CAFTA Bill passes House by 2 votes

Mon­u­men­tal efforts have pro­duced a victory—of sorts—that gives lit­tle com­fort. The nar­row pas­sage of the CAFTA bill pos­es a wor­ry­ing ques­tion about Con­gress’ will­ing­ness to make changes in the future to secure much big­ger rewards for U.S. trade The biggest con­cern is the appar­ent rea­son for the vic­to­ry even by a nar­row mar­gin was not that trade with the effi­cient sug­ar pro­duc­ers of Cen­tral Amer­i­ca would help the belea­guered sweet­en­er users in the USA or that access to the low-cost gar­ment pro­duc­ers would be a boon to U.S. con­sumers. The trade ben­e­fits were not enough as far as Con­gress was con­cerned. bq. In the end, it was the nation­al secu­ri­ty argument—that rejec­tion of the deal would fur­ther impov­er­ish the region, under­mine their democ­ra­cies and exac­er­bate the flow of ille­gal immi­grants into the Unit­ed States—that appeared to per­suade some waver­ing members.(“CNN”:http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/07/27/bush.cafta.ap/) The biggest con­cern for any observ­er has to be the grow­ing reluc­tance of Congress—whose mem­bers are run­ning for office every day of their two-year term—to look beyond the pro­duc­er inter­est in trade, or to accept that trade plays a “tiny part”:http://www.ppionline.org/ppi_ci.cfm?contentID=253391&knlgAreaID=108&subsecID=127&FREM=Y&sid=21573&mid=13281—perhaps 2 to 3 percent—in total employ­ment churn (thanks to “Ben Muse”:http://benmuse.typepad.com/ben_muse/2005/06/ppi_traderelate.html for that pointer).[1] To win this fight on debate­able grounds of region­al secu­ri­ty rather than on objec­tive grounds of the eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits might be just the nature of trade pol­i­tics. But it fore­shad­ows a much hard­er strug­gle for approval of a glob­al trade deal that will offer much more to the USA in terms of gains—some of the “biggest net gains(Anderson and Mar­tin, World Bank)”:http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTRANETTRADE/Resources/239054–1109114763805/Ch12_AndersonMartinMensbrugghe.pdf [PDF file, about 400k] in income from in agri­cul­ture for example—but only at the cost of some trade adjust­ment. What will Con­gress say if faced with oppor­tu­ni­ties to make a big dif­fer­ence to the USA’s future eco­nom­ic growth? fn1. Of course the U.S. econ­o­my has been adding jobs on a net basis since the busi­ness cycle turned in late 2001, not los­ing them to Mex­i­co, Cana­da, Chi­na or any­where else. See “this chart”:http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?data_tool=latest_numbers&series_id=CES0000000001&output_view=net_1mth from the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics

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p align=“center”> Bureau of Labor Stats data on job growth (thousands) in USA

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