By: Jeffrey Winograd
A seemingly wily congressman from western Massachusetts got carried away with his own verboseness when he lavished praise on the Trump administration’s announcement that the United States plans to enter the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) into force on July 1.
Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, on April 24 sang the praises of the new trade pact which replaces the controversial North American Free Trade Act, better known as NAFTA.
The Irish-American pol spouted more than the typical touch of the blarney one encounters when celebrating Saint Paddy’s Day as he, in effect, placed himself in the leading American role during the negotiation and passage of USMCA.
Neal’s remarks suggested that House Democrats twisted the arm of U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer in order to secure a deal that “now includes the most robust enforcement mechanisms ever incorporated in a U.S. trade agreement.”
Then came the now obligatory Democratic injection of the “COVID-19 crisis” into the picture. The new trade agreement “includes a balanced set of intellectual property obligations that promote innovation, including the research and development of new medical therapies,” Neal said.
The chairman of the House tax-writing committee was a Democratic back-bencher in 1993 when, to his credit, he voted against passage of NAFTA.
However, that was long ago and far away.
In 2016, Neal, a man of great convictions, was an avid supporter of Hillary Clinton for president despite her cast-in-stone position regarding NAFTA.
She Said, He Said, About NAFTA
Clinton was quoted in a May 25, 2011, Huffington Post article as follows:
“I believe in the general principles [NAFTA] represented. But what we have learned is that we have to drive a tougher bargain. Our market is the market that everybody wants to be in. We should quit giving it away so willy-nilly. I believe we need tougher enforcement of the trade agreements we already have.”
Candidate Donald Trump, on June 28, 2016, while campaigning in Pennsylvania, made abundantly clear his intentions regarding NAFTA.
“I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better.”
Should they not agree to negotiate, Trump added, he would notify Mexico and Canada pursuant to the terms of the treaty “that America intends to withdraw from the deal.”
With an eye on the July 1 kickoff of the USMCA trade pact, Neal said “it is critical that the United States holds our trading partners accountable for their obligations from day one.”
He also vowed to be the American watchdog to ensure proper implementation and enforcement going forward.
And here is Neal’s finale, lauding the trade-deal achievement of President Trump …
“I take comfort knowing that there is a new generation of rising House Democratic trade leaders who share my investment in the USMCA’s success and my belief that the deal is the standard upon which future U.S. trade agreements should be built.”
Yes, Congressman Neal, the USMCA is a success, a President Donald Trump success!