NAFTA makes people poor. Barack Obama secretly supports NAFTA. Therefore Barack Obama hates poor people. Incidentally since NAFTA makes people poor you will be poor. Therefore Barack Obama hates you!
Updated at bottom
Why I'm not working for John McCain or Hilary Clinton I will never know.
Last week I posted about Barack Obama just pulling stuff out of his ass and no one calling him on it. Well he has apparently been pulling the same type of thing, for simplicities sake let's just call it lying, about NAFTA. This time however CTV, Canada's largest private TV network caught him:
The Obama campaign denies the contact as does the Canadian government, but CTV stands by their story.
And these aren't the only questions arising about Obama'z position on NAFTA.
Matt Gonzales, the former President of the San Fransisco Board of Supervisors, and Green Party candidate for Mayor has stated that he won't support Obama in part because of his support for NAFTA:
Regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement, Obama recently boasted, “I don’t think NAFTA has been good for Americans, and I never have.” Yet, Calvin Woodward reviewed Obama’s record on NAFTA in a February 26, 2008 Associated Press article and found that comment to be misleading: “In his 2004 Senate campaign, Obama said the US should pursue more deals such as NAFTA, and argued more broadly that his opponent's call for tariffs would spark a trade war. AP reported then that the Illinois senator had spoken of enormous benefits having accrued to his state from NAFTA, while adding that he also called for more aggressive trade protections for US workers.”
Putting aside campaign rhetoric, when actually given an opportunity to protect workers from unfair trade agreements, Obama cast the deciding vote against an amendment to a September 2005 Commerce Appropriations Bill, proposed by North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, that would have prohibited US trade negotiators from weakening US laws that provide safeguards from unfair foreign trade practices. The bill would have been a vital tool to combat the outsourcing of jobs to foreign workers and would have ended a common corporate practice known as “pole-vaulting” over regulations, which allows companies doing foreign business to avoid “right to organize,” “minimum wage,” and other worker protections.
Gonzales goes on to say that Obama has a habit of telling audiences what they want to hear.
The Financial Times notes that until recently (as is about a week and a half ago) Obama's economic policy was the most centrist of the Democrat candidates, that changed when;
a. The primaries focus shifted to Ohio and Texas and;
b. He received the endorsement of the Teamsters.
Since Super Tuesday on February 5, that has changed. Scenting, perhaps, the chance of settling the nomination next week (when Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont go to the polls), Mr Obama has indulged in a bidding war with Hillary Clinton to see who can rail most strongly against globalisation.
Campaign veterans say much of the rhetoric can be discounted as classic primary season politicking that will be diluted when it comes to the general election. But sympathetic economists have expressed concern about proposals Mr Obama has unveiled in the past two weeks since campaigning began in earnest to woo the workers of Ohio.
Last week Mr Obama came out against “open trucking” with Mexico in which freight lorries would drive across the border instead of unloading on to American trucks. His new stance coincided with the endorsement of the Teamsters union, which is opposed to competition in road freight.
“Threatening to repudiate international agreements would have serious foreign policy consequences which would undermine Mr Obama’s broader foreign policy goals,” says Susan Aaronson, professor at George Washington university and a former adviser to Bill Richardson, who dropped out of the race in January. “Some of this may be normal pandering for the primaries. But it has gone much further than expected.”
Mr Obama’s proposal to levy lower corporate tax on companies that reverse the offshoring of jobs has caused disquiet. “Patriot employers” was unveiled when Mr Obama had already become the favourite to secure the nomination. Some say it is unworkable.
“It just isn’t clear why the Obama campaign felt the need to bring this out now,” one Democratic economist says. “It might have political merits in the primaries but there are many more effective and less bureaucratic ways than this to incentivise the creation of new jobs.”
And there you have it - Obama doesn't really feel NAFTA is bad, but it's a convenient whipping boy, and he will whip it as hard as he can into the White House whether he means it or not and whether the proposals he floats to support his current position are workable or not.
The sad thing is that most of the extreme rhetoric is unnecessary. No one is opposed to bringing jobs back onshore and creating new ones. The easiest way is to just allow corporations to write off the difference in cost between outsourcing and keeping the jobs here. That provision could be sunsetted and a penalty (say retroactive taxes) applied if the jobs are moved back offshore within a certain time frame. We could also bring our corporate tax rates in line with the rest of the world and create freezones in economic dead areas in which no corporate taxes applied. Companies would have to apply to set up shop there.
Of course none of this will happen but it's nice to dream.
How to Win Friends and Influence People - Blame Them For All Your Problems
Obama's Blue Eagle Act (Patriot Employer Act of 2007)
ABC Fact Checks Obama's Army Story
The Democratic Debate
More on Obama's Economic Platform
Barack Obama's Economic Plan
Becky is also blogging about this.
Updated: 29 Feb 2008 0557
CTV Follow up
The Obama campaign told CTV late Thursday night that no message was passed to the Canadian government that suggests that Obama does not mean what he says about opting out of NAFTA if it is not renegotiated.
However, the Obama camp did not respond to repeated questions from CTV on reports that a conversation on this matter was held between Obama's senior economic adviser -- Austan Goolsbee -- and the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago.
Earlier Thursday, the Obama campaign insisted that no conversations have taken place with any of its senior ranks and representatives of the Canadian government on the NAFTA issue. On Thursday night, CTV spoke with Goolsbee, but he refused to say whether he had such a conversation with the Canadian government office in Chicago. He also said he has been told to direct any questions to the campaign headquarters.
Real Clear Politics
Election 2008, Barack Obama, Economy