On October 1, the world absorbed the news that President Trump had carried through on a campaign promise. He’d replaced “NAFTA” (1994's “North American Free Trade Agreement”) -- which had absolutely nothing to do with free trade – with a new “treaty” called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, for short.
Many commentators, including special interest group protectionists and some college “economics” profs applauded, calling the “treaty” a step towards improving “American Competitiveness.” And Democrats seemed upset.
But there are three problems with that belief.
First, it’s not a treaty. Just as Barack Obama was trying to do with the various climate agreements from Paris to Kyoto, USMCA is what politicians in D.C. are calling an “Executive Agreement,” the provisions of which will be brought up as statutory creations in the House this spring, and implemented as laws.
Second, those laws include a heck of a lot more than lowering of tariffs. In some cases, tariffs and quotas remain.
Yes, USMCA did lower Canadian blocks against U.S. dairy, but -- get this -- the Canadian government will maintain quota limits on the amount of “imported” media content Canadian citizens can procure. (I experienced the threat of their protectionism when I was at the Script Department of a TV series being produced in Vancouver, and, let me tell you, it’s an unnerving thing to know that one’s position can be snatched away at any time depending government diktat.)
In other words, USMCA is not a treaty, and certainly not a free trade treaty.
And, to cap it off, the bulk of Democrats in D.C. actually support USMCA…
…because it gives them even more power to “regulate” U.S. businesses.
As Christian Gomez writes for The New American, now that the Dems anticipate control of the House, they seem almost giddy about this unconstitutional “Treaty”/agreement. And that’s because it has hidden within it all manner of business regulations that all three nations can impose on innocent entrepreneurs in their nations.
Despite misleading media headlines of Democrats jeopardizing or rejecting the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), Democrats are seeking stronger enforcement of the USMCA, particularly for its new progressive chapters on labor, the environment, and workplace-based discrimination for LGBTQ employees.
If the GOP doesn’t pass the legislation to implement the USMCA prior to January, when the Dems take control, the implementation statutes will be much more onerous for U.S. businesses, infecting the economy with even more “regulations” that politicians call “protections,” regulations that are unconstitutional, interfere with the right to freely contract, and damage market decisions.
When it comes to the more progressive elements of the USMCA, such as the recognition of the “right to collective bargaining,” adherence to the International Labor Organization standards, advancement of “sustainable development,” compliance with the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty, and strong workplace protections (sic) for LGBTQ employees, progressive Democrats are eager to jump on board and make sure that these provisions are strongly enforced.
This is an untenable situation. And Gomez amplifies:
Although the governments of Mexico and Canada regard the USMCA as a treaty under international law — just as they both did with the original 1994 NAFTA — the United States considers both trade deals as “executive agreements,” thus forgoing the constitutional requirement of a two-thirds vote in the Senate (67 Senators) for ratification. As an executive agreement under “fast track,” or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), no amendments will be allowed to the text of the agreement, debate will be limited, and only a simple majority will be needed to pass it. What Congress does get to do, however, is write the implementation legislation, in which they change whatever domestic laws need to be changed in order to comply with the terms of the agreement and determine how they will enforce it.
So Americans who believe in freedom and real free trade are stuck. They either can hope the GOP-led Congress/Senate combo-pack passes the lighter implementation statutes before January, thereby installing an unconstitutional set of rules that have nothing to do with free trade, or they can wait for the Democrat-led Congress to expand the implementation statutes, thus making them even more onerous on American business people and consumers.
A false choice.
That’s what government always offers. And that’s not choice.
A real free trade agreement doesn’t include “implementation” legislation, or punishment, or quotas, or any kind of government controls over business. It eliminates them.
The key term there is “free.” It’s about freedom, the freedom of consumers to buy, and of sellers to sell, what they desire, peacefully, without the robust and ribald obnoxiousness of politicians deciding for them how they should live their lives and spend their money.
What a crazy notion.