Thursday, February 28, 2008

The NAFTA Issue: Sound and Fury, etc.

The ink spilled on the NAFTA issue in the Ohio primary is reaching tidal wave proportions. The latest episode has been a Canadian TV report alleging that an Obama aide let Canada know he was just kidding when criticizing NAFTA, followed by the reports refuting it.

Now come to find, it may not matter. Buried in a Washington Wire post about bipartisan cooperation in Congress is this bit:

    “I’m not a fan of renegotiating trade agreements,” said Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, and Reps. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, Steve Israel of New York, and Rob Andrews of New Jersey agreed, suggesting that re-opening Nafta would like be a nonstarter in Congress if Democrats maintain control of the chamber this fall. “We’re not running for president,” explained Emanuel, a former Clinton administration aide, on the difference of opinion.
Plenty of members from either side may think that, but when a charter member Clintonista like Emmanel fails to line up behind Hillary, it's hard to discount the threat. It may well be that the President has the discretion to end NAFTA, but he/she will need Congress to get on board a renegotiation.


Modern Esquire said...

I'm not sure you can read it that way. At best, all it says is that Congress isn't calmoring to re-open NAFTA. But the President doesn't need congressional authority to renegotiate treaties, she or he only needs to ratify those new treaties.

If a President Clinton or Obama obtained a reformed NAFTA where Mexico has to have higher environmental and labor standards to keep labor competition between the two counties more reasonable, do you honestly think the Congress isn't going to jump to ratify it?

TBMD said...

Well, I can't imagine that the Canadians would admit to directly hearing from the Obama campaign that this was just campaign blather for the stupid hicks from the Ohio sticks. They don't want to be a centerpiece of anybody's campaign, and certainly don't want to cheese off the frontrunner.

Reopening NAFTA also assumes that the Mexicans and Canadians don't have things they would like to change as well, and essentially changing the terms to force additional costs onto those countries will likely lead to retailiation, trade wars, and contribute greatly to a recession.