Illinois freshman Rep. Phil Hare (D) has thrown down the gauntlet today, authoring a scathing op-ed in the Politico indicting his party's leadership for joining with President Bush and corporate lobbyists to push a series of NAFTA-style trade deals with Peru, Panama, Colombia and South Korea (known as The Secret Trade Deal of 2007 for being forged behind closed doors and concealed from the public for months). Hare points out that his party won Congress on a promise to reform America's trade policy and that endorsing job-killing, wage-destroying trade pacts just months later is a travesty of the highest order.
Let's be clear: Hare's fight faces David-versus-Goliath odds against the biggest of Big Money. As just one example, the drug cartel-connected Colombian government has put an army of former Clinton administration officials on its payroll to help push the Colombian Free Trade Agreement. That money buys not only votes, it buys rhetoric.
On a conference call this week with reporters about the trade deal, Rep. Greg Meeks (D-NY) - one of the 15 Democrats who provided a key vote for CAFTA - insisted that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is "an honest and courageous man." He said this just three months after the Associated Press reported that newly uncovered video shows Uribe "shaking hands with a militia leader who was arrested only weeks later on suspicion of involvement in multiple murders" and shows Uribe and the militia leader "together in a private meeting." As Hare notes in his op-ed, these militias have been responsible for executing some 2,000 union members in Colombia - "more than the rest of the world's nations combined."
My national column for Creators Syndicate will be out tomorrow - and it will explore these trade deals in some more depth. Stay tuned.
Cross-posted from Working Assets