Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's a Bad Time for a Trade War People

Good Morning Readers! I thought I might be a little less angry today - compared to yesterday's rant - by discussing a topic and taking a position that may shock some of you, at least those who consider me a radical, Republican-Bush-hating menace to society. Believe it or not, I plan to defend a program created by the Bush Administration, and one that unions despise. I know, it shocks me too.

It involves the right of Mexican trucks to enter the United States. The program started under the Bush Administration and was bitterly opposed by many Democratic lawmakers and by the Teamsters Union. Lawmakers are preparing to cut off the money for the one and a half year-old pilot program that opened the way for up to 500 Mexican trucks from 100 operators to drive deeper into the United States.

Originally the U.S. has allowed only a few Mexican trucks to drive beyond a southern border buffer zone, although it agreed under the Clinton Administration, under the North American Free Trade Agreement, to allow Mexican trucks full access to U.S. roadways beginning in 1995.

As far as I can tell from my research, Mexico allowed the same access for U. S. truckers. Fair is fair! President Clinton negotiated and signed the agreement, and unless they start to pick and choose NAFTA clauses too, it's up to us to keep it. Congress, especially Democrats, must give in on this one. Mexico can take retaliatory action by placing very expensive tariffs on U.S. goods.

Who knew, but after Congress announced its intention to kill the program last week, Mexico said it would increase tariffs on 90 industrial and agricultural goods, likely to include politically sensitive farm products. John Deere and the rest of agricultural America are already hanging by a thread. Congress can be so stupid some times.

You see, Mexico was smart and thought ahead by obtaining a judicial ruling in 2001 under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allowing it to impose sanctions, so Congress is playing with fire - an especially hot fire during this horrible JOB KILLING recession. How can you weigh the Teamsters against the farm workers? It doesn't work that way. We have to find a better solution.

We cannot afford sanctions from one of our LARGEST TRADING PARTNERS at this time! It's too risky for rural America. Thousands of jobs are at risk. (Btw, screw you Republicans who accuse me of being a West Coast elitist. I do care about the red states too, even if they don't know how to vote properly.)

The sanctions, which Mexican officials say are set to be imposed later this week, will be one of the largest acts of retaliation against US exports. US goods exports to Mexico totalled $151.5 BILLION last year. On Monday, Gerardo Ruíz Mateos, Mexico’s economy minister, said: “We believe that the action taken by the US is wrong, protectionist and in clear violation of NAFTA.”

The White House and U.S. trade representatives are supposedly examining all possible options, but but that won't help keep American JOBS when the Mexicans decide to make good on their threat. The only option is for Democrats to tell the unions that farm jobs are important too, and that sometimes one union has to BACK DOWN and try to solve this problem in a more creative win-win fashion - such as help the Mexicans improve their trucking industry, or negotiate benefits for our truckers in Mexico. There must be a better solution.

The Senate is considering a $410 billion House-passed spending bill that halts funding for the Mexican truck program. Two years ago, the Senate voted 74-24 to cut off the program's funding. Voting with the majority at the time were Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Interestingly, now that George Bush is gone, Senate Republicans don't even plan to keep supporting the program. It makes you wonder whether they only supported the program to get the Hispanic vote in the first place - they could assume the Southern trucker vote was in the bag. That would be my guess. They're hard to figure out when it comes to this issue. They hate unions, yet they also don't like the idea of Mexican truckers taking American jobs.

They're sort of schizophrenic on this one. Border state Republican nut job Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, who tried to keep the money flowing in 2007 on behalf of George Bush, is now giving up and moving on. Oh let's face it, they really didn't care in the first place. For them, it was all about getting a few labor, or worker-bee, votes from people who they think can't even spell trucker, must less drive one properly.

The really weird open question for me involves the union claim that Mexican trucks are unsafe. The unions are claiming that most Mexican trucks entering the US are run by so-called “drayage” operations that use older vehicles more likely to fail inspection tests. Scary, especially on wet roads!

However, it's still an open, and political, question because a study funded by the US Department of Transportation - under George "he lies too easily" Bush found that when comparing like with like, Mexican trucks were often safer than their US counterparts. Can we trust that report? My gut tells me no, but who knows. US trucks are run ragged and can look pretty rough sometimes. Regardless, the issue of truck safety is important and should still be resolved.

The Mexicans have been extraordinarily patient on this issue, and I think we need to address it for the good of the economy, for the Mexican and American worker, for the safety of American roads, and to stop a ridiculous new trade war. President Obama and Democratic leaders should come up with a big picture solution fast, and stop this before it gets any worse. They are our neighbors, our friends, and they deserve a reasonable solution.

Tuesday's Political Rant - Michael


JollyRoger said...

I have to disagree. Until Mexican safety and emissions regulations match ours, I don't want those trucks on our roads.

by Michael Boh said...

I understand and agree JR - that's important to me too. That's why I want Obama and the Dems to come up with a big picture solution. I just want them to respect Mexico more (my background is Scottish/German, so it's about diplomacy for me, and not personal), and acknowledge that our southern neighbor buys hundreds of billions worth of our products each year. They're a long-term, good customer, who should be treated with urgency and respect. I think the Republicans paid them lip service. We Dems need to respond more creatively. Thx. MB

Anonymous said...

Michael I'm going to give you a big clue, George Bush is no longer President, get over it and start placing the blame where it belongs.

This is a fucking joke when did Boh become a Scottish or German name?

"(my background is Scottish/German, so it's about diplomacy for me, and not personal)"

by Michael Boh said...

Anon - I stick by my work. On the other hand you really need to learn how to research before dismissing things so easily. You might learn something for a change.

As always, the opposition gets personal. Anon, Boh is German-Czech on my father's side. My mother's side is very Scottish-Irish. Happy St. Patrick's Day btw. Why don't you just ask nicely before you get so rude and nasty. Your mother would be ashamed. Michael (btw, try using your name next time too)

Anonymous said...

Boh don't you think the people would be better served if you spent more time on Obama and his regime and the Nazi policies they are trying to implement, you being German I'm sure you can give us the real skinny on these tactics.....by the way Boh is a great Irish name.....

by Michael Boh said...

I don't know how to react to some of your comments - like that one - Anon. They are so weird. Puncuation could help. I'm convinced you're either drunk or - since you appreciate rudeness and abuse - just plain stupid. I can tell from your focus on my ethnicity that you're probably a bigot. Good luck with that! I'm sure being a stupid bigot can't be easy in this progressive world. MB

Anonymous said...

Boh let me spell it out to you, we now have a Nazi regime in place and its leader is Obama, now on to you it is always easier to demonize the other party than to justify the failed policies of the current administration, that is why we always get a post from you regarding the Republican part or George Bush, but never anything on the Democats.

sue said...

Michael, why waste your time on ignorance. These people delete and distort our comments so you should do the same to people like anon. My brother says to call them racist swine, his words not mine!