Why a knee-jerk rejection of the Dems' grand trade bargain is appropriate ...
Sirota does a great job, below, running down the chronology of the Democratic trade deal that has the Chamber of Commerce so excited.
And I understand David's caution when he says, "we have to reserve final judgment on what the deal ultimately means" until the details are released. Normally, I agree 100% -- I don't comment on things I haven't read.
But in this case, I don't really need to see the details. Why? Well, for one thing, I know that the kind of dramatic policy change -- notably some serious redistributive policies -- that might make new trade deals acceptable are not in the offing. It's just a question of DC's political culture.
More importantly, whatever the details, the deal ultimately comes down to trusting the word of one George W. Bush; the Dems grant him fast-track and he promises -- crosses his heart -- to do certain things with that authority, namely, negotiate the proverbial "labor and environmental protections" that are supposed to make the kind of trade deals that a majority of Americans dislike palatable. But once he has that fast-track authority, he has it -- whatever the USTR negotiates comes to an up-or-down vote without amendments. Then, as Sherrod Brown described so well in his book, The Myth Of Free Trade, the corporate jets start stacking up over DC and it's the CAFTA vote all over again.
Do you trust Bush to keep his word to Congressional Dems?
Lastly, I've heard this same number before; we already have a shiny new bipartisan framework for future trade deals that's supposed to promote human- and worker-rights and protect the environment. It's called the U.S.-Jordan FTA, and those same DLC-types and New Dems who are pushing this deal rolled it out like it was the Holy Grail. Clinton negotiated it, expecting to put all the controversy over trade to bed once and for all. In a 2003 report, the Congressional Research Service said it "breaks new ground by including multiple worker rights provisions in the body of a U.S. trade agreement, rather than as a side agreement, for the first time. For this reason, it adds some controversy to the congressional debate over whether worker rights provisions should be included in future trade agreements. Some observers eye this configuration of worker rights protections as a model for future trade agreements; others view it as a one-time occurrence justified only because Jordan has a strong tradition of labor protections." That's right -- people were worried its protections were too progressive.
Well, a few years later and the results are in. The National Labor Committee's report on its impact is titled: "U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement Descends into Human Trafficking and Involuntary Servitude." This New York Times article from last year details Jordan's abundant sweatshops.
Do you trust the word of the people who made the same promises about the Jordan FTA?
Finally, we simply shouldn't be going forward without a major rethink of a lot of the assumptions that form the basis for these deals. Practically speaking, nothing is going to budge if Bush doesn't get fast-track. So not giving it to him, at the very least, will give us a much-needed pause in the bipartisan march towards greater "liberalization." That's the very least the Dems can do for American workers.