Our net loss of 63,000 jobs is 1.44% of the states total employment at the end of last year -- almost double the national average. Hard times for small farmers and small businesses throughout Michigan can be traced back to NAFTA.
And as if NAFTA wasnt bad enough, now were going to hafta suffer through CAFTA, too -- the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
Technically, its now DR-CAFTA, with the Dominican Republic tacked onto the Central American Free Trade Agreement. But, according to the World Bank, that still leaves our new trading partners with a total GDP last year of only $84 billion -- about the economic size of Tampa and its suburbs. Not a lot of disposable income there for people to buy U.S.-made goods... and not a lot of support among the people of the Dominican Republic or Central America.
But the DR does serve a purpose -- as a reminder that both Democrats and Republicans are to blame for this fiasco. Along with their senior partners . . . Corporate America.
More Republicans than Democrats voted for CAFTA, in the Senate June 30 and in the House July 27 -- and 28. The House vote took place over two days because Republican leaders had to hold the 15-minute roll-call vote open for over an hour, cheating as well as bribing and threatening their way to a 217-215 victory at 12:03 a.m.
If you wonder what evidence there is that pork and pressure entered into the vote, consider that the National Journal Congress Daily surveyed House members on CAFTA for its July 26 issue -- and reported a 50-vote margin against the treaty.
Bush, Cheney, Rove, and the whole team were up on Capitol Hill twisting arms into one thousand pieces, as one yes-voting GOP congressman from Arizona put it. Still, at the end of the allotted 15 minutes, the vote count was 180 to 175 against CAFTA, so the Republican leadership kept the vote -- and the bullying tactics -- going.
After about 30 minutes, the vote count seemed to stall at 214 yes and 211 no... with eight Republicans who had committed to oppose CAFTA -- most of them from textile states -- yet to vote. They jockeyed for position for half an hour more, over who would be allowed to vote against the bill and save face back home. One of them now claims his no vote was mis-recorded as not voting. The other NV was cast by a Virginia Congresswoman whose spokesman said she would have voted against CAFTA but was on her way to her district to attend a Boy Scout Jamboree event. The event was canceled because of bad weather.
But, even with all that, CAFTA would have been defeated if one more US Representative had voted no instead of yes. And 15 House Democrats, several of them in safe seats, voted yes.
So did six members of Michigans Congressional delegation. Vernon Ehlers of the 3rd District, was officially undecided when -- at his annual town hall meeting in April -- he told farmers who knew better that NAFTA had been good for Michigan and that trade agreements like NAFTA create jobs, not lose them. When a Michigan Farmers Union representative told Ehlers NAFTA has done nothing for Michigan, Ehlers ignored the applauding audience and dismissed the statement, saying that some of CAFTAs best friends were farmers... and really only the sugar-beet farmers opposed it.
2nd District Representative Peter Hoekstra belonged to a clique of bread-now-or-bombs-later congressmembers who invoked the War on Terror and the red menace of an alternative trade vision from Castros Cuba and the latest leftist bugaboo, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Dan Burton of Indiana even raised the spectre of Che Guevara -- literally, since Guevara was assassinated by the CIA decades ago.
Joe Schwarz echoed Hoekstras national security rhetoric and Ehlers economic misinformation -- despite a poll in his 7th Districts largest city, Battle Creek, showing 85% opposition to CAFTA.
Hoekstra, Ehlers, and Schwarz were joined in the pro-CAFTA camp by 4th District Representative Dave Camp -- after enough protections for sugar producers were thrown in to sweeten the deal -- as well as Fred Upton of the 6th District, and Joe Knollenberg of the 9th District.
The Green Party of Michigan has long opposed NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, and the whole alphabet soup of efforts to create new rights for investors, global rights which will override local democracy, community economics, and human rights, as GPMIs platform puts it.
Republicans and Democrats compete over which can best advance globalization of corporate power; Greens wish to reverse it. We are against corporate control of government and subordination of constitutional self-government to international trade bodies, and for limitations on corporate power.
If you support fair trade that benefits people, not corporations, vote yes for the Green Party.