Was NAFTA a good idea?
Dennis Kucinich is a Democratic congressman and presidential also-ran. Kucinich graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 1973 with a BA and an MA in speech and communication. He began his political career early: he was elected to the Cleveland City Council at 23, and became mayor in 1977 at the age of 31. After spending much of the 1980's out of government, Kucinich was elected to Congress in 1996; he is currently in his sixth term. In Congress, Kucinich has a staunchly liberal and anti-war record. He is a strong advocate of national health care, clean energy, and an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Kucinich even brought articles of impeachment against Vice-President Dick Cheney, though the bill was killed before it could reach the House floor. Kucinich first ran for president in 2004; he ran again in 2008. In 2003, he received the Gandhi Peace Award, bestowed by the Quaker organization Promoting Enduring Peace. Kucinich is the author of a memoir, The Courage to Survive, as well as a collection of speeches, A Prayer for America.
Question: Was NAFTA a good idea?
Dennis Kucinich: Well of course it was a bad idea. It was a bad idea because NAFTA was written specifically to drive down wages. I mean Ross Perot was right. When he warned America that we were going to lose millions of jobs, he was 100 percent right. He knew what the Democrats at that point weren’t ready to say, and that is that NAFTA was going to cause America to lose millions of jobs because wages would . . . because manufacturers . . . corporations would seek other countries where wages were lower; where workers didn’t have any rights at all; where they could make a bigger profit. Now let’s think about this for a minute. It was a democratic president who passed NAFTA – President Clinton. When he passed it, the Democrats lost the Congress in the next election. Why? Because people just lost confidence that Democrats would protect their wages and protect their jobs. In this election, you have many people running for president who voted for NAFTA, or who supported NAFTA. And I wasn’t in the Congress, but I made my position very clear right from the beginning that there should be no trade agreements unless they include workers rights, human rights, and environmental quality principles. Let’s look at where we are right now. We’ve lost millions of jobs to NAFTA. We’re losing millions more due to China trade. As president, my first act in office will be to cancel NAFTA and get out of the WTO, and to have trade based on those workers’ rights principles; plus protection of the air, the water and the land; environmental principles; plus prohibitions on child labor, trade labor . . . or slave labor and prison labor. So I offer that to you for your consideration because trade is one of those areas where the democratic parties absolutely failed the American people – sold them out. And I’m the one Democrat who understands that workers need a president who isn’t going to be mourning while there’s grass growing in parking lots where there used to grow . . . where they used to make steel, cars, washing machines, bicycles, automotive supplies, and now there’s grass growing in parking lots.
Recorded on: 10/19/07
Kucinich sounds off on the problems of globalization.
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