While You Were Out...
Congress and the president sign a free trade agreement that benefits big business and hurts jobs -- while the nation is busy protesting.
What better time to rush some bills through Congress that favor your corporate pals then when everybody's out protesting, focusing on pepper-spray cures and dodging tear-gas canisters?
Two weeks ago, Congress approved a free-trade agreement with Columbia, Panama, and South Korea, touting it as a boon to jobs and the economy:
"We don't do much around here that's bipartisan these days," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who was U.S. Trade Representative during the George W. Bush administration. "This is an example of where we can come together as Republicans and Democrats realizing that with 14 million Americans out of work, we need to do things to move our economy forward."
It's true there isn't much both parties agree on, but when they do, it's usually on something that benefits their benefactors. And I don't mean ordinary working Americans. To wit:
- Free trade mavens have always wrongly predicted job and economic growth (pdf) before signing agreements -- using historical effects of free-trade agreements shows the U.S. is likely to losebetween 100,000 and 200,000 jobs by 2015 because of the Korea/Panama/Columbia trade deal.
- US corporations are no doubt salivating over Panama's status as a pre-eminent tax haven; our free-trade agreement now removes many barriers to big businesses setting up "subsidiaries" in that country to avoid paying taxes in the United States, and almost any taxes at all.
- In Columbia, government-sponsored and corporate-abetted death squads kill labor leaders with impunity -- 15 labor organizers alone have been killed since the spring of this year. No wonder corporations like GE, Catipiller, and Wal-Mart were salivating for an agreement that included Columbia.