Panhandle (W.Va.) Grassroots for Democracy

The Panhandle Grassroots for Democracy is working to improve our corner of eastern West Virginia, our state and our nation.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

CAFTA and West Virginia

Good article in the Charleston Gazette about the push for CAFTA and the effect it'll have on West Virginia.
Congress is likely to vote on whether to approve the Central American Free Trade Agreement before the end of the month.

On Friday, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, called CAFTA the “big ticket” item on the House agenda next week, which is strongly backed by President Bush.

Proponents argue CAFTA will promote trade and help some local businesses, especially farmers in West Virginia.

Critics point to the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed by President Clinton in 1993, which eliminated many trade barriers with Mexico and Canada and ended up costing Americans more than a million jobs.

“I just read in the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s newsletter that West Virginia workers are the fourth-best in terms of giving productive hours to their employers,” Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., said on Friday.

“CAFTA says to these hard-working folks, ‘It doesn’t matter. We want to open the doors for corporations to throw up tin sweat shops south of the border, and they can take advantage of people less trained, less seasoned, with less health and safety measures and you can undercut American jobs.’

“Call it NAFTA, CAFTA whatever. It’s all about ‘shafta,’” Rahall said.

Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., said, “I will oppose CAFTA for the same reason that I have opposed every free-trade agreement to come before the Congress: they are simply not in the best interests of my district.

“Pitting a country with a high standard of living against one with a low standard of living will always hurt the country with the high standard of living. Pursuing free-trade agreements without any appreciation for that reality, or without any sympathy for the workers and communities adversely affected, is a formula for disaster.”

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has not yet made up her mind about the pending legislation.

R.C. Hammond, Capito’s spokesman, said on Friday, “She has not determined how she will vote. She has received letters from her constituents and is considering them now.”

Democrats Rahall and Mollohan are for the working people of West Virginia. And where's our Tom Delay Republican, Capito? Will she once again put the Republican Party ahead of the people of West Virginia? Considering her past voting record in support of corporate fat cats over regular folks, she'll vote as the corrupt Tom Delay tells her to vote.

UPDATE: For once she voted for West Virginians! She voted no even though her party voted almost unanimously for it and it passed by two votes.

Either enough of us sent a message to her that it broke through her reality-deflecting shields or else she's more worried about her chances for re-election in 2006 than we realized. However, kudos for her. She joined the state's Democrats -- Byrd, Rockefeller, Rahall and Mollohan -- in voting no to CAFTA.


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