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Do Nothing or, At Least, Do Do Harm PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Saturday, 12 April 2008
AFF Sentinel Vol.5#15

House Democrats to Beef Industry: Drop Dead. South Koreans Spooked by House Reneging

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's political backtracking has made doubtful a vote ever on the Columbia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and thrown a shadow over upcoming South Korean meetings.

"The Democratic Party's protectionist makeover was completed yesterday, when Nancy Pelosi decided to kill the Columbia Free Trade Agreement," a Wall Street Journal editorial said, ("Pelosi's Bad Faith," 4/10/08).

The 2006 pact was renegotiated last year to accommodate Democratic demands for tougher labor and environmental standards, the Journal noted. There were 250 consultations with Democrats and further concessions. None of that satisfied stalling Democrats and the FTA has languished.

Finally forcing action, President Bush sent the agreement to Congress, triggering a 90-day up-or- down vote deadline, under prior rules negotiated between the Administration and Congress. Instead of honoring the rules, Pelosi called for - and got (224- 194) -- a vote to suspend the 90-day deadline, effectively tabling a vote indefinitely. Pelosi's goal is to duck a vote that would anger business contributors and consumers who understand free trade widens their choices and buying power.

The FTA was negotiated under Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that presidents no longer have. Congressional Democrats blocked its renewal last June. The Journal's assessment of the U.S.' trade reputation now?

"For good measure, the double-cross dismantles the only process that allows any Administration to conduct good-faith negotiations with foreign nations. No one is going to take the U.S. at its word if Congress is going to change the rules ... renege."
Bingo. When the South Koreans heard about Pelosi's shenanigans, it significantly disturbed negotiations surrounding high-level negotiations to fully open that market. It had been hoped an upcoming meeting between South Korea's new prime minister and President Bush would seal the deal.

Pelosi claimed the FTA would harm "the economic concerns of America's working families." Evidently, only working union families count for Pelosi. The millions of families working for foreign-owned companies in America, the billions of dollars and families - especially in agriculture who depend on farm exports -- and the consumer/voters who depend on imports for certain products and inflation fighting -- don't count. The WSJ noted the FTA would lower tariffs on American goods now as high as 35 percent.

The NCBA noted beef now faces 80 percent tariffs the FTA would remove immediately on Prime and Choice beef and over 15 years on the balance. Nearly all Columbian imports are already tariff free. So Democrats want to continue penalizing American companies and workers, especially cattlemen, blocking new revenue and jobs. Columbia is the largest South American market for American farm products ($1.2 billion in 2007-USDA).

Why else is Pelosi doing this? The Democrats owe the labor unions, which object to import competition. Their interest is union jobs not consumers or the economy. Opposition was "conveyed pretty forcefully to leadership ...," Thea Lee, AFL-CIO Policy Director told, a Washington publication ("Pelosi Trumps Bush on Trade," 04/09/08.). Democrats also owe environmental extremists who want foreign countries to meet their demands for environmental protection.

Additionally, the liberals, whose ultimate goal is more government control over business and citizen's lives, want voters to see the Democrats extracting more government handouts for economic stimulation. Taking money from some citizen/taxpayers to give to others is their policy. As said, "Pelosi [is] holding the Colombia trade deal hostage to gain leverage on a second economic stimulus package."

Incredibly, Pelosi cited decreased consumer buying power in justifying her stall, yet she opposes trade deals that would boost consumer choice and buying power.

The WSJ:

"... Pelosi's cheating is a first-order strategic blunder. Columbia is one of America's closest friends in a hostile region menaced by Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. For all the talk of repairing the U.S. "image" in the world, the Democrats don't really mind harming that image if it pleases the AFL- CIO."

Whether terming it a blunder -- the charitable view - - or prevarication (we'll say one thing and do another) -- the cynical view -- the lady who wore extremist Muslim women's garb when she visited our enemies overseas, is now spurning our friend in South America. She's giving Chavez a score, stroking the protectionists, the unions, the environmental extremists. She's scorning those companies, farmers, ranchers and workers who feed and supply the world, as well as provide Americans their standard of living.

Memo to those who in 2006's elections decided to "send a message" to the Republicans who had not been conservative enough - especially fiscally. The Democrats have decided to pacify the far left and the labor unions in order to maintain enough votes - no matter what. While many felt disappointed in Republicans when they were the majority, they can do nothing in the minority. Republicans have re-proven the maxim they lose elections when they abandon conservatism. Now, the Democrats will try to prove they can move far left and still win.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 05 May 2008 )
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