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The CAFTA vote

CAFTA passed the House in a squeaker, and Will Franklin observes that the vote adhered much more closely to party lines than did the NAFTA vote of a dozen years ago.

His chart is interesting, but I'm not really sure that it represents an actual realignment on the issue of trade, or merely reflects the differences you would expect given that NAFTA was pushed by a Democratic president and CAFTA by a Republican.

(Hat tip: Glenn)


I don't know if I think it's solely because of who was pushing CAFTA that the votes fell the way they did. NAFTA has been in place for over ten years now, right? Has it really been even close to the panacea it was supposed to be? I don't know. And the unions had NAFTA to look at and thereby push that much harder this time around. I guess, more than anything, this seems to show that unions don't have quite the political power they once had.

Add to that the fact that the vote was kept open a bit longer than is usual and only until the majority was reached before being slammed shut and I don't know that it would have been so completely party-linish if everyone had voted.

Has it really been even close to the panacea it was supposed to be?

No, of course not. But it also wasn't close to the "giant sucking sound" Ross Perot had predicted either. In the end, both these agreements are hyper-bureaucratic nightmares that all but make a mockery of the term "free trade." Still, to the extent that they result in actual barriers to trade being liberalized to some extent, I think they do more good than harm.

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