CAFTA Battle Rages in Congress: The Central American Free Trade Agreement Would Not Only Destroy More U.S. Jobs and Businesses, but Undermine Our Sovereignty
Jasper, William F., The New American
Caving in to White House threats and bribes, the Senate approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) on June 30, by a vote of 54 to 45.
Deaf to the appeals of farmers, manufacturers, and workers who have been devastated by previous trade agreements, and indifferent to the growing danger these pacts pose to U.S. sovereignty, President Bush pulled out all stops in a major effort to ram CAFTA through the Senate before the July 4 recess.
The Senate vote, hailed as a major victory for the president, came after months of bitter wrangling and several vote postponements. However, the relatively narrow margin of victory--one of the slimmest ever for a trade agreement--is a testament to the growing disenchantment with so-called free trade and globalization.
On the same day that it passed the Senate, CAFTA also was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee by a vote of 24 to 11, setting the pact up for a floor vote in the full House after Congress returns from recess on July 11. The House fight, which is expected to be even closer and more hard-fought than the Senate battle, is seen by most analysts as too close to call.
The Central American Free Trade Agreement proposes to expand NAFTA (the decade-old North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada) to include Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The Bush administration has been clear that it sees CAFTA approval as essential to building momentum for approval of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which would include all the nations of our Western Hemisphere.
Most media accounts of the congressional CAFTA fracas give the false impression that the only significant opposition to the agreement comes from domestic sugar producers fearing an avalanche of cheap sugar from the Caribbean and Central America. The sugar beet lobby, a major source of campaign funds for both Republicans and Democrats, has indeed presented formidable resistance to CAFTA, pointing out that massive sugar imports would jeopardize more than 300,000 jobs in 19 states. However, an even larger number of textile jobs are at stake, as well as hundreds of thousands of other agriculture, manufacturing, and service jobs.
The Bush administration wielded both the carrot and the stick to overcome this growing opposition and whip senators into the CAFTA corral. As the New York Times reported on July 1, "[A]fter intense negotiations between White House officials and leading lawmakers, wavering Republicans settled for modest extra protections and heeded veiled warnings about reprisals to those who balked." The Times continued: "To placate sugar producers, White House officials agreed to limit imports for another two years by paying Central American producers not to export to the United States. The United States would pay with surplus farm products accumulated through its other subsidy programs."
Backing From Corporate One-worlders
The Bush White House and its pro-CAFTA contingent in Congress have received indispensable support in the push for CAFTA from the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other industry groups dominated by corporate globalists associated with the Council on Foreign Relations. AT&T, the Bechtel Group, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, IBM, Tyson Foods, and Xerox are but a few of the corporate heavyweights propelling the CAFFA bandwagon. Employing deceptive rhetoric laced with false appeals to "free market" and "free trade" principles, they have lured many Republicans and conservatives into supporting trade pacts that amount to major subsidies by U.S. taxpayers and consumers for the participating corporations and foreign governments.
Lined up against this imposing pro-CAFTA corporate lobbying force are a relatively few large companies that do not want to move their operations out of the U. …