The Central American Free Trade Agreement passed early this morning by a one-vote margin. One of the swing yes votes? Democrat Melissa Bean. What a downer. What's the point of electing Democrats if they protect Republican incumbents on the toughest vote of the year? Bad advice, in my view, to vote yes. Sure, the Tribune came down hard on her, but I don't think the district would have turned on her because of CAFTA.
I heard an NPR report on Marketplace yesterday and it was absolutey atrocious. Here was the storyline:
First, a Democratic Congressman (I think it was Carl Levin) articulated the opposition to CAFTA based on the lack of any significant worker rights in the Central American nations, and the inevitable pressure to lower wages with this agreement.
Then an economist said he was lying. Lying! He said that when Democrats say they oppose CAFTA because of downward pressure on wages, their noses grow.
Then the Democratic Leadership Council guy came on and said that Big Labor was lobbying hard for this agreement, and old-fashioned protectionism is the real reason why some unfortuate Democrats were still stuck in the past and voting against trade agreements.
Finally, the commentator for Marketplace simply suggested that the Democrats support for labor could come at a political price as Big Business is keeping track of who is against this agreement and will settle the score at the next election.
They basically said that Democrats who oppose the agreement were lying, out-of-touch, about-to-lose-their-next-election weasels.
And they say that NPR has a left-wing bias?
Finally, Senator Sandoval is the Chair of the Commerce and Economic Development meeting, and the Committee is holding a subject matter only hearing on CAFTA this Monday from 10 am to 1 pm for a discussion and debate on the role of trade agreements on the Illinois economy. The hearing is an opportunity to discuss ways to improve future trade agreements and opportunities that the CAFTA presents. The public is invited to participate and the posting is here.