Colombia Trade Smack Down in Congress

For a moment there, I was beginning to like that our lame duck President was being trumped in the news due to the wrangling between the politicians who want to take over his job in January.

But, no, it doesn’t seem like President Bush is going out on a whimper.

From The Wall Street Journal

President Bush on Monday formally asked Congress to approve the [Colombia trade] pact, giving the Democratic-controlled Congress 90 legislative days to approve or reject it. The move puts the trade issue squarely in front of the Democrats at a time when trade has been greeted skeptically by voters. Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have said they oppose the pact.

So, let’s review the presidential candidates’ score cards on this controversial trade initiative with Colombia. John McCain is obviously in the tank with the Republicans and big business. On the other side of the aisle, recently departed Clintonista Mark Penn resigned his position in the Hillary camp due to a big conflict of interest – advising Senator Clinton on how to reject the trade pact while his public relations firm is helping the Colombian government support the pact. Sen. Clinton has tried to spend the last few months distancing herself from NAFTA, the world’s largest free trade agreement her husband signed when he was in office. Barack Obama, like Clinton, says that he also opposes the pact. Although his position is weak on the topic because he, too, had an advisor resign from his campaign recently for doing double talk on NAFTA with Canada. Ralph Nader (yes, he is still running for president) is the only candidate with a staunch anti-free trade position, but since he has no chance of winning the election, why bother talking about him.

One can argue that Bush’s move to fast-track this bill is a realization that there is nothing good to say about his legacy, and he wants to say he did something significant(even if it’s not good) during his tenure. But I think he is really doing this to influence the November election. Bush is trying to place the Democrats between a rock and a hard place. If the Democrats vote for the pact, they will in effect be standing against their base – trade unionists and human rights activists. On the other hand, if they don’t vote for it they will lose momentum with the surge of businesses taking a sudden liking to the Democrats, and the White House will make them look like sour heads for letting the pact die.

Let’s get it on!

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At Wednesday, April 09, 2008 9:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only people who are worried about the Colombia pact not passing really are the South Koreans.

Look at the NYT from yesterday



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