“I have always opposed NAFTA.”
“I don’t think NAFTA has been good for America – and I never have.”
“Ten years after NAFTA passed, Senator Clinton said it was good for America. … Well, I don’t think NAFTA has been good for America – and I never have.” –Senator Barack Obama in Toledo, Ohio on February 24, 2008
Now in an interview with Fortune magazine out on Monday June 23, 2008, the very junior Senator from Illinois wants us to believe that was just rhetoric. He really didn’t mean what he said.
“Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified,” –Senator Barack Obama in a Fortune magazine interview to be published Monday June 23, 2008
Never mind the heat of battle rhetoric, how about the more reflective printed word?
In his own flyer, Obama is quoted as saying that “one million jobs have been lost because of NAFTA, including nearly 50,000 jobs here in Ohio.” But those figures come from an anti-NAFTA source, the Economic Policy Institute written by Robert Schott. Other economists have criticized that report’s methodology and its conclusions as having overstated the impact of NAFTA, rather they point to a lax enforcement of regulations that have permitted an exodus of American manufacturing jobs and primarily to China, Korea and other East Asian countries not to Mexico or Canada. Other economic studies have concluded the trade deal resulted in much smaller job losses or even a small net gain. Here’s what the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has to say on NAFTA’s effects on American jobs:
NAFTA’s net effect on jobs in the United States has been minuscule, given the size of the U.S. economy and the importance of other trading partners.
The best models to date suggest that NAFTA has caused either no net change in employment or a very small net gain of jobs.
And that’s now after seven years of the Bush Administration failing to enforce regulations that shed American jobs. Under President Clinton, it was a far different story. Here’s Professor of Economics Brad Delong (an Obama supporter, I might add) of the University of California at Berkeley writing in July 2000:
It is time to conclude that NAFTA–the North American Free Trade Agreement–is a success.
His article largely is about the impact of NAFTA on Mexico but he finds that economic benefits accrued to all members of the trade pact. However, he does note the following:
Far from shrinking, employment in autos and auto parts in America has grown by more than twenty percent since the beginning of NAFTA. Far from falling, hourly earnings of U.S. automotive workers have risen since the beginning of NAFTA.
Even as recently as February 2008, just about the time Obama was making his comments in Toledo on how he had always opposed NAFTA, Professor Delong was writing that NAFTA was not the cause of Ohio’s woes.
And, of course, if we go back to his Senate campaign of 2004, Obama said this:
“The United States benefits enormously from exports under the WTO and NAFTA.” quoted in an article by Ron Ingram, Obama, Keyes Court Farmers, Decatur Herald & Review, on September 9, 2004. Source: Lexis/Nexis.
So he was for it before he was against before he was for it. Sound familiar? And so much for the “I never have” part of his argument.
And one more point, I may not remember what I had for lunch earlier this week, but I do remember what I have said over the years, maybe because I have core convictions and that is just it with Senator Obama, he has no core convictions. It’s always what is politically expedient for him at the time.
More on this topic and perhaps others once the full interview is out. He can excuse his “rhetoric” as a slip of the tongue but the printed word is a little harder to dismiss.
From my blog, By The Fault.