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July 28, 2005

CAFTA Passes

CAFTA just passed, 217-215. 15 Democrats voted with the bad guys, while 20 Republicans joined the angels. A few things:

• Odds are this wasn't really a tied vote. David Sirota is telling us to think of each dissenting Dem as the deciding defection, but it's more likely that the Republicans had a few more last-case yes's who were allowed to vote no so long as their "aye" wasn't needed to pass the bill. If DeLay can pass the bill while exempting weak Republicans in trade-decimated areas, all the better.

• Nevertheless, screw those Democrats who defected.

• This is, even with passage, a sign of serious weakness for the right. That a run-of-the-mill trade bill cleared with a mere single vote despite the easy Republican majority shows how much weaker party discipline has become in their caucus. That it passed with only 15 Democratic defections is a sign of how much stronger our caucus unity has gotten.

• It also proves Sam's argument that the right consciously crafts bills that won't attract Democratic support so they can further cut Democrats off from business donations. The Republican attack on Democratic funding is one of the most underreported political stories of the last few years. It's systematic, it's smart, and it'd be working, too, if not for all you meddling small donors!

• We put up a hell of a fight. We put up a hell of a fight over a bill that wasn't much in the news and that won't have a major economic impact. We put up a fight because it was a bad bill crafted in a partisan way that will further weaken Central American labor standards and spread the wrong sort of race-to-the-bottom free trade. That we were able to make them sweat it out on this is highly impressive, particularly considering where we were a few short years ago.

• We should hang this around their necks in 06. See which districts have been hit the worst by outsourcing and pound them with flyers, leaflets, and ads about their representative's gutless vote to undermine American workers with Central American sweatshops.

July 28, 2005 | Permalink

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» BillBlast: CAFTA Chatter from Beltway Blogroll
The CAFTA chatter in the blogosphere soared after the House's narrow and procedurally rigged vote early this morning to endorse the Central America Free Trade Agreement. The 217-215 vote for passage came after Republican leaders held the 15-minute vote... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 28, 2005 1:33:08 PM

» CAFTA: A Win-Win Situation from Fresh Politics
The Dominican Republic–Central Ameri­can Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) is up for a vote this week in the House. The proposed agreement would expand trade between the United States and the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cost... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 28, 2005 2:59:22 PM

» BillBlast: CAFTA Chatter from Beltway Blogroll
The CAFTA chatter in the blogosphere soared after the House's narrow and procedurally rigged vote early this morning to endorse the Central America Free Trade Agreement. The 217-215 vote for passage came after Republican leaders held the 15-minute vote... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 9, 2005 4:54:03 PM

Comments

Speaking of making the Repubs sweat: the NRCC just dumped $285,000 into ad buys in the OH-2 election next Tuesday where Democrat Iraq veteran Hackett is giving Repub Schmidt a race to replace Rob Portman (R).

In the last four Pres. elections, Repubs have never had less than 72% of the vote. Rumors are that the vote is perhaps within 5% now.

Grassroots have donated $256,000 to Hackett thru ActBlue. Winning this is a very long shot, but $285,000 won't be available to Repubs because of this race.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jul 28, 2005 1:01:15 AM

Indeed, it was a tough beat. I was interested to see that Chuck Taylor, the NC Republican who was so outspoken against this bill when compared to his Republican cohorts, was among the 9 non-voters at the very end who helped push the time of the vote over 45 minutes past its expiration point.

We got the shaft on this bill, just like we did on the Medicare one a few years ago. Maybe not as bad, but pretty close.

Those 15 Dems will pay a price in 2006. And they deserve to. But you're right, our show of unity in the House is a good thing--it shows positive steps towards 2006. And so does the information that Jim commented on above.

Posted by: Chris Woods | Jul 28, 2005 1:18:48 AM

I wonder how effective the outsourcing issue actually is for Democrats. To a large extent, Inez Tennenbaum made the 2004 South Carolina Senate race about trade issues and outsourcing and lost textile jobs and the like. She was up against Jim DeMint, a slick flat-taxer who never met a trade barrier he didn't want to tear down with abandon, and Tennenbaum still lost pretty handily.

Now maybe SC's a bad example since it's so conservative in other ways, but that race was the perfect place to test out Thomas Frank's thesis. And it didn't work. If the pseudo-protectionists can't win in SC, then that just doesn't leave many other places where the sort of demagoguing on trade that you're suggesting can work. Let alone a more modest and bloodless message about "fair trade" and TAA and whatnot.

(By the way, I seriously doubt that sweatshops in Central America are undermining American workers. China and India? Maybe. I really don't know. Maybe. But Central America? CAFTA? How do you figure?)

Posted by: Brad Plumer | Jul 28, 2005 1:54:43 AM

I don't, honestly. I'm just a cynical political guy. I do tend to think foreign sweatshops make effective politics when used right. "Senator so-and-so voted for a bill that made it legal, that encouraged, American companies to give your jobs to Honduran workers, working for nothing, in conditions most of us couldn't even survive."

God knows I'm no fan of Frank, but I can't imagine that such an argument couldn't be part of an effective political appeal.

Posted by: Ezra Klein | Jul 28, 2005 2:12:20 AM

Whatever the Dem trade message will end up being, it should not be something that is purely anti-free-trade (period).

The problem with CAFTA (and NAFTA) etc. is that the whole range of issues of trade were not attended to: Working conditions, wages, collective bargaining, reciprocity, displaced worker retraining and compensation, etc.

The issue should be not that a bill was passed (or voted against), but that a BAD bill was up for approval.

Similarly with energy, bankruptcy, health care, social security, you name it. There are wise policies and unwise policies. 'Dems vigorously support wise policies and will fight like hell against bad ones: and unified.'

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jul 28, 2005 3:10:37 AM

Those 15 Dems will pay a price in 2006. And they deserve to. But you're right, our show of unity in the House is a good thing--it shows positive steps towards 2006.

You all nod your heads in agreement about how party unity is a great thing when Democrats show unison, but when Republicans do the same thing, they are bullheaded lockstep soldiers who are being threatened and bullied by Tom DeLay and are criticized for not being "free thinkers". I really don't see the difference other than pure partisanship.

Posted by: Robert Zimmerman | Jul 28, 2005 8:39:35 AM

There isn't one ;)

Posted by: Ezra Klein | Jul 28, 2005 10:04:37 AM

The difference is in the issues: i.e., lockstep unity to, say, abolish the estate tax versus lockstep unity to try to defeat an utterly unprincipled trade bill.

Posted by: kth | Jul 28, 2005 10:10:13 AM

The difference is in the issues: i.e., lockstep unity to, say, abolish the estate tax versus lockstep unity to try to defeat an utterly unprincipled trade bill.

This is just asinine. What a subjective ajnd myopic view of the world you have. Ezra has it right and you twitch in reaction like muscle tissue subjected to electric stimulus.

Posted by: Robert Zimmerman | Jul 28, 2005 10:16:01 AM

I dunno, Ezra. At least according to what I heard on Nice Polite Republicans this morning, it appears the House leadership held the vote open again until they got the result they wanted. Had they closed at the normal 15 minute period, CAFTA wouldn't have passed. And then as soon as they got a bare majority, the leadership gaveled the vote closed before anybody else could change his/her mind.

This one has the odor of something rotten in the state of Denmark about it.

Posted by: Michael | Jul 28, 2005 10:25:53 AM

Seriously RZ, we believe our issues are right and yours are wrong. Lockstep on our stuff is good, lockstep on your energy bill or tax cut is bad. Plus: lockstep is a new and exciting thing for us. We're just getting used to the idea of coherency...

Posted by: Ezra Klein | Jul 28, 2005 10:27:31 AM

Lockstep is especially bad from what should be your angle when it goes against traditional conversative values, such as new entitlements and such. I mean, I can't believe we don't hear more conservatives crying out about this. Jay Severin on 96.9 in Boston is one that usually calls a spade a spade. Where are the rest of them? Our beef with such lockstep comes when those new entitlements are poorly designed.

Lockstep in our case is good when it goes with liberal principles.

Posted by: Adrock | Jul 28, 2005 11:35:26 AM

"We should hang this around their necks in 06. See which districts have been hit the worst by outsourcing and pound them with flyers, leaflets, and ads about their representative's gutless vote to undermine American workers with Central American sweatshops."

This is, in my opinion at least, an example of Liberal Philosophical incoherence. Basically, the understanding I have is that you support trade, but want 'Fair' trade not 'Free' trade.

Yet you are willing to campaign on pure protectionist platform.

CAFTA will not have a huge economic effect on America. It may have a serious economic effect on some central American nations, and your contention that it will harm those nations is something that can be looked at. You are not willing to campaign on the actual issues though, instead preferring a bait and switch technique.

I expect that the best that technique will get you is a short term victory, and I think even that unlikely.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Jul 28, 2005 12:09:58 PM

You are not willing to campaign on the actual issues though, instead preferring a bait and switch technique.

Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander, Dave.

Posted by: TJ | Jul 28, 2005 12:23:56 PM

Seriously RZ, we believe our issues are right and yours are wrong. Lockstep on our stuff is good, lockstep on your energy bill or tax cut is bad.

Well, I see it exactly the opposite, and that was my point. My vision of the role of the proper role of government is apparently much different than what yours is.

Posted by: Robert Zimmerman | Jul 28, 2005 1:53:21 PM

You naive, warm-hearted fool.

Posted by: Taylor | Jul 28, 2005 2:54:12 PM

TJ,

I think that those tactics are not good for any party long term. I have never advocated bait and switch campaign tactics, and I don't think they pay off.

Perhaps I am somewhat blinded by partisan beliefs, but while I feel that both sides can be hypocritical at times, and certainly politicians of both stripes are often that way, Liberals as individuals at the grass roots seem fully willing to engage in hypocrisy if it will win them elections. I don't see that from Conservatives.

Sure Conservatives may at time embrace inconsistent goals, and their actions may not live up to their words, but they don't seem to consicously choose to engage in hypocrisy in exchange for victory.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Jul 28, 2005 3:01:54 PM

give your jobs to Honduran workers

Oh my God, we can't give the brown people jobs!

Ezra, do you really want your side pandering to this kind of thinly veiled xenophobia?

Posted by: Tim | Jul 29, 2005 9:35:26 AM

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 16, 2007 11:07:16 PM

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