POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

A Politician Cares Only About One Job—His Own

by David Trumbull - July 23, 2010

What is going on with Res Publica? A column about local politics and local current events has, more and more, been devoted to U.S. international trade policy. As I sit in a room in Washington, D.C. writing yet another column to send up to Boston, I say to the readers, Believe me that what is going on here in the federal capitol city is too important for Post-Gazette readers not to know, and so little reported in the main-stream media that if you don’t read it here you may not see it anywhere else.

Much is made, on talk radio, and in other conservative and Republican circles, of the American jobs lost due to the Clinton-ear North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. Preferential trade benefits for the nations that border us on the north and south may be a good idea, but NAFTA is full of so many loop-holes that much of the benefit of the agreement has gone to other nations, especially China. Yes, it is little reported, but is easily documented, that U.S. jobs lost to Mexico due to NAFTA are nothing compared to U.S., Mexican and Canadian jobs lost to China due to NAFTA.

Looking out for our backyard, the nations of Central America and the Caribbean, was a long-standing U.S. policy going back to the early 19th century “Monroe Doctrine.” But the trade agreement we have with those nations, like the NAFTA it is modeled on, is shot full of holes that make it a significant transshipment vehicle for Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and other nation’s products.

As our “jobless recovery” continues apace—with substantial fears that even this economic up tick may be a temporary blip before we enter the second part of a double-dip recession—policy makers in Washington continue to push more NAFTA-type schemes sure to result in more American job losses.

You don’t hear much in the news about the proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. And you won’t hear much about it until after the November election. That’s because this one makes NAFTA look like good policy. It will, immediately upon passage, open our market to a duty-free (with a permanent ban our ever increasing that rate) flood of goods from an industrial powerhouse. As for access to the Korean market for U.S.-made goods, our negotiators agreed to allow the Koreans to impose a 10% tax on our products, and gave them the flexibility to raise that tax any time they wish to any level they need to keep U.S. products out. President Obama has stated that he wants Congress to pass this abomination sometime after early November—in other words, after the election.

The machinery of government here in Washington is slowing grinding its way toward a free trade agreement with several nations bordering the Pacific Ocean, including duty-free access to the U.S. for goods from the communist nation of Vietnam. That’s another agreement you will not hear about in the mainstream press until after the election.

Politicians talk before the election about creating American jobs, but watch after the election for the votes they take to send more jobs overseas. The typical politician, after the election, does not worry about jobs—he has his job, and that’s the only one he cares about.

[David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee. Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.]