Finally, Congress exhibited its long absent intestinal fortitude – guts – to stand up to the administration’s incessant scare tactics surrounding free trade agreements, notably the U.S. – Columbia Trade Promotion Agreement. Congress or should I say the Democrats – with a few exceptions – took action to delay the implementation of yet another lopsided and unfair free trade agreement.
H. Res. 1092 passed this week in Congress states as follows:
Resolved, That section 151(e)(1) and section 151(f)(1) of the Trade Act of 1974 shall not apply in the case of the bill (H.R. 5724) to implement the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement.
The sections mentioned detail time constraints under which free trade agreements are to be considered by Congress under the Free Trade Agreement Act of 1974. That Act required that Congress take up consideration of trade agreements 90 days after they are received from the White House. The recently-passed Resolution removes that timetable and allows delay in consideration of the Agreement.
The Indiana house congressional delegation voted on an expected partisan line with Visclosky, Donnelly, Carson, and Ellsworth voting to delay consideration and Souder, Burton, Pence, and Hill voting to take up the bill immediately. Buyer did not vote, and Hill was the lone Indiana Democrat to jump ship and side with the Republicans.
The Administration continues to use statements such as “helping an important ally in South America is in the political and security interests of the United States.” Absent from Bush’s yammering on security and political interests is any hint of how, once again, American workers will be benefited rather than hurt by another free trade agreement.
Free trade agreements are nothing more than corporate gifts from the administration. And, while many administrations have entered into these agreements over the past, the effect has now become painfully obvious. The agreements require few, if any, reciprocal efforts in the areas of environmental protection or human rights violations. Corporate powers-that-be are the beneficiaries of the following policy that can be found at the government’s export website:
Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) can help your company to enter and compete more easily in the global marketplace. Trade agreements help level the international playing field and encourage foreign governments to adopt open and transparent rulemaking procedures, as well as non-discriminatory laws and regulations. FTAs help strengthen business climates by eliminating or reducing tariff rates, improving intellectual property regulations, opening government procurement opportunities, easing investment rules, and much more.
The informational description contains no reference to how FTAs help American workers. The reason? FTAs do not help our workers. When the statement says “trade agreements help level the international playing field, what actually occurs is that American job losses increase through outsourcing.
As a final note, the new agreement is called a “trade promotion” agreement rather than a “free trade” agreement. The change in terminology is simply an exercise in semantics. A rose is a rose is a rose, and a trade agreement is a trade agreement no matter how you disguise it.