Saturday, March 01, 2008

Obama's Mendacity on NAFTA

It is fun to watch Barack Obama's contortions over NAFTA.  In the Ohio debate, he talks about how is is going to scuttle the deal unless "environmental and labor standards" are changed (newspeak for forcing Mexico to lose it's competitive advantage by imposing Scandinavian union and environmental laws).  He repeats during the Cleveland State debate how he is going to "unilaterally" pull out of NAFTA unless these changes are made.
Of course, it is then reported on CTV (Canadian Television Network) that a "senior Barack Obama campaign staffer" went to the Canadian consulate in Chicago to assure them that Barack's rhetoric is merely political and he has no intention of repudiating the treaty should he become president.
Let's look at all the inconsistencies on Barack's NAFTA bromides so far:
  1. He is looking like a typical left-wing demagogue with language on this.  Not very presidential.  The back channel reassurances to the Canadian government illustrate that Obama is just a hypocritical as any other Democrat on trade.
  2. The Democratic party has gone bezerk the last 7 1/2 years decrying the "Bush unilateralism" on the ABM treaty, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.   At least we can say that  such unilateralism was in the sphere of what some would call America's security interests.  Instead, the Democratic presidential contenders would unilaterally  scuttle trade agreements it has with its neighbors.  So it appears that the Democrats want to be nice to Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea; but will jerk around Canada and Mexico.
  3. Obama's contradictory stands on Mexico.   Obama has said the best way to stop illegal immigration from Mexico into the United States is to develop the Mexican economy so that the economic incentives to illegally cross the border are gone.  This is a very sensible point.  However, when you then turn around and threaten to kill the trade deal that has created hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs in Mexico.  Just imagine the torrent of illegals migrating Northbound if that happened.
  4. The United States, both economically and politically, has a weak hand to force any changes.  With oil north of $100 a barrel, the dollar tanking with no end in sight, and the economy weakening, what are we going to get if Obama did open up negotiations with Canada and Mexico.   Mexico could turn around and say that they will sell their oil elsewhere.  They could also really turn a blind eye to drug and human smuggling across the border.   The Canadian government could pull the preferential treatment of oil exports to the U.S.  (Canada is the largest supplier of oil to the U.S., Mexico is second - so you can see the weak hand the U.S. would have).  Canada would also want to reverse the softwood lumber tariffs, put restrictions on water and oil exports to the U.S., etc.   Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already made that point.  

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