The Columbia Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) is Capital Hill’s latest battle royal, and Nancy Pelosi seems determined to take on all comers, including common sense. The merits of free trade are self-evident: Despite painful job losses, economies benefit when goods and services are produced at the cheapest possible price. Free trade therefore lowers the cost of living and doing business, and makes the world economy more productive.
But, as you may have heard, we’re having an election in November, which means that brainless populism carries the day. Investor’s Business Daily takes aim at one of the worst offenders, Nancy Pelosi:
In Colombia’s case, tariffs on Colombian goods coming to the U.S. already are virtually nil. But under a free-trade deal, U.S. firms will see tariffs slashed. The U.S. will gain $2.5 billion in the first year alone — and just as recession beckons.
For politicians of all stripes, this is a bread-and-butter issue that costs nothing and would be stupid to reject.
Pelosi herself must realise this, because running away from a vote is not the same as voting “no.” She knows it’s less about objecting to Colombia’s human rights or labour record than it is about Big labour and influential Democrats who have loudly condemned it.
By signing a deal with Uribe’s Columbia, the US would strengthen an important ally in the region, an ally that has made great strides both politically and economically. The agreement would send a powerful message to petty despot Hugo Chavez and his allies and signal America’s intent to stand by friends in the region. It’s high time that Congress put aside its petty political posturing and did the right thing.
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