Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stupid Policy, Stupid Politics

Shit on Labor? Why Not? It's something this Administration seems to do for fun:
WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama is risking a revolt within his own party as he presses ahead on a free trade agreement with South Korea, setting the stage for a showdown after November legislative elections.

Organized labor, a critical support base for Obama's Democratic Party, and several Democrats have already vowed to fight the deal which they say would hurt workers.

"To try and advance the Korean FTA when so many workers are still struggling to find work would simply move our economy backward," said Representative Louise Slaughter, a Democrat who leads the powerful Rules Committee.

The deal would be the largest for the United States since the the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico in 1994.
This was a deal negotiated by Bush and has the same problems found in the rest of the NAFTA style trade agreements. Some of the details:
Foreign Investor Rights. The investment chapter still affords foreign investors greater rights than those enjoyed by U.S. investors. Not one word was changed in the Korea FTAs’ foreign investor chapters that promote off-shoring, and subject our domestic environmental, zoning, health and other public interest policies to challenge by foreign investors in foreign tribunals. The Korea FTA also allows challenges by foreign investors in foreign tribunals of timber, mining, construction and other concession contracts with the U.S. federal government.

Food Safety Provisions. The amended text does not address limits on imported food safety and inspection. These FTAs still contain language requiring the United States to accept imported food that does not meet our safety standards.

Procurement Provisions. The Korea FTA procurement rules subject many common federal and state procurement policies to challenge in trade tribunals and directly forbid other common procurement policies. These procurement rules continue the NAFTA/CAFTA ban on anti-off-shoring and Buy America policies and expose U.S. renewable energy, recycled content and other environmental safety requirements to challenge.

Agriculture Provisions. The text does not address the problems in the NAFTA-style agriculture trade rules that have simultaneously undermined U.S. producers’ ability to earn a fair price for their crops at home and in the global market place. Multinational grain trading and food processing companies have made enormous profits while farmers on both ends have been hurt. Continuing this model is projected to increase hunger; illicit drug cultivation; undocumented migration; and continue the race to the bottom for commodity prices, pitting farmer against farmer and country against country to see who can produce food the cheapest, regardless of standards on labor, the environment or food safety.

Access to Medicines. While the amended text of these FTAs removes the most egregious, CAFTA-based, provisions limiting the access to affordable medicines, the text still includes NAFTA provisions that undermine the right to affordable medicines for poorer countries contained in the WTO’s Doha Declaration.
Obama has always been a fan of this broken model of trade, so him pushing these agreements isn't a surprise. And his Administration has shown multiple times that he doesn't give a shit about going against labor in a legislative fight.

But just like the way his Administration has embraced the deficit fetishists, Obama has once again endorsed the always elusive dumb policy/dumber politics combo. Not only is the NAFTA model of free trade a disaster, but it's extremely unpopular with voters! Not to mention it's going out of the way to pick a fight with union members, who will be even less likely to turn out to work for Democratic campaigns.

The 2010 midterms might have been bad without this stuff, but the Administration seems to be going out of it's make sure it's a slaughter.

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