Despite campaigning against NAFTA and Free Trade Agreements in 2008, three pending FTA's (South Korea, Colombia and Panama) supported by the President have been delayed because of objections from the AFL-CIO. Re-election is, after all, just around the corner.
With Senate Republicans in strong support of free trade and after considerable wrangling with labor and its Democratic allies in Congress, an amendment offered by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) to the Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act (HR 2832) was approved to provide $900 million worth of training and financial aid over three years to American workers displaced by foreign competition. The amendment was adopted on a bi-partisan vote of 69 – 28 with 16 Republicans joining the Democrats. The Club for Growth (ie Grover Norquist) and the Heritage Action for America opposed the Amendment.
Those 16 Republicans were Sens, Blunt (Mo), Boozman (Ar), Brown (Ma), Coats (In), Cochran (Ms), Collins (Me), Heller (Nv), Hoever (Nd), Lugar (In), Isakson (Ga), Johanns (Ne), Moran (KS), Murkowski (Ak), Portman (WI), Snowe (Me) and Wicker (Ms).
With the Administration and Democrats assured of the necessary political cover, the way is now clear for each FTA to come before Congress for adoption. While the Republicans were not enthusiastic in their support for TAA, this vote shows a willingness to “compromise’ when they receive something of value in return. Meanwhile, the neo-Democratic International Globalist party has shown itself willing to accept bad trade deals that will do nothing to create American jobs, correct the trade deficit or improve the U.S. economy. Now that AFL concerns have been ameliorated by concessions that will do little for its members, labor opposition to the three pending FTA's can be expected to dissolve, paving the way for liberal Congressional Democrats to support the President's effort to further globalize the planet. If this were simply a matter of the President learning the tricks of the trade sooner or playing the game of political hardball more astutely, we can only imagine a brighter future for millions of Americans - but has that ever really been the problem?
During debate, Sen. Cornyn (R-Tx) offered an amendment to “require the President to sell at least 66 Lockheed-Martin F 16 fighter jets to Taiwan”. With 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster, the amendment was defeated 48 – 48 on a tie vote. Four Democrats including Sens. Blumenthal (Conn), Manchin (WVa), Menendez (NJ) and Nelson (Fl) with Sen Leiberman (I-Conn) voted with the Republicans.