This Wall Street Journal Editorial describes Nancy Pelosi's double-cross on the Colombian free trade agreement and her infantile understanding of foreign policy.
REVIEW & OUTLOOK
Pelosi's Bad Faith
April 10, 2008; Page A14
The Democratic Party's protectionist make-over was completed yesterday, when Nancy Pelosi decided to kill the Colombia free trade agreement. Her objections had nothing to do with the evidence and everything to do with politics, but this was an act of particular bad faith. It will damage the economic and security interests of the U.S. while trashing our best ally in Latin America.
The Colombia trade pact was signed in 2006 and renegotiated last year to accommodate Democratic demands for tougher labor and environmental standards. Even after more than 250 consultations with Democrats, and further concessions, including promises to spend more on domestic unemployment insurance, the deal remained stalled in Congress. Apparently the problem was that Democrats kept getting their way.
So on Monday, President Bush submitted the bill to Congress over liberal protests, which, under a bargain between Congress and the White House for trade promotion authority, mandated an up-or-down vote within 90 days. Today Ms. Pelosi will make an ex post facto change to House rules to avoid the required vote, withdrawing from the timetable and thus relegating the Colombia deal to a perhaps permanent limbo.
Yesterday Ms. Pelosi said the bill would harm "the economic concerns of America's working families." Yet over 90% of Colombian imports enter the U.S. duty-free, while the agreement would open the Colombian market to American goods that face tariffs as high as 35%.
Even if the free trade agreement is somehow removed from cold storage, Ms. Pelosi's cheating is a first-order strategic blunder. Colombia is one of America's closest friends in a hostile region menaced by Hugo Chávez's Venezuela. For all the talk of repairing the U.S. "image" in the world, the Democrats don't really mind harming that image if it pleases the AFL-CIO.
- The US has very few tariffs on imports, so most free trade agmts are focused on reducing tariffs on US exports to other countries or improving the efficiency of trade.
- The Wall Street Journal Editorial board makes the mistake in assuming that Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats, and their supporters share their views on Presidente Chavez.
ARC: St Wendeler