The latest case of dashed hopes was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's unilateral killing of the free trade agreement between the US and Colombia. The Democrat penchant for protectionism has raised its ugly head. As Glenn Reynolds put it, “Mr. Smoot, meet Mr. Hawley”, a reference to trade protection legislation in 1930 that helped deepen and intensify the Great Depression by making sure trade with the rest of the world all but ceased, which cost millions of Americans their jobs.
The Democratic Party's protectionist make-over was completed yesterday, when Nancy Pelosi decided to kill the Colombia free trade agreement. Her objections had nothing to do with the evidence and everything to do with politics, but this was an act of particular bad faith. It will damage the economic and security interests of the U.S. while trashing our best ally in Latin America.
The Colombia trade pact was signed in 2006 and renegotiated last year to accommodate Democratic demands for tougher labor and environmental standards. Even after more than 250 consultations with Democrats, and further concessions, including promises to spend more on domestic unemployment insurance, the deal remained stalled in Congress. Apparently the problem was that Democrats kept getting their way.
So on Monday, President Bush submitted the bill to Congress over liberal protests, which, under a bargain between Congress and the White House for trade promotion authority, mandated an up-or-down vote within 90 days. Today Ms. Pelosi will make an ex post facto change to House rules to avoid the required vote, withdrawing from the timetable and thus relegating the Colombia deal to a perhaps permanent limbo.
For good measure, the double-cross dismantles the only process that allows any Administration to conduct good-faith negotiations with foreign nations. No one is going to take the U.S. at its word if Congress is going to change the rules when it has second thoughts and renege.
The Dems talk the talk about rebuilding America's image. Unfortunately they don't walk the walk, making sure the image of America they're building is one that says we can't be trusted because Congress, or more specifically, a Democratic majority Congress will make sure any agreement entered into by the President is killed or falls by the wayside. They are trying to take upon themselves a power reserved to the President by the US Constitution – to run foreign policy, including the making of treaties. It isn't the first time the Democrats have tried this, usually to the detriment of the country.
I find it curious that the Dems are willing to repudiate and humiliate our allies, making sure our allies get “the short end of the stick.”