Centrist Democrats Should Support CAFTA
One of the most important pieces of legislation working its way through the Congress is the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). America’s ability to manage our nation’s transition to the global economy depends on CAFTA’s passage. But the free-trade agreement is not a done deal.
Writing for RealClearPolitics.com, Froma Harrop explains why CAFTA is so important:
It really matters where the jobs that Americans lose go. That's what CAFTA is about. It's not about destroying textile jobs in the Carolinas. They're history, anyway -- if not this year, then in five years. CAFTA is about keeping work that would otherwise go to China in our hemisphere.
The Central American Free Trade Agreement would cut tariffs on commerce among the United States, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The Dominican Republic, which is in the Caribbean, also wants to join…
Americans would be better off if their imports came from Managua, rather than Guangdong [China]. After all, our Latin neighbors are more likely to buy the things we have to sell. That's why farmers producing beef, pork and corn are all for these treaties. So are U.S. companies that make machinery, especially for construction.
Then there are foreign-policy considerations. CAFTA partners would include very poor countries with fragile democracies. More trade with the United States could stabilize them -- and reduce the pressures on their people to come here illegally. And if the workers make more money, they'll be able to buy more American goods.
Free trade has rarely been a party-line vote. While usually more Republicans support these agreements than do Democrats, there is usually a solid block of Centrist Democrats eager to sign on. Not so this time.
For CAFTA to pass the House, at least 20 Democrats will have to sign on. Right now, there are maybe six that will definitely vote for it. Why so few? Because, apparently, Democrats are so intent on opposing every single piece of legislation the President supports that even free-trade Dems are willing to forgo their convictions in favor of their party’s obsession with obstruction.
That’s condemnable. Free-trade Democrats have always been on the right side of this important issue. They should show the courage of conviction and support CAFTA.