Is Korea is a long way away?

The proposed South Korea Free Trade Agreement has nothing to do with free or fair trade. It’s managed trade as defined in over a thousand pages filled with favors and exceptions for some special interests, while imposing obligations and restrictions on the beleaguered American manufacturing sector. It had been slated for "fast track" passage with the backing of the Obama Administration, establishment Republicans, and multi-national corporate interests. Early February was mentioned as a target for an up or down vote. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), head of the trade subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, even wants "free trade" deals with Korea, Panama, and Colombia to pass together.

Now that's in doubt.

When I recently interviewed Ian Fletcher, Adjunct Fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council about the pending agreement - which will be published shortly in the Jacksonville Florida Observer - he noted that President Obama will "unlikely avoid serious debate on this agreement, and I personally doubt whether it will pass.  The public is getting more skeptical of free trade every day. An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll in September 2010 found 53% of Americans believing free trade agreements hurt the U.S., with only 17% believing them beneficial; the split had been 30% vs. 39% percent in 1999."

Opposition to the Korea deal brings together odd political bedfellows including a majority of Congressional Democrats, Donald Trump, the AFL-CIO, and consumer advocate Ralph Nader. Another key member of the anti-Korea pact (some have called it "Son of NAFTA"), is iconoclast Congressman Ron Paul. In a letter to his House colleagues he wrote: “This act is a sneaky form of international preemption, undermining the critical checks and balances and freedoms established by the U.S. Constitution’s reservation of many rights to the people or state governments.”

That's red meat for recruiting Tea Party partisans to the barricades. And when they discover that taxpayer dollars would actually flow into NORTH Korea through its Kaesong Industrial Complex - a "free-trade-zone" with South Korea - populists with pitchforks will surely take to the talk show airwaves. The Kaesong Industrial Complex manufactures automobile parts, among other products, which are assembled into South Korean cars sold in the U.S. The agreement allows up to 65 percent of the auto parts to be purchased from North Korea, then shipped to the U.S. duty-free.

The Korea Free Trade pact is a sweetheart deal for those manufacturers seeking low wage workers under B1 and B2 visas - specially trained/skilled workers that some corporations say they cannot find here in the U.S. (yeah, right). It's a sweetheart deal for a few Wall Street bankers who benefit from trade deficits. Washington already has a net negative balance trading with Seoul - 10 years running.

It’s a really sweet deal for some power elites.

Which makes it a populist economic fight worth watching.

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Welcome to EP Peter + South Korea Trade Agreement

I'd like to know how many of those "free trade" votes are there in the House and Senate these days?

We're getting questioning on these bad trade deals because anyone who is breathing in America has been watching their consequences in terms of lost jobs, lost manufacturing, offshore outsourcing and greater income inequality.

The problem has been our representatives, especially the executive branch, are only representing special interests who want these for some minor micro-economic short term agenda.

So, they don't listen to the American people, or act in their behalf.

Also, please format your posts please, no raw links. There is a user guide, a FAQ and an admin forum for help. You can email me on any formatting questions.

Nice update though! I did not know the South Korea Trade Agreement would indirectly flow up to North Korea. One would think that would cause those concerned about national security to scream from the rooftops.

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sorry about the raw links -

sorry about the raw links - I've just sworn off typewriters so I have some catching up to do with the newfangled computer things.

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Peter B. Gemma

help, user guide for posts

There are a bunch of tools to help in authoring on here and a good place to start is the user guide. also, if you click the "rich text editor" button that gives a visual editor to help out. Yes, blogs, online press, newspapers all have to deal with formatting correctly and if any of these don't work for you, you can email me and I'll try to help figure out it.

There is also a rating system on EP to move posts to the front page. It's that little arrow on the upper left that only registered users can see and use to promote good posts to the front page. All posts are seen, go out into the wild world of the Internets, but the front page is for particularly in depth content.

I just had to edit your Grassley's Bravado for the same reason, so please take a moment to read the userguide in order to format.
There are 4 basic tags which cover 90% of all things on the Internet and they are also doable via the rich text editor.

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Grassley's bravado

Despite chest thumping GOPers, AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka this week said that fighting pending free trade agreements the U.S. has negotiated with South Korea and Colombia continues to be a “major priority” for his organization.

William Waren, Investment Treaty News concedes:

Even with Republicans gaining control of the House, uncertainties remain about the prospects for FTA (Free Trade Agreement) approval over the next two years. On the Senate side, both Republicans and Democrats will be cautious about taking record votes on such controversial issues before the 2012 elections that will determine party control in the upper chamber. Also, if he seeks congressional approval of new or pending FTAs, President Obama will likely face significant opposition from members of the House Democratic caucus, which will be even more left-leaning and skeptical of globalization in 2011 and 2012. The odds are hard to calculate, but the strong support of the House majority leadership for approval of new FTAs surely will make some difference.

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Peter B. Gemma

Grassley's constituent, Caterpillar

Grassley is a true surprise in pushing for this and I believe it's due to Caterpillar. He told a bold face lie that it means jobs in Iowa. Caterpillar is on this massive rampage to offshore outsource every job they can find, so this bad trade deal sure doesn't mean Iowa jobs.

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Emerging Coalition

Opposition to this agreement is growing on the right. I think there is a real opportunity for a left/right populist coalition to come together to defeat this boondoggle.

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Hype vs. the cold, hard facts of life

The Korea-US trade agreement may contain plenty of assurances it's promoting "free trade," but the actual provisions reveal it's actually another giveaway to politically connected big business.

It reminds me of an unscrupulous listing agent who promises the unsuspecting homebuyer that he's providing "exclusive representation," when in fact the agent steers the buyer toward the agent's properties so he can profit on BOTH sides of the transaction. It's a rigged game, and we, as consumers and workers, get hit both ways.

It's about time we look at results, rather than empty words.

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