August 12, 2003 · admin
Yesterday, Rob asked several questions:
1) It is almost certain that you will be working with a Republican-controlled Congress at least initially during your tenure. Given that, do you believe it likely that you will be able to get the Congress to pass bills authorizing programs for national health care, withdrawal from NAFTA and WTO, reversal of the Bush tax cuts (which will probably be permanent by then), and dealing with other hot-button issues that the Republicans have been so steadfastly against. You can’t just declare these things by executive order; and I don’t see how you can get such “radical liberal” programs passed. That makes many of your 10 key issues non-starters.
My nomination will set the stage for a Democratic Congress. In 1932, when president Franklin Roosevelt was nominated, he ran on a platform of broad economic reform, which excited people to come out in vote in their own enlightened self-interest. As a result, FDR led a Democratic sweep, which resulted in a pickup of 90 House seats and 13 Senate seats. This was accomplished because he represented profound change. He represented jobs, he represented rebuilding America, he represented a hope for popular control over predatory corporations. My nomination will reverse the results of the 1994 election when the Democrats were unable to regain the House and lost the Senate principally because the parties’ ties to corporate interests muted the differences between the parties and discouraged the Democratic base. My nomination will excite the Democratic base, will broaden the reach of the party, and will engage third party activists to join us in a mighty effort to reclaim our government.
2) You state that one of your first acts as President will be to unilaterally withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA and the WTO and institute a regime of “fair trade agreements.” Do you believe that our global trade partners will be receptive to such a regime, given that almost by definition those agreements will be fairer to us than to them? Or will we instead see a return to the bad old days of preferential tariffs and trade wars, which the WTO was created to try to prevent? Or even worse, would withdrawal merely accelerate the migration of trade from our country to other countries with more open trade practices? Would we not then be hoist by our own petard?
We are now being hoisted on the petard of NAFTA and the WTO. America’s trade policies have been dictated by powerful multinational corporations whose flag is not red white and blue, but green with a dollar sign. Our nation is approaching a $500 billion trade deficit, which represents a genuine threat, not only to our economy, but to our Democracy. Global corporations have used the United States to help create a multinational trading arrangement which denies both American workers and workers of other nations the protections of basic labor law. NAFTA and the WTO were written specifically to preclude the enforcement of rights to organize, collective bargaining, strike, rights to safe work place, and right to a secure retirement. This enabled corporations to move jobs out of America to places where workers have no protections. NAFTA and the WTO have facilitated a race to the bottom in terms of wages and workers rights generally. The WTO essentially locked in the NAFTA trading regime by making any attempts to modify the basis of trade WTO-illegal.
The question is not whether or not America trades with the world, the questions are what are the rules of the game. And America is claimed by rules which are rigged against us. I have said that I will cancel NAFTA and the WTO in order to return to bilateral trade, conditioned on workers rights, human rights, and environmental quality principles being written into our trade agreements with other nations. The is the only way that we can stop corporations from coercing wage concessions or breaking United States unions. This is the only way that we can re-empower the hopes of people of all nations for a better standard of living and for control of the institutions of their own governments.
This issue reflects not mere differences of opinion within our party but a great divide. On one side of the divide stands global corporations and their political supporters. On the other side stands workers and their supporters. I stand resolutely with America’s workers and with those peoples of the world who are also striving for human dignity. I will continue to challenge all other Democratic candidates on this issue to see whose side they stand on so that the American people can clearly see whose side they’re on. It’s not enough to say you’re going to fix NAFTA and the WTO, the only way to fix it to exercise the withdrawal provisions of both laws and return to bilateral trade, conditioned on workers rights, human rights and environmental quality principles.
Dennis J. Kucinich