Dick Gephardt on Free Trade
Former Democratic Representative (MO-3); Former Democratic Candidate for President
EDWARDS: I didn't vote for NAFTA. I campaigned against NAFTA. I voted against the Chilean trade agreement, against the Caribbean trade agreement, against the Singapore trade agreement, against final passage of fast track for this president. Gephardt has sent out mailings attacking and identifying all of us and putting us in the same category.
GEPHARDT: Well, you weren't in Congress when NAFTA came up. But you voted for China.
DEAN: I did not vote for NAFTA or the WTO, because I have never served in Congress. But I did support China's entry into the WTO in 1999 because I believed it was an issue for national security. I believe in constructive engagement. That doesn't mean these agreements don't need to be changed. We have stood up for multinational corporations in these agreements, but we have not stood up for workers' rights, environmental rights and human rights. And until we do, trade doesn't work.
GEPHARDT: Look, Howard, you were for NAFTA. You came to the signing ceremony. You were for the China agreement. It's one thing to talk the talk, it's another thing to walk the walk. We've got to get labor and environment in these treaties, when the treaties are before the Congress. That's when it counts.
A: I am for trade and I am for trade treaties that increase trade. I am against protectionism but I am also for training and retraining workers that lose their jobs. I am especially for using trade treaties to increase standards in other countries for workers and the environment. My trade position is often misunderstood. I voted for the WTO and I voted for trade treaties that can increase and enforce standards in other countries.
GEPHARDT: I was against NAFTA & China WTO when it counted. It's easy to say now that we [need proper protections for labor & environment, as my opponents do], but when the treaties were in front of Congress, they voted for them. We need a new trade policy that's optimistic, that raises up standards in other countries. We've got to stop the exploitation of workers across this world.
GEPHARDT: I'm for a progressive trade policy and I will be a president who will lead not only America but the entire world toward a trade policy that will help every business and every worker in the world. That's what we need.
Some of the candidates were saying that they wouldn't be for a trade agreement that doesn't have labor and environmental standards in it. Well, that's what I tried to get in NAFTA. That's what I tried to get in the China agreement. I finally got, at the end of the Clinton administration, an agreement with Jordan that I encouraged that had labor and environmental standards in it.
It will take a long time to get those standards to be realized, but if any human being in this world works for a living, they ought to be treated as a human being. I have been in the villages in Mexico and China. I have seen the raw sewage coming down the middle of the road. We owe this to our fellow human beings.
GEPHARDT: I'm surprised to hear the outpouring of support for standards for the environment and labor in treaties like NAFTA. Most of the candidates here voted for those treaties without proper standards. I took on my own president on this. I thought Bill Clinton was wrong, because we didn't have those standards. We had side agreements that didn't mean anything, but we needed in the treaty. They're right. We do have a race to the bottom.
GEPHARDT: When I'm president, I will try to adjust or change trade treaties that are on the books. Labor, human rights, and environmental concerns need to be in trade negotiations and trade treaties. [Recently] we haven't been able to get those things reflected in treaties whether it was NAFTA or China PNTR. [Then] we have backed off and allowed treaties to go through that do not take care of those problems.
So what's happening today is a race to the bottom. We have jobs leaving [the US] that originally went to Mexico. They're now going from Mexico to China because they can get the cheapest labor in the world in China. This has to end. It's good for no one.
Henry Ford had a statement. It was right when he said it, and it's right today: "I've got to pay my workers enough so there is somebody to buy the cars they are making." This is not complicated. We need a trade policy that reflects that belief.
In 1993, I read the NAFTA agreement and the “side agreements” covering labor and the environment. I shook my head and simply said, “I can’t support NAFTA.” It was obvious the side agreements were on the “side” because the Mexican government didn’t want us to have the ability to stop trade if they didn’t enforce their laws. The side agreements were a hoax.
The day NAFTA passed was one of my darkest in Congress. The treaty was flawed and would endanger our standard of living-not just in obvious, immediate ways but gradually, by changing the competitive structure under which we deal with other countries. The agreements affecting labor & environmental issues are sadly inadequate & lack teeth. Since NAFTA, I really believe things have gotten worse.
For every billion dollars of trade deficit, we lost about 17,000 jobs. Last year our trade deficit was about $150 billion. That is almost 2 million jobs.
Since the end of the Cold War, it has become increasingly obvious that we cannot have successful capitalism around the world unless we are able to spread the infrastructure upon which capitalism relies-the rule of law, human rights, labor rights, governmental transparency, and other fundamentals that we in the U.S. take for granted. It certainly took me a long time to understand this. Ten years ago, it had never occurred to me that a democracy could not have a positive economic relationship with a totalitarian state.
The mission of the Cato Institute Center for Trade Policy Studies is to increase public understanding of the benefits of free trade and the costs of protectionism.
The Cato Trade Center focuses not only on U.S. protectionism, but also on trade barriers around the world. Cato scholars examine how the negotiation of multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade agreements can reduce trade barriers and provide institutional support for open markets. Not all trade agreements, however, lead to genuine liberalization. In this regard, Trade Center studies scrutinize whether purportedly market-opening accords actually seek to dictate marketplace results, or increase bureaucratic interference in the economy as a condition of market access.
Studies by Cato Trade Center scholars show that the United States is most effective in encouraging open markets abroad when it leads by example. The relative openness and consequent strength of the U.S. economy already lend powerful support to the worldwide trend toward embracing open markets. Consistent adherence by the United States to free trade principles would give this trend even greater momentum. Thus, Cato scholars have found that unilateral liberalization supports rather than undermines productive trade negotiations.
Scholars at the Cato Trade Center aim at nothing less than changing the terms of the trade policy debate: away from the current mercantilist preoccupation with trade balances, and toward a recognition that open markets are their own reward.
The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
|Other candidates on Free Trade:
|Dick Gephardt on other issues:
George W. Bush (GOP)
V.P.Dick Cheney (GOP-V.P.)
Sen.John Kerry (Dem.)
Sen.John Edwards (Dem.V.P.)
Ralph Nader (Reform)
Peter Camejo (Reform V.P.)
David Cobb (Green)
Michael Badnarik (Libertarian)
Michael Peroutka (Constitution)