Saturday, June 21, 2008

Obama softens on NAFTA.

In the upcoming Fortune magazine, Barack Obama seemingly has backed off of vow to use the "hammer'' of opting out of NAFTA to force the renegotiation of the trade pact and now says he will seek change through dialogue if he is elected president.

This is a marked change from the stance taken at the debate in Cleveland in the final days of the Ohio primary campaign in March, when Obama agreed with Hillary Clinton when she said the six-month opt-out clause should be invoked on NAFTA to force changes. He said:

I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labour and environmental standards that are enforced

In contrast, Obama dialed back his anti-NAFTA stance in the interview Fortune interview:

Now, however, Obama says he doesn't believe in unilaterally reopening NAFTA. On the afternoon that I sat down with him to discuss the economy, Obama said he had just spoken with [Canadian Prime Minister Stephen] Harper, who had called to congratulate him on winning the nomination.

"I'm not a big believer in doing things unilaterally," Obama said. "I'm a big believer in opening up a dialogue and figuring out how we can make this work for all people.

To some progressives - this is not sitting well. And while I am not a fan of NAFTA, I'm certainly not surprised. Are you?

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