Mr. Hayes, a Republican whose district in North Carolina has lost thousands of textile jobs in the last four years, had defied President Bush and House Republican leaders by voting against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or Cafta. If he switched from "nay" to "aye," Mr. Hayes recounted, Mr. Hastert promised to push for whatever steps he felt were necessary to restrict imports of Chinese clothing, which has been flooding into the United States in recent months. Within the next 10 days, the Bush administration is expected to rule on whether to impose import quotas on Chinese sweaters, wool trousers, bras and other goods.
Bush administration officials said the ultimate goal was . . . Opening of the United States to greater competition and engagement with poorer countries in its own backyard, a liberation from trade barriers that would benefit Americans as well as their neighbors.
"This became much bigger than Cafta, because it became a political issue,"
CAFTA, as the article says, "will have a negligible impact on the United States." Supporters claim that Unions are exaggerating the effect of the agreement, and they are right. But supporters are just as full of shit. Promising to put on illegal restrictions on Chinese imports to get it passed will do more harm to trade than CAFTA's demise. Had the Bush administration even put in some concessions to labor and environmental interests, it would have had not problem passing, and they wouldn't have had to make protectionist deals with agriculture producers and the anti-chinese faction.
CAFTA "became a political issue"? I don't think it was ever about producing good public policy.