Saturday, May 21, 2005

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, 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.


At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Cassie Nelson said...

Look, I con't believe that you think that CAFTA would be a beneficial piece of legislation. Have you done no research what-so-ever on it's effects? Not only do tens of thousands of United States citizens lose their jobs, but more importantly, millions of Centeral Americans living with HIV/AIDS die.
Why? Because once the United States medications flood the market in Central America, generic medication companies are forced to raise prices in order to compete. Then peoples living with this awful disease, who are also living on paychecks smaller then the price of your dog's food for a month, whose paychecks will incidently get lower because of CAFTA. DIE. But before they die they spread their disease to their families and loved ones. Then those people die.
Don't believe me? This little republican created killing tool violates multiple accords set up by the UNAIDS foulndation and the WTO that are set up to prevent this. But don't take my word for it, go to google, and type in CAFTA, and AIDS and see what pops up.
I Dare You.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Rob Jackson said...

dude, some one dared you, must accept!!! Don't wait for CN to double or triple dog dare you, go to google right now!!!

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Rob Jackson said...

Okay, I didn't google CAFTA and AIDS but I did google "little republican created killing tool." Hits included something about gays, Osama and Michael Moore.

At 11:12 PM, Anonymous Cassie Nelson said...

Who are you people?
This is ridiculous, obviously you don't do anything. The writer of this blog doen't even read it and comment. WTFS!!!

At 12:07 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

O.k. I'll comment. Why would a company have to raise their prices to compete? The issue, as it seems, has to do with patents and the restrictions it would place on Central American companies who wish to create generic versions of AIDS drugs.

Fair concern. Maybe one that needs to be addressed (I'm still trying to find a non left-wing site that discuses this sans the overblown rhetoric). But let me offer this: One of the best ways to lift poor people out of poverty (that gives them the wealth to afford medicines and many other things) is to improve their nation's economy so there will be good jobs. CAFTA will create jobs. CAFTA will help solve the crushing poverty that's led to the AIDS crisis. It's no magic bullet. But it's much, much better for Central America than protectionist policies would be.

Also, no offense, but calling CAFTA a "little republican created killing tool" does not make you sound credible. It's that one statement that kept me from responding at first. I don't know how to debate someone who would actually believe Republicans are intentionally trying to kill people. I wonder if there is anything I could say to convince you that CAFTA is a good idea.

At 10:52 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


First, you made me laugh b/c I've spent part of my day trying to convince a conservative reader that I am not a big ole liberal. And then you say I am a perfectly decent republican. I'm not, btw. I'm an Independent who until very recently was a Democrat. Not that that impacts our debate.

You could convince me that parts of CAFTA should be changed but you're right that it'd be hard to convince me that it's a bad idea. Really, it's a philisophical disagreement about the role and influence of capitalism. I would guess you find capitalism to often be very oppressive. I find it to be liberating. We both probably can site libraries of evidence, so we'll just agree to disagree on the philosophy.

That leaves us with the specifics. First, Mexico's problems aren't a result of NAFTA but of Chinese competition. In my opinion, we should have done NAFTA about 15 or 20 years sooner. Competition from China has dulled some of the possitive effects of NAFTA. And the problem with China, from a free-market standpoint is that, they aren't a free market. Bascially, they cheat through all kinds of price and currency controls--not to mention general oppression of their people.

That all said, it's too soon to judge NAFTA. Mexico is still fining its footing.

As for CAFTA, I don't see how giving a country a greater ability to trade will ultimately hurt. This will let CA people to compete with us directly. Given that their cost-of-living is lower, they can work at lower wages and still live good lives. I'm sure your knowledgable on this argument and I won't bore you on repetition. It's suffice to say, I believe in the liberating power of the open market.

Now, as far as AIDS drugs go, I find the whole AIDS situating dismaying. As you know, there is more to this than just treating the ill. There is also prevention. And I think a better economy in CA would lead to better living standards, better education and, ultimately, better prevention.

But AIDS drugs should be more affordable. I don't claim to have a great solution. I think each nation should provide for their own people. But I recognize it is our pharma companies that make this situation difficult. Breaking the patents would significantly hinder incentive to devlop later drugs. But not breaking the patents means high costs for sufferers. It's a problem and one I admit I need to think more about.

Anyway, thanks for the conversation.


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