"At a time when our economy is struggling to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression, it is unthinkable to consider moving forward with another job-killing FTA," the 110 members of the U.S. House of Representatives said in a letter to Obama.I'm beginning to think many of the Democrats are just giving knee-jerk opposition to the FTA without knowing what's in it or what the prospective benefits (billions of dollars more in American goods sold in South Korea) and challenges are (keeping pace with the competition). That they insist a lack of free trade right now is a reason to oppose a free-trade agreement just doesn't hold water, and they are still roasting those old chestnuts about barriers from nearly two decades ago as if they are still in place.
The letter underscores the battle Obama faces within his own party unless he persuades South Korea to make substantial changes to the agreement it negotiated three years ago with the administration of former President George W. Bush.
Obama has said he wants to resolve outstanding concerns with the pact by November so he can submit it to Congress by early next year, a move welcomed by House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer.
U.S. trade official have identified two main issues blocking the pact: South Korea's restrictions on imports of U.S. beefs, and auto trade provisions of the pact that critics say favor South Korean automakers too much.
It's pretty clear that Obama will have to rely on the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats to get this passed, as President Clinton did with NAFTA (not that I want to compare the merits and demerits of the KORUS FTA with NAFTA, as I think the relative disparities between the US and Mexico make NAFTA an entirely different animal). The rest of the Democrats are too beholden to labor unions which see FTAs as eroding their immediate power instead of providing more jobs in the long run.
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