Friday, March 07, 2008

Obama on NAFTA


"For the Canadians, a key point of concern was Obama's sharp criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement. DeMora wrote Wilson that in the Chicago meeting, Goolsbee "candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign" but reassured Rioux that Obama's NAFTA-bashing "should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans." Three weeks later, Canada's CTV News reported that a "senior member" of Obama's campaign had phoned Wilson personally to advise him to "not be worried about what Obama says about NAFTA." The Obama campaign denied that story, which (if you believe DeMora's account) was only slightly off the mark, and declined to elaborate. On March 3 the Associated Press released the DeMora memo, which by then had circulated widely within the Canadian government. Asked once again to comment, Obama said his campaign provided Canada no such reassurance while Goolsbee maintained that DeMora "misinterpreted" his comments. For its part, the Chicago consulate smoothed things over with a statement saying, "there was no intention to convey, in any way, that Senator Obama and his campaign team were taking a different position in public from views expressed in private." It looks like President Obama may owe one to our friendly neighbors to the north."

Then the memo Itself:4. Noting anxiety among many US domestic audiences about the US economic
out.look, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has
emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign. Consistent.
with CHCGO/WSHDC's analysis, he cautioned that this messaging should not be
taken out of context and should be viewed as more about. political- positioning
than a cl-ear articul-at.ion of policy p1ans. He al-so suggested that. of the
Democrat j-c candidates, Obama has been the l-east protectionist
(unint.elligibIe) . HOM asked whether we coul-d expect to hear more of t.his as
3he elections progressed, Gool-sbee thought not. In fact, he mentioned that
going forward the Obama camp was going to be careful to send the appropriate
message without coming off too protectionist. "

But in fairness, after this hypocrisy the memo states:

"7 ' when asked about Obama's statements and position
on NAFTA, Goolsbee was
quick to indicate that the Senator
is less interested in fundamental changes
to the agreement and more looking at clarifying
language on labour mobility
and environmental- standards."

Labor! That's good, right? But it's Labor Mobility that he's concerned about, which means the ability of workers to emigrate to Canada or Mexico from the U.S. or from Mexico to Canada and the U.S. or from Canada to the U.S. and Mexico. This is a standard free market criticism of NAFTA--that it lets capital move across borders but not people, therefore making markets less efficient. If your job moves to Veracruz and the people doing it are making a fraction of what you earned then gosh darnit you should be able to move to Veracruz and work for a pittance yourself.

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