was the assistant U.S. trade representative for the Asia-Pacific region, and before that he worked in the Treasury Department's international affairs office."

But, as reported in the Washington Post, Cassidy sang a different tune at an Economic Policy Institute (EPI) event in response to the uproar about keeping "Buy American" provisions in the stimulus package. After taking part in crafting certain inner workings of our current global economy, Cassidy is discontent with the results of his labor and the path they have put the United States on.

Cassidy emphasized a crucial point: that the interests of American multinationals are not, in fact, in line with our (the USA's) national interest. Here's how the WaPo broke it down:

"the economic relationship between the United States and China is the linchpin of the global economy -- that is, a central cause of the global economic crisis. China produces and we consume; China takes the proceeds from our consumption and lends it back to us, not so we can produce more -- American multinationals would prefer the Chinese do that -- but so we can take on more debt and continue to consume...

It speaks volumes about the last couple of decades of U.S. trade policy that the man who negotiated many key points of that policy now thinks that they were calculated not to enhance our national interest but, rather, those of U.S. financial and corporate interests.

The debate about the stimulus package before Congress has helped expose the huge rift between our national interest and that of our globalized business sector. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee voted almost unanimously to require the use of U.S.-made steel in the infrastructure projects included in the stimulus, unless the U.S. industry -- which is running at 43 percent of capacity -- was unable to supply it. You might think that American business, beyond the steel industry, would welcome such language, but, in fact, using Americans' tax dollars to stimulate American production looks like the last thing globalized American business wants. A letter opposing "Buy American" provisions in the stimulus has been signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and several other such groups.

It was bad enough when our banks and corporations decided to take their funds out of American manufacturing to promote low-wage production in China. Now they want to direct the tax dollars behind the stimulus program to the same end.

The only mystery here is why the Chamber and the Roundtable aren't compelled to register as foreign lobbyists. Of all the terms we could use to describe them, "American" certainly does not spring to mind."

This confusing allegiance (and harsh reality) is at the root of our troubles. And it begs a serious question, not only for citizens of the United States but of all countries: If our Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and trade representatives aren't representing the national interest, who is?

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Pete Murphy

There is no such thing as "global American business." There are companies that originated in America but have since evolved into global corporations with no real allegiance to America. They saw minimal opportunity for further profit growth in the U.S., due to market saturation, and looked to China as a gigantic, untapped market. They would happily abandon the U.S. market for the illusory market potential of China.

It's time to completely ignore any advice that emanates from these global corporations or their lobbying groups (including many prominent "think tanks," that "think" what they're paid to think), and do what's right for the American people.

It's an encouraging sign that some of the architects of globalization are having second thoughts.

Pete Murphy
Author, "Five Short Blasts"

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