6 Aug 2006
CAFTA Bait-and-Switch Destroys Georgia Community
Remember during the debate over the Central American Free Trade Agreement, every Republican politician and corporate lobbyist was giving the public the "free trade creates American jobs" line? It’s a line that America has become used to hearing from Washington, D.C. - even though, as both Hostile Takeover and Take This Job and Ship It show, this mantra has no relation to reality. Well, now we have a real-world example of exactly how the "free" traders are trying to mislead America - and how that dishonesty has very serious consequences. The right continues to applaud these trade deals. And sadly, there still remains an (albeit shrinking) collection of limousine liberals, corporate-bought Democratic politicians, Washington-based pundits and DLC staffers still make apologies for this trade policy, claiming that no, really, the people pushing it have the best interests in mind for ordinary people. But after you read this story, you’ll realize what "free" trade pacts really are: a deliberate way to screw over ordinary Americans in the name of corporate profits.
Georgia’s Millen News reports on how Jockey International announced last week that sewing operations at its Millen facility will be permanently terminated, putting 203 workers out on the street. The paper notes that this is the same company that lobbied for CAFTA by claiming the passage of CAFTA was essential to preserving the Millen jobs. The CEO of the company even told the local paper at the time of the CAFTA vote that "The free trade agreements allow this plant to stay here." Now, as the area’s Congressman, Rep. John Barrow (D) notes, "Jockey plans to outsource [the] jobs to Jamaica, Honduras, Costa Rica and El Savador, many of the countries included in the CAFTA."
Barrow voted against CAFTA, realizing early just how dishonest the "free" traders were being. But courageous lawmakers like him who opposed CAFTA were overwhelmed by massive campaign contributions from Big Money interests. They bought enough Republican and Democratic votes in the House to make sure we get a trade policy that has nothing to do with helping ordinary Americans and everything to do with helping corporate executives slash American jobs, wages and exploit oppressed workers abroad.
Barrow is running for re-election in one of the most closely-contested races in the country. And America’s sellout trade policy may become a major issue in the race. Washington politicians, operatives and lobyists want to pretend that trade is not a political issue - but it is increasingly taking center stage in many "red" districts and states.
Why is that the case? Because more and more Americans are realizing that the happy talk from the "free" traders of both parties is just that: talk. It’s the "bait" we always hear everytime Big Money’s newest sellout trade policy comes down the pike. And we are expected to forget the ensuing "switch" after the deal passes - the "switch" that leaves more and more of our communities for dead.
UPDATE: For those looking for who voted for CAFTA, here is the Senate roll call and the House roll call. You will note that Georgia’s two Senators voted for CAFTA - they have some angry constituents to answer to.