Bill Richardson: Was NAFTA a good idea?
Bill Richardson is the Governor of New Mexico and former candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Of Hispanic descent, Richardson was born in Pasadena, California, but spent most of his childhood in Mexico City. Richardson graduated from Tufts University, from which he also received a Masters in International Affairs. In 1982, Richardson was elected to the United States House of Representatives. During his time in the House, Richardson focused on foreign affairs as well as on issues of importance to the Native American community. In 1997, Bill Clinton appointed Richardson United States Ambassador to the United Nations; Richardson left that post in 1998 to become Secretary of Energy. Richardson is known for his "shuttle diplomacy" and has been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Richardson was first elected the Governor of New Mexico in 2003; he was reelected in 2007 in a landslide, earning 69% of the vote. Richardson is the author of two recent books: the campaign autobiography Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life, and Leading by Example: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution.
Question: Was NAFTA a good idea?
Bill Richardson: It was a good idea. I voted for it. I felt at the time that it was gonna be good for the country. It would create jobs. It would reduce immigration. It hasn’t done it. I also thought that the side agreements that were negotiated with NAFTA – that the environment, the air quality at the border would be clean; that there would be job protections – that those would be enforced. They weren’t enforced. The problem with NAFTA is that it failed to live to its expectations. I’m also realistic that you can’t cancel it as the rhetoric that some feel will . . . will get your votes, that that’s not gonna work. What I would like to do is renegotiate some aspects of NAFTA, like some of the trucking provisions, some of the agriculture provisions. But I would rather look at the future and say that in . . . in any trade agreement, I will make it a fair trade agreement. I will look at following international labor core standards like no child labor, no slave labor; that there be provisions for collective bargaining, freedom of association, job parity, wage parity, and environmental protections. But I would try to engage our trade policy in a positive way. That . . . I would do is I would balance our budget. I would invest more in science and technology industries of the future; give them tax incentives so that companies like solar, wind, bio fuels, bio diesel can get – if they pay over the prevailing wage – a tax incentive. And then finally improve our education system. We’re very behind when it comes to science and technology, and science and math. We’re twentieth in the world in science and math to Europe, to other countries that have more engineers. So I would have an affirmative policy besides trying to protect our own workers.
Recorded on: 11/20/07
A good idea that has fallen short of its promise, Richardson says.