Sunday, April 20, 2008

the NAFTA spat

So Bill Clinton was in my hometown, Roanoke Rapids, NC, doing some politicking and trying to pander votes from a community that has been economically stagnant that last few decades. Here are some of his words:
"We can bring manufacturing back to America now," Clinton said on an outdoor stage, with the now-closed mill that was featured in the 1979 Sally Field movie "Norma Rae" looming behind him. "But we have to have a commitment."
During the event, Bill wisely did not mention his previous support of NAFTA, which he pushed through Congress during his presidency, and which along with other free trade agreements, have led to the offshore movement of blue collar manufacturing jobs from places like Roanoke Rapids to places like China and Mexico. If he had done so, he would have discovered a strong, visceral reaction to NAFTA that can be found in any region that has lost out in the globalization game. A recent poll published in the Wall Street Journal showed that Democrats in Ohio disapprove of NAFTA by a 59-13 margin.

Playing to the discontent of voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio, Hillary has repeatedly said that she would consider a renegotiation of NAFTA and claimed to have a history of opposing NAFTA when her husband was in office. Not surprisingly, White House records show that when Hillary Clinton was first lady, she attended several meetings designed to build congressional support for NAFTA. Obama is guilty of waffling on NAFTA too.

The bottom line is, despite bashing free trade in cities like Roanoke Rapids where thousands of blue-collar manufacturing jobs have been lost, neither Obama or Hillary would dare touch NAFTA once in office because free trade is good for our economy:
"... U.S. imports from Mexico have risen sharply since 1993, from $48 billion to $216 billion in 2006. But U.S. exports to Mexico have tripled in the same period, from $52 billion to $156 billion. In 2007, according to the Department of Commerce (PDF), trade with Mexico—America's second-largest trading partner—accounted for less than 10 percent of the trade deficit." ...from "Making sense of the Clinton/Obama NAFTA spat."
Globalization and free trade has always been win-win for the US economy, so all the NAFTA bashing we've been seeing is really moot. I was expecting a more honest political discourse this election season, especially with "Straight Talk Express" heading up the GOP. However after reading the following McCain quip, I've realized were in for another "silly season" in politics.
"One of our greatest assets in Afghanistan are our Canadian friends. We need our Canadian friends, and we need their continued support in Afghanistan," McCain said. "So what do we do? The two Democratic candidates for president say they're going to unilaterally abrogate NAFTA. "How do you think the Canadian people are going to react to that?" McCain said.
So, his discombobulated logic here is that we shouldn't renegotiate NAFTA because we need Canada's support in Afghanistan - (all 5000 or so of the token force they have there.)


Anonymous said...

I say no renegotiation, let's call the whole thing off. That includes the commitments in sharing petroleum resources. Our manufacturing sector in Canada has been hit harder than it has Stateside and is shedding jobs by the hundreds of thousands. Since that part of NAFta has collapsed I say kill the whole deal. The Chinese just coughed up a three hundred percent increase for potash in their latest contract. Just imagine what they'll pay for a long lasting steady supply of oil.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. Only, as a Canadian, I want no truck nor trade with the renegotiation nonsense. Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton may think they're the only players of merit in this game, but I've got news for them...and it's all bad. No renegotiations, no reworking, no readjustments. It goes one way or the other: kill it or keep it. And I'm all for the former!

Phillip said...

I've heard the theories that globalization is good for the economy, and it certainly is for the U.S. economy because we more or less run things or have the resources to get our way. Good observation on the blue-collar anti-NAFTA pandering by all candidates.

Pandering reflects the mentality that the ruling elite know what's best for us even when we don't, which is quite often true, and unfortunately trying to explain to the affected populace why NAFTA won't be dismantled loses more votes than mendacious pandering wins.

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