Democrats in Congress seem poised, perhaps with the blessing of the Obama administration, to take trade policy down a dead-end road by effectively barring Mexican trucks from U.S. highways.
The Senate is debating a spending bill that would kill a project that encourages cross-border trucking, as required by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The issue of Mexican trucks is the bad penny of U.S. trade policy. It doesn’t go away. This has been a crusade of congressional Democrats since the passage of NAFTA more than 15 years ago. And now that Democrats control both houses of Congress and the Oval Office, they have the muscle to get the Mexican trucks off the road.
Never mind that this relentless campaign, which united the Teamsters Union, anti-globalization forces and nativists worried about vanishing borders, violates NAFTA, which opened highways in Canada, Mexico and the United States to truckers from all three countries. Never mind that the whole deplorable debate tarnishes the United States’ reputation as a reliable global trading partner at precisely the moment when our markets need to be as open as possible. Never mind that, in trying to bar Mexican trucks, opponents wound up hurting U.S. truckers, who got soft and lost their competitive edge because unions protect them from foreign workers.
If the foes of Mexican truckers triumph, as appears likely, we would return to how it was before 2007, when the Bush administration launched a pilot program to open U.S. highways to Mexican trucks. Back then, Mexican truckers on long-haul jobs had to unload their cargo within 20 miles of the border and re-load it onto U.S. trucks to complete the journey. That was a sweet deal for U.S. truckers, and it’s part of the corrupt system that has the Teamsters using its political juice to reinstate. Under no circumstances should Congress and the Obama administration act as accomplices.
SOURCE:San Diego Union Trib Editorial