Corporate Dems look to ram through “new NAFTA”
Contrary to what some may be claiming, this pretty much bites. “Not quite as bad as the old NAFTA” is not the same as “good.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at her weekly press conference (November 14) that a deal on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was “imminent,” and that it would serve as a template for future trade deals. Without seeing the final agreement, which has been subject to haggling between House Democrats and the U.S. trade representative’s (USTR) office, it’s hard to say whether that prospect is cheering. But it’s clear that whatever agreement gets reached will have been driven by politics rather than substance.
The clamor among freshman swing-seat Democrats to put USMCA up for a vote has reached epidemic proportions. And the rationale has nothing to do with raising labor standards for Mexican workers or improving our manufacturing competitiveness, or farm exports. It’s just, bluntly, “We need to show that we can do something.” That’s a direct quote from Henry Cuellar (D-TX), one of the 11 centrist Democrats who signed a letter to USTR undermining the Democratic position to remove rigid patent protections for high-cost prescription drugs…
The tell here is that the members engaged in the actual House Democrats’ negotiating with USTR are “less than confident” about an imminent deal.
(The American Prospect)
That last paragraph is somewhat heartening, anyway. Those of us who pay attention to this sort of thing have noted that the glorious USMCA, aka “new NAFTA,” has purportedly been on the verge of passage for a long time now.
The adjective “glorious” is total sarcasm and mockery. As noted above, negotiations have been ongoing. But I’ve seen absolutely nothing to indicate that fundamental criticisms, like those noted in the following, don’t remain entirely valid.
AFL-CIO President Trumka has said, “We are working to try to get an agreement worthy of the American economy and the American worker.” Such an agreement, however, should prohibit investment decisions that increase poverty across North America, rather than accepting poverty and displacement as unfortunate byproducts of trade. It could mandate works councils to give unions power over company investment decisions, guarantee labor rights across borders, and even demilitarize the US-Mexico border itself.
Instead of tinkering with a new NAFTA, congressional left-wingers should put an agreement like this on the table, and unions should step up concrete action to defend workers’ rights in both countries. Solidarity with unions fighting in Mexico is a much more effective strategy than pressuring Trump trade negotiators.
The fact remains that workers in this country have a common interest with workers south of the border. NAFTA 2.0 will not improve their lives and does not deserve working-class support.
This has a lot more about the politics of the whole thing:
The push represents a remarkable gamble: that it is worth undermining key constituencies by signing a subpar agreement on the chance that it could help a handful of Democrats in swing districts win reelection. In addition, the assessment itself is questionable; if a voter is angry that a Democrat voted to impeach Trump, it’s difficult to see how that anger would be lessened by learning that the representative also voted for Trump’s trade deal. Endorsing bad Republican policy for uncertain political gain may be a hallmark of Democratic centrism, but supporting Trump’s unrevised trade deal is an unusually extreme example.
Rank-and-file House Democrats are worried that the poorly negotiated deal would lock in lower wages, environmental destruction, and higher drug prices for decades. USMCA is a renegotiated version of NAFTA, but only goes into effect if and when it is approved by Congress. The legislative branch is negotiating changes to the deal that would then need to be agreed to by Canada and Mexico. Without a new agreement, the old NAFTA remains in effect indefinitely.
Corporate Dems sense that impeachment provides a good, distracting cover for doing this, per instructions from their greedhead bosses. And based on the best indicator – how recent elections have been going – 2020 will be a strong year for Democrats, with little for swing-district Dems to worry about – with, of course, all the usual caveats about taking nothing for granted, etc. And unless purblind elected Democrats screw it all up with shit like new NAFTA.
Comment from Mac Hall: ICYMI Pelosi Statement on Progress on USMCA here as they kick it back to Trade Representative Lighthizer
FYI Democrats Richard Neal, Suzan DelBene, Brendan Boyle and Republican Rep. Drew Ferguson were in Canada earlier this month trying to iron out concerns … including Canadian concerns of auto job losses to Mexico.
Let’s be honest … this is a bad deal that is being hyped by Trump and the Republicans … I say, since the current one remains in effect, let’s let the next President negotiate a GREAT NAFTA 3.0
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