CAFTA at Midnight

This certainly isn’t good news—Mark Goldberg of the American Prospect reports that the House leadership plans to ram CAFTA through the House late tonight, despite the fact that a majority of the chamber opposes to the treaty. That squares with what Reuters is reporting: “[House Majority Leader Tom] DeLay said Republicans would gavel the CAFTA vote to a close “when we get 218,” the number of votes needed for approval.”

Now DeLay can certainly do what he wants, even if this is a bit thuggish—Lyndon Johnson once showed that some good can come of thuggery, after all—but what’s troublesome is that he’ll probably get the votes he needs to pass CAFTA by including all manner of pork, protectionism, and industry giveaways that will bog down a treaty already bogged down by pork, protectionism, and industry giveaways. (A longer critique of CAFTA’s bogged-down-ness can be found here.) But that seems to be the natural outcome of a party less concerned with crafting good trade policy and more with getting some sort of industry handout passed, with as few Democratic votes as possible, so as to deprive the opposition party of corporate donations. (After all the GOP could have included a few worker protections and won over enough free-trade Democrats to get CAFTA passed without all that craven and harmful pandering to the sugar industry.) If it seems petty, it is.