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July 12, 2005

Yglesias Comments on Thin Support for CAFTA

Matthew Yglesias comments on the thin support for CAFTA:

TPMCafe || Who Killed Free Trade?: By Matthew Yglesias: I think my American Prospect colleague Harold Meyerson (who, conveniently, isn't around to help out...) is wrong to attribute Democratic opposition to CAFTA primarily to the success of AFL-CIO lobbying efforts. The AFL-CIO is an important voice on these issues, of course, but the decisive actor here has been George W. Bush.

First, Bush decided to let the pharmaceutical and media industries run amok and produce an agreement that is much more important as an intellectual property deal than as a trade deal.

Second, he froze the traditional leaders of the pro-trade faction of House Democrats out of the negotiations.

Third -- and most crucially -- he gutted the traditional Trade Adjustment Assistance provisions of the package even though the House New Dem caucus specifically told him that this would cost him their votes.

The basic picture is that having killed the Doha Round of the WTO with his farm subsidies, Bush had lost about all his free trade street cred. As a result, he wanted to create a situation where the Democrats would look even less interested in promoting the free exchange of goods in the eyes of the business community. Hence, he put together a deal that's pretty trivial as a substantive matter (we're talking about tiny economies) but was specifically designed to get as few Democratic votes as possible.

In a way, this is a strange -- indeed, unique -- instance of the Bush White House and the AFL-CIO working hand in hand to kill off the free trade Democrats.

Posted by DeLong at July 12, 2005 03:12 PM