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Wallach and Tucker in American Prospect: Parties realign on flawed trade deals

Our own Lori Wallach and Todd Tucker have a piece in the American Prospect today. Here’s a snippet:

American Prospect logoAs he gears up for a difficult re-election campaign, President Obama risks losing key swing states that he won in 2008 because of a recent flip-flop on trade commitments…
Even the government’s own study, produced by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), showed that these pacts would increase U.S. imports by more than exports…
Instead of probing such matters, most mainstream press reports over the entire four-plus year debate simply parroted corporate and Obama-administration talking points.

The missed political storyline, too, was equally astounding. Two-thirds of Democratic House members opposed Obama on the Korea pact and 82 percent who opposed him on the Colombia pact. It's his biggest split with House Democrats thus far. The number who voted against the deal is even greater than the percentage of House Dems who opposed the Patriot Act (63 percent) or the war-funding bills (56 percent). And of course, Obama got nothing in return for the capitulation: Republicans advanced the trade pacts while blocking his second stimulus package. So much for negotiation.

It took Bill Clinton nearly eight years of NAFTA job losses, sellouts, and scandals to have about two-thirds of the House Democrats vote against China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2000. Obama managed to meet and beat that record with his first trade votes. The percentage of Democratic House votes against these deals even surpassed Democrats’ average level of opposition to Republican presidents’ trade initiatives.

Click here for the full article.

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Gil Wooten

I have long thought that free trade agreements contribute more to our
imports than to our exports. The exports that stand to benefit most
are farm products and coal. Existing free-trade deals have disrupted
social structures by underselling indigenous corn farmers in Mexico
and other farmers in Haiti, while we help China worsen global warming by burning our coal. Another point not made by Wallach & Tucker is that most of the technologically smart people are Asians and not
Europeans or Americans; this can be seen by looking at the authors'
names on papers in engineering journals. Another is that these
agreements seem to contain no safety nets to ensure that the USA
retains capacity to produce things that are essential to our autonomy,
national defense, and public health, such as semiconductor chips, computers, important software, electrical distribution equipment (such
as big transformers) communications equipment, radars, prescription medicines, etc. Note also that the Smoot-Hawley tariff came AFTER the stock-market collapse, and trade did not amount to very much in the
20s and 30s anyway. "Tariffs" and "protectionism" are not dirty words.

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