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May 2005   Phyllis Spivey
Counting Southern California CAFTA Votes By Phyllis Spivey


By Phyllis Spivey

The Central American Free Trade Agreement -- CAFTA – is on the move. So coveted by those who would put the U.S. into a European-style hemispheric union, the border-opening, job-killing contract appears to be edging closer to congressional action.

On May 13, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez met with business and government leaders in Mexico to press for support of CAFTA.

The same day, President Bush met in Washington with five Central American presidents and the leader of the Dominican Republic, all signatories to CAFTA. They had been called to the capitol to lobby for CAFTA’s passage and had been there several days before meeting with the president. Foreign presidents asked to lobby American leaders!

Bush, who had met with congressional leaders earlier in the week, assured the visiting presidents he’s taking a hands-on approach to win ratification of the pact.

With pressure for CAFTA building amid reports that Congress might soon vote on the pact, it seemed an appropriate time to check with Southern California members of Congress about their positions on the pact. Because the 218 votes necessary for approval could come solely from the 231 Republicans in the House, it seemed an appropriate time to do a quick survey of selected GOP congressional offices.

Some congressional staffers were open and direct – no equivocation. Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter (52nd District) opposes CAFTA; Congressmen Ken Calvert (44th District) and David Drier (26th District)support it.

Hunter, to his everlasting credit, has consistently voted against such sovereignty-killing trade agreements as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/ World Trade Organization (GATT/WTO), as well as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). Calvert and Drier, on the other hand, voted for the trade agreements and for Trade Promotion Authority(TPA).

(TPA is an unconstitutional process formerly known as "fast track,"in which Congress transfers its negotiating authority to the President and gets back a finished legislative package; it’s voted up or down with limited discussion and no amendments.)

Congressional members Mary Bono (45th District), Jerry Lewis (41st District), Dana Rohrabacher (46th District), and Ed Royce (40th District), according to their staffers, haven’t made a decision about CAFTA. Bono and Royce won’t decide until the White House formally submits the legislation to Congress; Rohrabacher is still "doing research." Cong.Darrel Issa (49th District) is in the "probably will support" category.

Bono’s voting record says she’ll go for CAFTA; ditto for Lewis and Issa. Although Issa wasn’t elected to Congress until after passage of NAFTA and GATT/WTO, he voted for TPA and, according to his staffer, supports free trade because it creates more jobs and is good for the economy.

Rohrabacher has voted right on most major trade issues, but adamantly supported NAFTA’s passage in 1993. As recently as last year,according to his office, Rohrabacher remained a staunch NAFTA backer. Royce’s trade record is also mixed. He voted against NAFTA and GATT/WTO, but voted for TPA Gary Miller’s (42nd District) staff refused to say more than "Leave an address for a written response."

Congressman Chris Cox’s (48th District) office quickly informed that, as Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, he is very busy. During at least three attempts to determine his position on CAFTA, the responses went from "no clue," but he’ll respond by mail, to "check the website for his voting record on trade agreements and "we’ll be happy to pass along your comments." One staffer made it clear that constituents who reside in the district get priority; another suggested leaving an e-mail address.

Cox’s record virtually guarantees his support of CAFTA. He’s a "team" player.

In the end, the survey was neither quick nor entirely conclusive but provided some valuable insights, for CAFTA is a truth test for politicians.

When you know your congressman’s stand on CAFTA, you’ll know whether he or she really wants to solve border problems. A politician who says he opposes illegal immigration, but supports CAFTA is either ignorant or dishonest, because CAFTA, like NAFTA, pledges to open borders. Making illegal immigration legal is not a solution.

Similarly, any elected official who claims to support U.S. sovereignty is not believable if he supports CAFTA. The trade agreement not only subjects America’s policies to international rule, it puts the U.S. into "partnership" with third world countries. Already, working groups from Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. are meeting to devise common strategies on virtually all public policies. CAFTA will extend those efforts to Central America and the Dominican Republic. South American countries will be next and America, as we know it, will cease to exist..

Timing, as they say, is everything. And because the House of Representatives will act on CAFTA before it goes to the Senate, now is the time to contact your congressman and demand opposition to CAFTA. Don’t take "I don’t know; I haven’t seen the legislation yet" for an answer. When the objective is to end the nation state, details in the contract hardly matter. Call your congressman (or woman) toll free: 1(877)762-8762. Don’t delay.