Some key labor leaders in Washington are saying the US can’t afford another trade agreement modeled on the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Hopefully, they fully realize that this NAFTA accord has cursed the economy over the 20 years of its existence. Jobs have been either its chief export or its main casualty. US-based corporations have shut down their American manufacturing in order to “farm out” the labor to cheap foreign labor markets. This enormous savings on labor has become record levels of compensation and bonuses for CEOs leveraging the NAFTA system. Meanwhile, US import tariffs are relaxed to near-oblivion.
The resulting flood of foreign-made goods enters the US market with barely any revenue attached to offset the fact that the U.S. tax base has been reduced with factory closures. The imported goods are sold at greatly-reduced retail prices. This often undercuts whatever US-made products remain on store shelves. At the same time, the laying off of manufacturing workers and related jobs reduces the purchasing power of US consumers. All of the foregoing is rarely explained in the vast majority of US news reports, yet it needs strong emphasis now more than ever. That’s because the Obama administration now is pursuing a lofty international trade agenda. Two more “NAFTAs,” even larger than the original pact between the US, Canada and Mexico, are on tap.
The Washington newspaper Roll Call noted: “The Obama administration has been courting labor unions — long the strongest supporters of the president but also perhaps the strongest skeptics of expanded free trade.”
The White House wants more free trade but doesn’t want to anger the working class and reduce voter turnout in the midterm elections. Due to this touchy trade agenda, Democrats could lose control of the Senate. It’d be better to keep the Democrats in charge of the upper chamber, lest the budget leaders in Congress chisel Medicare and Social Security to the bone. At stake are two trade pacts: the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the even lesser-known Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
The Trans-Pacific pact, in terms of land area, would the world’s largest-ever trade deal, involving about a dozen nations, from Australia and New Zealand to South America. The Transatlantic trade scheme is the same US-European Union pact that’s being heralded by global schemers that want their brand of world capitalism to rule the globe.
For example, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the Chicago Council on Global Affairs last fall that he wants to see such a trade deal enacted. Furthermore, the Washington think tank, the Brookings Institution, strongly supports a US-EU trade agreement, as does the Business Roundtable. But the latest twist is that an obscure outfit—the European Union Delegation to the United States—maintains a K Street office in Washington and is working overtime for the US-EU trade pact. Unbeknownst to most Americans, this “eurocracy” is moving ahead full bore with its program “EU in the US.” The goal is to soften up American business and academic communities, as well as state and municipal officials, to accept free-trade deals modeled on the NAFTA template.
World Affairs Councils (WACs) which operate under the umbrella of the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA) are hosting EU in the US programs. The World Affairs Council of Las Vegas will hold such a program April 28, while additional EU in the US programs are planned for May 1 by WACs in Peoria, Ill., and Austin, Texas. The Greater Cincinnati WAC will hold such a program May 2. Other WACs plan nine more EU in the US programs across the nation through May. Under WACA’s umbrella, there are 92 local and regional WAC chapters to keep the world safe for supra-nationalism and the rigged species of capitalism that keeps the rich, rich and the poor, poor.
The central question for big labor is whether their professed support for the working man will eclipse their traditional love for the Democrat Party—now that President Obama wants two trade deals that could harm workers. But the question for all Americans is whether they’ve learned enough from 20 tortuous years of NAFTA to demand that Congress says NO to the pending Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic deals—and, like Switzerland, stay independent of the EU.
Mark Anderson is a veteran journalist who divides his time between Texas and Michigan. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From The Progressive Populist, May 15, 2014
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