Sunday, May 22, 2005

Can it be?

Have some among the Dimcrats finally had enough? Can it be? The Washington Post said on Saturday that in "a major setback for the Bush administration," some
[t]raditionally pro-business and pro-trade House Democrats have announced plans to vote against the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement....

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), a New Democrat co-chairman, acknowledged that "there is no question, it's a risky step" to oppose the agreement. But, he argued, the Bush administration, with Republican congressional backing, has undermined the worker-protection precedents for domestic and foreign workers that were added to treaties during the Clinton administration. The Bush administration's goal is to "take care of business first, second and last, and not do enough to make sure workers are getting their fair share," Smith said.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), another co-chairman, said "the promise of trade liberalization has not lived up to the rhetoric, certainly not for American workers."
I would certainly dispute Smith's contention about the "protections" Clinton got in: They were more like sidebar commentaries of a "we think things should work out this way" type rather than actual binding protections and they exist even in that form only due to the demands of environmental and labor activists, not because Clinton pushed for them. However, I do welcome the New Democrat Coalition's realization, late in the game though it is.

But better late than never, and in the wake of the failure of the drive for a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the so-far sputtering efforts on behalf of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the expression of opposition by the 40-member Coalition, formerly solidly free-trade, could be significant beyond its numbers.

Footnote: The "risk" to which Smith referred was upsetting corporate contributors.
In a letter to the New Democrat Coalition last week, the heads of eight high-tech trade associations wrote: "CAFTA makes important progress in areas critical to the long-term success of our industry, and we consider the vote on this agreement to be one of the most important of 2005. We hope that you will reconsider your opposition."
Hi-tech is one of the few industries where contributions are not heavily weighted toward the GOPpers. The risk of annoying them was considered central enough to the story to be mentioned in the very first sentence of the Post's story, a good indication of what drives most political decisions these days. Which, in turn, gives the willingness of some Dims to go in the face of that an even greater political significance.

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