Skip to comments.WSJ: Trading Places (NAFTA through CAFTA)
Posted on 07/29/2005 5:22:52 AM PDT by OESY
The House pulled out a victory on the Central American Free Trade Agreement late Wednesday, though so narrowly that the White House may need to rethink its "bilateral" trade strategy. Protectionists have all the intensity on these smallish trade deals, while supporters tend to be less passionate than they would be on larger, multilateral agreements such as the ongoing Doha global trade round.
Another negative political note is the declining support among Democrats for open trade. The White House had to deliver 202 House Republicans to pass Cafta, 217-215, because only 15 Democrats bucked their party leadership to vote yes. Not a single Democrat from California or Oregon voted aye, and only one (Norm Dicks) from Washington -- all states that benefit enormously from exports.
Cafta represents a new trade low for House Democrats, who delivered 102 votes for Nafta as recently as 1993, and 112 votes for most-favored-nation treatment for China in 1997....
Some of this reflects changing control of the White House, with Democrats less willing to risk the wrath of the AFL-CIO without Presidential cover. But it's still unfortunate because trade politics since the 1930s has tended to be more regional than partisan. The economic isolationism that used to reside on the political right has now migrated to the left. This Democratic turn against trade is dangerous because it means that one of our major political parties is rejecting America's leadership role in the global economy. Bill Clinton's New Democratic Party, R.I.P.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
This could be dangerous politically. Many of the states that benefit the most from free trade such as the West Coast states are locked into Democratic hands because of social issues such as Abortion. If the Democrats become the party of protectionism, they will keep those states and increase their strength in the Swing States of the Rust Belts/Great Lakes States.