Free trade deal depends on Democrats

Marketplace Staff Apr 7, 2008


Scott Jagow: It was a bad weekend for Hillary Clinton’s chief campaign strategist, Mark Penn. First, he was fired by the Colombian government. Penn’s PR firm was helping Columbia lobby for a free trade agreement with the U.S. And for doing that, Penn was fired by the Clinton campaign. Meanwhile, the Bush Administration might still offer up that trade agreement this week. Marketplace’s Dan Grech reports from our America’s Desk at WLRN.

Dan Grech: The U.S. has sent Colombia billions in aid and offers sweetheart trade terms on exports such as flowers and coffee. But when it comes to approving a free trade deal, the Democrats in Congress stand in the way. Adam Isaacson is with the Center for International Policy, a think tank in Washington, D.C. He says many Democrats are lukewarm on free trade, especially with Colombia’s spotty human rights record.

Adam Isaacson: Most Democratic leaders that I’ve talked to, they’re just shaking their head and saying no to the free trade agreement, and covering their ears when it comes time to talk about what to do instead.

But President Bush might provoke a schoolyard rumble. He’s expected to introduce the trade deal in Congress as early as this week.

Isaacson: They’re calling this the nuclear option. In which, they’re actually introducing it, risking it actually being defeated. We’ve never had a major trade agreement defeated in the last generation or so.

Once the Colombian trade deal is introduced, Congress has 90 days in session to vote it up or down.

I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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