Democrats & Liberals Archives

Secret Trade Deals

Newspapers tell us that House Democrats and Bush have come up with a deal about trade. Newspapers across the country jubilantly declare that Democratic concerns about worker and environment protection will be included in pending and future trade deals. If this is so why are leaders reluctant to give details? Why the secrecy?

Here is what the New York Times said on May 11:

The Bush administration reached agreement on Thursday with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and other Democrats to attach environmental and worker protections in several pending trade accords, clearing the way for early passage of some pacts and improving prospects for others.

The unusual agreement, which came after weeks of negotiations, would guarantee workers the right to organize, ban child labor and prohibit forced labor in trading-partner countries. It would also require trading partners to enforce environmental laws already on their books and comply with several international environmental agreements.

Pretty straightforward. But do not cheer yet:

Six days after the press conference announcing a secret free trade deal between Democratic congressional leaders and the Bush White House, a full-scale revolt appears to be brewing on Capitol Hill. Rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers have demanded an immediate debate about the deal, and Democratic leaders have responded by rejecting such a request.

Why the rejection? Why would not Democratic leaders talk to Democratic lawmakers? It makes no sense. Until you read the rest of the paragraph:

A top Democratic senator says K Street is receiving a “wink and nod” from the White House that the final legislative language - which has not been made public - will allow the Bush administration to avoid enforcing any of the much-touted standards in the deal. GOP leaders, meanwhile, are signaling that the deal will not be incorporated into the core text of trade agreements at all. And, of course, almost every news outlet has refused to report that top K Street lobbyists have said they have received “assurances” that the deal’s provisions on labor and the environment will be unenforceable.
I have no idea what is happening, but it does not look good. Either Democrats get ironclad guarantees that worker and environmental protection will be included in the pending trade deals or Democrats must kill the so-called "free" trade deals - even if a Senate filibuster is necessary to do so.

And I think Democrats should never agree to fast track deals with the Bush Administration. Bush cannot be trusted. NO FAST TRACK!

Posted by Paul Siegel at May 17, 2007 10:00 AM
Comment #220640
I have no idea what is happening, but it does not look good.

Business as usual is going on. And NO! it’s not good.
And y’all thought that a Democrat Congress would make things better.
And NO, I don’t hate saying it.
I TOLD Y’ALL SO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Ron Brown at May 17, 2007 12:29 PM
Comment #220649

Paul, I commented on this a couple days ago in another thread. There are two Central and S. American countries with whom a deal was struck, which DID NOT included but one of Democrats demands for protections for American workers, environment, and small businesses.

The secrecy is to hide the fact that the Dem. Leadership struck a deal with the White House that if this deal could go through without protections, the White House would be more amenable to negotiation and inclusions of American protections in future trade deals.

In other words, the Dem. Leadership doesn’t want the public to know they sold out on this current trade deal. Capitulation to the White House after all, is not what voters voted Democrats into the majority of Congress for, or, so says the rest of the Democrats now raising a clamor.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 17, 2007 1:34 PM
Comment #220699

Paul Siegel- I am totally disappointed in Nancy
Pelosi an the rest of the Democrats who seem to be
up to the same old tricks that some of the Republicans have pulled on the Voters. I would think
the people in California would re-call Pelosi,if
they have a re-call law in that state. We must let
these folks know, We have had it, with conniving an
deceitful behaviour!

Posted by: DAVID at May 18, 2007 1:04 AM
Comment #220855

Got to wait and see. Rangel is pretty tough. There is also a faction of labor that does not want any trade deals. Not gonna happen. Industrial countries either have trade deals or colonies,one or the other.I am sure whatever enviormental and labor protections included will just be ignored by this administartion as they ignore labor and enviornmental law here. They will not be around forever(pray) and the next one should inherit a blueprint for trade deals that protect people and the world.NO FAST TRACK!
Re. Pelosis seat. She is very popular in her district,polling somewhere around 80%.If she was convicted of mass murder she might,just might lose an election there.This is one of the reasons she is a strong leader. The Reps cannot get at her on the home front.

Ron Brown
The jury is still out.

Posted by: BillS at May 19, 2007 8:13 PM
Comment #220890

BillS- I just find these treaties that take jobs an
money from America under the pretence of, were are
doing it for America, while most people believe what
these Politicians tell them. Even after the Treaty
plainly states that there is no way our Government
will enforce these treaties.

Maybe someone could explain why this should be
allowed to go forward.

Posted by: DAVID at May 20, 2007 2:12 AM
Comment #220928


Fair trade makes some sense. I mean FAIR trade. Some of the reasons for it are to help developing economies prosper.By increasing opportunities in the developing world can provide stability and open markets to US goods. This is beneficial only if the people of these economies proper as well as the wealthy elites. It is not what we have been getting for the most part. We have cut deals that not only undercut American workers but have actually made the lives of forign workers worse.Nike makes shoes in Vietnam.They moved there from S.Korea when Korean workers wanted more money. There is a new phrase in Vietnamese that means “to nike”someone.To hit them with a shoe as punishment for not working fast enough.It cost about 5-6 dollars a pair for Nike to make shoes,ship,advertize a pair of shoes.What do the sell for here?$50-60 a pair. There is plenty of room in that margin for them pay a bit more and treat their workers better. They won’t because they do not have too.WE could make them and all the other similar companies do the same. If you do not treat your workers fairly,allow collective bargainning ,use no slaves or children we will not do business with you.
That is why what Paul suspects is so disturbing. I hope he is jumping the gun and some real labor protections with real enforcement provisions are comming.Perhaps they are. The Whitehouse telling K-street not to worry means little. This Whitehouse lies all the time to everybody.
There are also those that believe that the only way for America to be competitive is for American workers to sink to third world levels. They do not want collective bargainning here let alone overseas. They see no problem with child labor and are willing to overlook slavery. Of course these are wealthy individuals who probably have never done an honest days work.Even if they are right there is certainly no reason to rush into it. Fortunately they are wrong.

Posted by: BillS at May 20, 2007 7:41 PM
Comment #220947

BillS- Right on the money, Thanks for your post.

Posted by: DAVID at May 21, 2007 2:38 AM
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