U.S. President raises stakes on free trade by forcing vote on Colombia

President Bush soon will take one of the biggest risks of his presidency by forcing Congress to vote on Colombian free trade without Democratic leaders' consent. A big gamble, yes, but it's the only way to win, according to Investor's Business Daily. For two years, Congress has dithered about its passage, constantly changing the terms of approval, and in the end just stalling because most members can't justify openly scuppering it.

America's economy and strategic interests have been held hostage to partisan politics for too long. There's no good reason not to pass the Colombia pact, says IBD:

  • Colombia is America’s best ally in the hemisphere and, coming up from a long war, has a sharply improving democracy and human rights record.

  • Right now it's under threat from FARC, an Al-Qaeda-like transnational terrorist gang bankrolled with $300 million from Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

    Meanwhile, exports can help in America's effort to stave off recession, says IBD:

  • U.S. exports grew 12.6 per cent in 2007, and exports to free-trade countries grew faster still.

  • Last year, exports accounted for 40 per cent of U.S. growth.

    Bush will put the Colombia pact forward after Easter. Presidents usually submit trade treaties to Congress and rely on its leaders to assemble the 'yes' votes. Bypassing the leadership could mean failure – and with it, the end of the U.S. alliance with Colombia and the hemispheric triumph of Hugo Chavez, says IBD.

    Source: Editorial, Bush Raises Stakes On Free Trade, Investor's Business Daily, March 12, 2008.

    For text: http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=290214210241832

    For more on Trade Issues: http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_Category=42

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 18 March 2008
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