House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) informed Republicans this week that she would hold the Colombia Free Trade Agreement hostage until they agreed to billions in new deficit spending that she says is necessary to “stimulate” the economy. Never mind that the checks from the first round of deficit spending have yet to reach consumers. Never mind that passing the free trade agreement would be much more effective then any new spending Congress could dream up. As Nicholas Kristof points out today, free trade is just the kind of stimulus the Colombian economy needs as well:
For seven years, Democrats have rightfully complained that President Bush has gratuitously antagonized the world, exasperating our allies and eroding America’s standing and influence.
But now the Democrats are doing the same thing on trade. In Latin America, it is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who are seen as the go-it-alone cowboys, by opposing the United States’ free-trade agreement with Colombia.
Colombian cities like Medellín were the most dangerous cities in the world in the 1980s and ’90s, but now they are thriving and homicide rates are well below those of some American cities.
One reason is those bouquets you buy, entering duty-free from Colombia. These days Colombia is the world’s second-largest exporter of flowers after the Netherlands, and almost 200,000 people work in the flower industry. Up to 28 cargo planes a day carry flowers from Colombia to the U.S.
Better carnations than cocaine, no?