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February 01, 2005

CAFTA Trade Deal Show Down

Some are comparing Bush's social security reform campaign to Clinton's health care fight, the implication being his administration could founder on the issue. But to make the analogy complete, he'd have to alienate his own party over a trade deal.

Enter CAFTA.

The GOP is hemmoraging votes on the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) from states with textile and sugar jobs. Unless they can corral enough Democrats, the bill looks to go down in flames:

Former U.S. Rep. Cal Dooley, D-Calif., a strong advocate of free trade and now president of the National Food Processors Association...said the House leadership cannot expect to pass CAFTA with Republican votes alone, although the GOP now holds a 232-203 advantage.

"I don't think the Republicans are going be able to put together 218 votes that would assure the passage of CAFTA with the erosion of support they will see because of textile support and sugar," he said.

And if CAFTA goes down, that probably puts a nail in the coffin of the broader FTAA.

Just as Clinton left office, he had negotiated trade deals with Jordan, including labor provisions, that enlisted broad labor and industry support. Bush chose to jettison real labor provisions in CAFTA and so he's now almost completely dependent on GOP votes for support of his trade agenda. It would be sweet justice to see Bush's trade agenda savaged by rebellion in his own party.

Posted by Nathan at February 1, 2005 06:07 PM