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General News    H4'ed 12/17/19

NAFTA Replacement: A Stroke Of Political Genius Or Another Corporate Sell-Out?

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One of the ways Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination for president, and ultimately the White House, in 2016 was his opposition to other GOP contenders on Medicare, Social Security, healthcare, and the Iraq war.

While the other Republican candidates proudly stood on their desire to slash and ultimately eliminate these "Socialist" programs, Donald Trump puffed out his chest and took traditionally Democratic positions on their preservation, even expansion.

These are the same stances that rocketed Vt. Sen. Bernie Sanders to popularity.

The difference is, Sen. Sanders has for decades argued for Medicare-for-all and an expansion to Social Security. Donald Trump, on the other hand, contradicted the other Republicans because of social welfare programs' popularity with the majority of the American people, Republican and Democrat alike.

We now know this was all classic Trump opportunism.

If he ever had any sincere intention to expand Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, Trump quickly reversed course upon taking the oath of office.

But another issue that factored significantly with the American people, and the mainstream media virtually ignored, regarded trade.

Republicans own the "free trade" deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China that have decimated the American manufacturing base.

The majority of Democrats have, by and large, opposed them.

Trump promised to "re-negotiate" these deals instead of lying about how they've strengthened the economy.

Sincere or not, Trump was at least correct about the damage these trade deals have done.

Last week, Canadian, Mexican, and American government officials signed a revision to NAFTA, seeking to improve worker rights' protections, and eliminating a patent provision that tamps down prices for biologic drugs.

But before we give Trump all the credit (which he will undoubtedly claim), we must understand how "do-nothing" House Democrats were able to counter the talking point they are unable to impeach and legislate at the same time, and pushed through a more progressive, pro-union alternative.

The three countries agreed to the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) last October, but the Democratically controlled House of Representatives raised concerns about how it enforced labor and environmental standards.

The re-write at the time failed to resolve American tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum exports.

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Ted Millar is a writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Straight Forward Poetry, Better Than Starbucks, the Broke Bohemian, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices (more...)

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