Saturday, March 01, 2008

NAFTA – Deception by Obama and Hillary

Washington Post writes an excellent editorial criticizing Obama and Hillary the way both of them are wanting to re-negotiate a settled treaty.
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Let us keep aside Hillary, her campaign was never about talking ‘truthfully’. She will drown anyways with the weight of all her contradictions and deceiving of her voters. But what is with Obama? Where is his talk of ‘his campaign is not about telling people what is nice to hear but about telling unpleasant things at times too’? Why is he not walking his talk? Just for votes from Ohio?

This is because, reality is America can not reopen NAFTA. That will be disaster. Afterwards no country in the world would like to come ahead for any kind of trade treaty with America. Trying to enforce unfulfilled conditions of the NAFTA agreement is one thing and putting the entire treaty back on the table for renegotiation is another.

What any new President needs to do is to indicate that:
- He (or she) can not falsely promise people to reopen NAFTA and dangerously raise wrong hopes for people.
- What he would do when he president is to enforce all conditions of the original treaty. To that extent it may bring some benefits to America, though that is doubtful because both Mexico and Canada also will find promises unfulfilled by America.
- Rather he should declare a new business investment program so that jobs come back to states like Ohio.
- He should help develop legal and business environment so that whatever jobs are left or will be created in future are not hostage to ‘militant’ labor unions. Of course, the flip side of that is to create legal business environment where we do not get ‘Benedict Arnold’ CEOs.
- One way is for the government to offer / strengthen health benefits for unemployed person and her family for one year. Lack of health insurance is the single most devastating impact of unemployment. When will our politicians understand that? As long as there is Capitalism, job losses and unemployment is part and parcel of the system. It is acceptable because the same Capitalism creates new jobs too. It is the transition from one job to another, where we need help from the state; especially for health insurance since it is tightly related to employment.
- Also, the new president needs to ensure that his policies help increase longer unemployment benefits as well as genuine retraining avenues / options.

In absence of such concrete proposals, pounding on NAFTA is like deceiving voters.

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