Special Interests Drive Disastrous Free Trade Agreements

Karl Rusnak, Economy in Crisis The simple fact is that most Americans do not want new NAFTA-like trade agreements. The majority of Americans believe that free trade agreements have cost jobs in the United States and that trade agreements have hurt the country overall. So why do our politicians continue to push these disastrous agreements? In a recent article Gordon Lafer, former senior adviser to the U.S. House’s Labor Committee, makes the case that our lawmakers have chosen to serve their donors rather than the voters on the trade issue. He uses the case of the pending Colombian agreement as illustration, saying that our lawmakers are ignoring the workers rights issues that matter to their constituents in favor of bigger profits for their donors. “What voters want is a guarantee, at minimum, that American jobs are not put into competition with workers whose wages are kept low because they lack the freedom to improve their conditions. Colombia — with 50 union members assassinated every year — is the most dangerous country in the world for workplace activists.” When our politicians are so blatantly ignoring the wishes of the American voter, the justification must lie, as Lafer says, with the loyalty to campaign donors and lobbyists. The campaign cycle has become such that politicians are constantly running for office, never focusing on the best policies for the country. A look at the length of presidential campaigns is a good example. Nearly a year and a half out from the 2012 election there are campaign developments in the news everyday. The greater the cost and length of campaigns, the more influence lobbyists and wealthy donors will have, and the more policies we will have that defy the will of the general public. The truly disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court ruling compounded the problem by opening the door to unbridled campaign spending, and cementing a political culture where lawmakers cannot afford to neglect donors with money to spend. A grassroots campaign of concerned citizens stands little chance of funding a candidate against a group of multinational corporations. Reforms are needed that allow politicians to govern in the best interest of their constituents without fear that they will be unable to win reelection if they do the right thing. Most Americans do not want new trade agreements, but their voices cannot be heard over the din of a few wealthy voices. Read original post here.