Take Your Medicine

Written by Allison Kilkenny

President Obama says the new trade deal with South Korea is totally awesome, will boost annual exports, secure jobs, and result in everyone getting a pony. He called this arrangement “a free and fair trade agreement” and said that it was already “proving its worth.”

Actually, sorry. That was Hillary Clinton speaking on NAFTA. In 1996.

President Obama says this trade agreement with South Korea “recognizes the reality of today’s economy – globalization and technology. Our future is not in competing at the low-level wage job; it is in creating high-wage, new technology jobs based on our skills and our productivity.”

Erm, apologies. That was John Kerry. About NAFTA.

We’ve been down this road before, and unfortunately, the South Korean FTA prospects don’t look any rosier. But developing a consistant, coherent international trade policy, and learning from the past mistakes of NAFTA, aren’t really necessary if you can figure out how to get the left to cannibalize itself.

Sander Levin, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has been on the phone trying to whip support for the bill. Heavy pressure is being brought to bear on United Steelworker President Leo Gerard, in an attempt to keep the AFL-CIO on the sidelines. Getting a rather cheap “give” from the Koreans to the auto industry to buy off the UAW was actually quite clever — because the Steelworkers are also being told that with all the cars that will be sold to Korea, there will be US steel used to make them.

Of course, that’s a crock. Korea would still face a lower tariff — 2% — in the US than the US will face in Korea — 4%.

The deal will devastate the building trade unions, also part of the AFL-CIO, who have been the hardest hit by NAFTA-style trade agreements. Much of their work has been building factories in the midwest, and as those factories get shipped overseas, their jobs have disappeared. In splitting the member unions, the administration hopes to sideline the powerful resources of the AFL-CIO which would otherwise organize to protect the building trades.

And here’s Obama on the South Korea FTA (for real this time. I promise)

“We are strengthening our ability to create and defend manufacturing jobs in the United States, increasing exports of agricultural products for American farmers and ranchers and opening Korea’s services market to American companies.”

If you think this sounds identical to the pro-NAFTA propaganda of the past, you’re right.
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About the author

Allison Kilkenny is a radio host and political humorist, a fancy way of saying writer, who makes shitty world news funny. She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, the Beast, 236.com, and Alternet.org’s Wiretap Magazine. Her work has also appeared on The Nation and she is a regular guest on SIRIUS radio.

She doesn’t care if you’re offended by anything she has written. Further articles can be found at: www.allisonkilkenny.com Allison’s radio show, Citizen Radio, can be found here: Citizen Radio fan page. Citizen Radio is on every Wednesday over at Breakthru Radio.