Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dissenting Opinion by Readership, Regarding COHA's Piece, "Testing Time For Obama's Colombia Free Trade Agreement"

The Colombia Free Trade Agreement. In the first paragraph of Ms. Knoth's article on
US/Colombia free trade, she asserts that, in the final presidential debate in 2008, " Obamavoiced his disapproval of the FTA,stating that continued violence in Colombia and the
treaty’s insufficient human rights protections should slow the agreement’s passage, perhaps

In fact, Obama did something starkly different. He criticized Colombia for its failure to
protect labor organizers; and then he implicitly but unmistakably endorsed the treaty, noting that it does include labor and environmental protections. His sole stated concern was that the
protections be properly enforced. But even the most fevered ideologue must realize
that, in the context of Obama's statement, he means that they should be enforced within
the terms of the treaty; that is to say, he assumes its passage, not its indefinite postpone-ment.

Further, contra Ms. Knoth's assertion, he never mentions "go(ing) slow".

As well, he gratuitously mentions that he voted in favor of the US/Peru free trade treaty. It is
impossible (well, I'd have thought so until now) to read the words without recognizing that
Obama ran, at least on the occasion cited by Ms. Knoth,as fully opposed to the
COHA/Smoot-Hawley stance on international trade.

I go on regarding the subject at such length as a prelude to asking one question: If your commentators cannot comprehend the
clear facts in a 400-word text, what are they doing writing 2600 word "analyses" of public policy issues?

Here is the entire text of the Obama-McCain debate as it relates to the pending free trade treaty between the US and Colombia:
MCCAIN: Well, you know, I admire so much Senator Obama's eloquence. And you really have to pay attention to words. He
said, we will look at offshore drilling. Did you get that Look at. We can offshore drill now. We've got to do it now. We will reduce the cost of a barrel of oil because we show the
world that we have a supply of our own. It's doable. The technology is there and we have to drill now.
Now, on the subject of free trade agreements. I am a free trader. And I need -- we need to have education and training programs for displaced workers that work, going to our community colleges.

But let me give you another example of a free trade agreement that Senator Obama opposes. Right now, because of
previous agreements, some made by President Clinton, the goods and products that we send to Colombia, which is our
largest agricultural importer of our products, is -- there's a billion dollars that we --our businesses have paid so far in order to get our goods in there.

Because of previous agreements, their goods and products come into our country for free. So Senator Obama, who has
never traveled south of our border, opposes the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. The same country that's helping us try to
stop the flow of drugs into our country that's killing young Americans.

And also the country that just freed three Americans that will help us create jobs in America because they will be a market
for our goods and products without having to pay -- without us having to pay the billions of dollars --the billion dollars and more that we've already paid.

Free trade with Colombia is something that's a no-brainer. But maybe you ought to travel down there and visit them and maybe you could understand it a lot better.

OBAMA: Let me respond. Actually, I understand it pretty well. The history in Colombia right now is that labor leaders
have been targeted for assassination on a fairly consistent basis and there have not been prosecutions.

And what I have said, because the free trade -- the trade agreement itself does have labor and environmental protections, but we have to stand for human rights and
we have to make sure that violence isn't being perpetrated against workers who are just trying to organize for their rights,
which is why, for example, I supported the Peruvian Free Trade Agreement which was a well-structured agreement.

But I think that the important point is we've got to have a president who understands the benefits of free trade but also is
going to enforce unfair trade agreements and is going to stand up to other countries.

And the last point I'll make, because we started on energy. When I talked about the automakers, they are obviously getting
hammered right now. They were already having a tough time because of high gas prices. And now with the financial crisis,
car dealerships are closing and people can't get car loans.

That's why I think it's important for us to get loan guarantees to the automakers, but we do have to hold them responsible as well to start producing the highly fuel-efficient cars of the future.

And Detroit had dragged its feet too long in terms of getting that done. It's going to be one of my highest priorities because
transportation accounts for about 30 percent of our total energy consumption.

If we can get that right, then we can move in a direction not only of energy independence, but we can create 5 million new
jobs all across America, including in the heartland where we can retool some of these plants to make these highly fuel-efficient cars and also to make wind turbines and solar panels, the kinds of clean energy approaches that should be the
driver of our economy for the next century.

MCCAIN: Well, let me just said that that this is -- he -- Senator Obama doesn't want a free trade agreement with our best ally in the region but wants to sit down across the table
without precondition to -- with Hugo Chavez, the guy who has been helping FARC, the terrorist organization.

Free trade between ourselves and Colombia, I just recited to you the benefits of concluding that agreement, a billion dollars
of American dollars that could have gone to creating jobs and businesses in the United States, opening up those markets.

So I don't -- I don't think there's any doubt that Senator Obama wants to restrict trade and he wants to raise taxes. And the last
president of the United States that tried that was Herbert Hoover, and we went from a deep recession into a depression.

We're not going to follow that path while I'm -- when I'm president of the United States.