A Victory For Underdeveloped Nations

…and a victory for the United States.

The House (narrowly) approved CAFTA:

After an all-day, full-court press by the White House, the House early Thursday narrowly approved the controversial Central America Free Trade Agreement, avoiding a potentially embarrassing political defeat for President Bush on an issue he championed for months.

The final vote to approve the pact was 217 to 215. House leaders held the vote open for an hour — well past the normal 15-minute voting time — as they rounded up enough votes to win.

In the end, 25 Republicans defied their leadership, and their president, to oppose CAFTA, while two others didn’t vote. Only 15 of the House’s 202 Democrats broke ranks to support it….

Supporters said the agreement will improve the economies of those countries, increase the living standards of workers and strengthen fledgling democracies in a region awash in armed conflict 20 years ago.

“These freely elected presidents came to us and said, ‘Help us,'” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-California. “We help them by voting yes on CAFTA.”

Thomas, concluding the night’s debate, also chided Democrats for abandoning their traditional support for free trade.

“They have urged, all night, protectionism. They have urged fear. They have urged that we don’t do what’s right,” he said.

Of course Democrats, being the anti-economic party that they are, came out with their usual arguments against CAFTA:

But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, insisted that Democrats were opposing the pact not because they oppose free trade but because they were against a flawed agreement.

“It is a step backward for workers in Central America and a job killer for here at home,” she said….

But Democrats charged that CAFTA didn’t do enough to protect the environment and workers’ rights and would further erode America’s manufacturing base.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, and the sky was supposed to fall with NAFTA as well, and we all know how that turned out. Why don’t Democrats just admit precisely why they are against CAFTA? They are bought and controlled by unions.

For those of you who still think Democrats understand economics, please read the article above, and tell me which parties statements are more likely to hold water in an economics 101 course. Because from here, the answer seems obvious (Hint: It’s not the Democratic Party)…

Update: For those interested in the economics of free-trade, read this, this, this and this.

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