10/29/2007 12:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Edwards Move Makes Trade '08 Centerpiece

The Financial Times headline this morning says it all: "Edwards' Attack on Peru Deal Shifts Debate." The story summarizes John Edwards (D) announcement that he is opposing not only the Peru Free Trade Agreement, but the entire package of White House-backed deals designed to expand the job-killing, wage-destroying NAFTA trade model into South America and Asia - the package of deals that a small handful of Democrats endorsed back on May 10th in a secret pact with the Bush administration. Edwards said the agreements do "not meet my standard of putting American workers and communities first, ahead of the interests of the big multinational corporations, which for too long have rigged our trade policies for themselves."

The move, consistent with Edwards' economic populist campaign, drives a wedge right through the heart of the Democratic presidential primary.

Last week, as noted here on this site, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) announced his support for the Peru deal, and then tried to obfuscate his position under harsh questioning. Meanwhile, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) hasn't said anything about the Peru deal.

As Public Citizen's Lori Wallach said, Edwards move now puts the spotlight on the divide between the progressive movement and what I have called the Money Party (and Edwards has called the Corporate Democrats).

"This is where the rubber hits the road and we find out how far Hillary thinks she needs to go on trade to court the Democratic base," she said. "Peru is about to go to a Senate vote so she can't duck the issue."

You can be sure we'll be hearing a lot of noise about how this deal is supposedly great for average Americans and Peruvians alike. But remember, no major labor, human rights, anti-poverty, environmental, consumer protection or religious group in either the United States or Peru have endorsed the deal. In its international version (not online) the Financial Times, in fact, points out that Edwards announcement was welcomed by, among others, "the heads of Peru's labor movement and Pedro Barretto, the country's archbishop."

Iowa is a state that has been hard hit by lobbyist-written trade deals and that has a history of trade/globalization issues roiling presidential primaries. Edwards' move will likely ensure that's the case again this year, especially considering how split the the Democratic cardidates are in terms of their allegiances to the progressive movement and the Money Party in Washington.

FRIENDLY REMINDER: To the conspiracy theorists, let me reiterate what I have said often in the past: I do not work for nor get paid by nor have officially endorsed any candidate. Please debate the issue, rather than whipping up wild theories unsubstantiated by any evidence.

Cross-posted from Working Assets