Much like a menacing spell of demons, the North American Free Trade Agreement may be finally cast out in favor of a new deal negotiated and signed by U.S., Mexican, and Canadian leaders this week. But the exorcism hasn’t happened yet, and there is reason to believe that the House of Representatives now led by the Democratic Party may be the ones to scuttle the deal.
After almost 18 months of tense negotiations, tariff threats and various acts of push-me, pull-you to get a deal on the table wouldn’t it just be a kick in the pants if the United States were the ones to turn tail and run? Formerly identified as the party who supports labor, the Democrats no longer give a rat’s derriere whether more jobs are created or if the economy is boosted by the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). What they care about is satisfying their voracious power-lust. Period.
Ratification of the trade agreement is necessary by all three countries before the deal can be enforced. The signing ceremony came just under the political wire as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto passes the torch to his successor Andrés Manuel López Obrador this weekend. But there doesn’t seem to be a problem with the approval of USMCA in Mexico where the new president’s party controls the Senate. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Mr. López Obrador—a longtime opponent of Mexico’s export-oriented economic model—changed course during this year’s presidential campaign and gave his backing to the Nafta overhaul.”
After quite a bit of wrangling and nastiness slowly dribbling across the border like maple syrup, Canada seems ready to play ball as well. Of course, Prime Minister Trudeau couldn’t finish with class and had to take a dig at President Trump during the signing ceremonies on Friday. Sounding like a petulant child who couldn’t temper tantrum Daddy into giving him his way, Mr. Trudeau mouthed off about U.S. aluminum and steel tariffs that are still in place. Being the grown-up in the room, Mr. Trump didn’t bat an eyelash as Trudeau issued his displeasure. And why should he? When you have the winning hand, you needn’t glower. After years of horse trading, it’s obvious Mr. Trump recognizes that talk is cheap.
A few highlights of the USMCA prove that the president – and the American worker – came out on top for the most part:
- 75% – instead of 62.4% – of vehicle parts must be made in North America (edging out imports) to qualify for tariff-free trade.
- 40-45% of a vehicle must be made by workers earning a minimum of $16 an hour (edging out Mexican workers).
- U.S. dairy farmers are permitted greater access to the Canadian market.
So, the question remains: Why would House Democrats vote against the USMCA? For one, Democratic lawmakers have been voting against trade agreements for the last couple of decades even when such measures are put forth by Democratic administrations.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) voiced her opposition to the USMCA Thursday, Nov. 29. “I oppose NAFTA 2.0, and will vote against it in the Senate unless President Trump reopens the agreement and produces a better deal for America’s working families,” said Warren in a speech at American University this week. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) chimed in with, “It’s going to be a very tough sell.” Perhaps Democratic lawmakers are being emboldened by people like Celeste Drake of the AFL-CIO who said, “This deal hasn’t met the mark.”
Then there is the real reason: Should USMCA sail through Congress, the Dems would be handing Mr. Trump a win. And right there you have the essence of the problem. Democrats feel they must do everything in their power to obstruct the president from obtaining a legislative victory – large or small. So, Democrats can stop their endless virtue signaling because voting no on the USMCA will reveal their true colors. It’s all about the political power game for the so-called progressives, American workers be damned.
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