Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs
TRADE TALKS
John R. MacArthur, photo by Robin Holland
Watch Video
Read Transcript
Comment
May 18, 2007
On Thursday, May 10, 2007, Democratic Congressional leaders and the White House announced that they had made a breakthrough on a new trade deal.

"Today marks a new day in trade policy so that we can raise living standards in the U.S. and abroad, expand markets, spur economic growth and uphold strong labor and environmental standards," declared Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her press statement.

And the press quickly reported on the alleged bipartisan agreement:
  • WASHINGTON POST: "Democrats are the main beneficiaries of a deal with the Bush administration's trade negotiator."

  • MIAMI HERALD: "Faced with the reality of a Democratic majority in Congress, the Bush administration agreed to major concessions to put its trade agenda back on track"

  • THE NEW YORK TIMES: "...the Democrats got significant concessions from the Bushies, while effectively giving a go-ahead to only two minor free trade agreements."
But author and journalist, John R. MacArthur and others were puzzled how so many newspapers and pundits could report "definitively" on an agreement whose official language had not yet been released.

"Take a look at who embraced it: the media, the pundits, the elites - the heads of banks and of investment banks, and the leadership of the two parties. That's not the people. The people are sold this idea of free trade over and over again, as though it were good for them," explains MacArthur in his interview with Bill Moyers.

John R. (Rick) MacArthur has been the president and publisher of HARPER'S magazine since 1983. His first book, SECOND FRONT: CENSORSHIP AND PROPAGANDA IN THE GULF WAR was a finalist for the 1993 Mencken Award for books and won the Illinois ACLU's 1992 Harry Kalven Freedom of Expression award. MacArthur's follow-up in 2000, THE SELLING OF "FREE TRADE": NAFTA, WASHINGTON, AND THE SUBVERSION OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, has been equally praised by critics.

References and Reading:
Read Selected Articles Mentioned In This Story:
  • "Bipartisan deal puts trade back on track" by Pablo Bachlet, MIAMI HERALD, May 11, 2007.
    "Democrats are the main beneficiaries of a deal with the Bush administration's trade negotiator."

  • "Bipartisan Trade" Editorial, WASHINGTON POST, May 12, 2007.
    "Faced with the reality of a Democratic majority in Congress, the Bush administration agreed to major concessions to put its trade agenda back on track."

  • "Labor, Drugmakers Not Sold on New Trade Accord" By Kim Chipman, BLOOMBERG, May 12, 2007.
    "[The deal] also applies to pending deals with Colombia and South Korea, that Democrats say need more review."

  • "Path Is Cleared for Trade Deals" By Peter Goodman and Lori Montgomery, WASHINGTON POST, May 11, 2007.
    "Analysts said the compromise essentially ensures congressional passage for the pending trade deals with Peru and Panama."

  • "Bush and Democrats in Accord on Trade Deals" By Steven R. Weisman, THE NEW YORK TIMES, May 11, 2007.
    "[The deal] has immediate importance for four countries - Colombia, Panama, Peru and South Korea - that are seeking to enter into trade pacts with the United States. But officials in Washington predicted that the agreement's effect would go beyond those countries and could be a template for all trade deals, including a possible worldwide accord."
Trade Deal Back Story:

Read the letter from Six Fair-Trade Democrats to House Democractic Leadership, May 10, 2004.
"Chairman Rangel has agreed to obtain consent from leadership before announcing any deal with the Administration. However, we request that the leadership reserve judgement on whether or not to accept this deal until members of the Caucus have had the opportunity to read and discuss the proposed text and form a Caucus consensus on how to proceed." (PDF)

Baucus, Rangel form PAC, by Alexander Bolton, April 17, 2007, THE HILL.
"House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) have set up a joint fundraising committee to collect political contributions they are receiving from lobbyists hoping to win the lawmakers' favor."

Speaker Pelosi on the Trade Deal.
"Today marks a new day in trade policy so that we can raise living standards in the U.S. and abroad, expand markets, spur economic growth and uphold strong labor and environmental standards."

Senator Dorgan on the Trade Deal.
"But this is kind of a Rip Van Winkle moment again. We have an announcement of surging trade deficits, and the Congress just sleeps through it, the White House sleeps through it. Instead of deciding there is a crisis we ought to deal with, we now see a bunch of people going to the White House and embracing, saying: We have got a new agreement between House leaders and the President with respect to how we are going to proceed on certain trade agreements."

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll on Trade

Read a chapter from THE SELLING OF "FREE TRADE" by John R. MacArthur

Read articles by John R. MacArthur from HARPER'S Online.

MAPLight.org - Money and Politics: Illuminating the Connection
"MAPLight.org brings together campaign contributions and how legislators vote, providing an unprecedented window into the connections between money and politics. They currently cover the California Legislature and U.S. Congress."
Related Media:
WATCH "Buying the War": How did the mainstream press get it so wrong?

NOW with Bill Moyers: Trading Democracy
Watch clips from Bill Moyers 2002 special about NAFTA and Chapter 11.

Published May 18, 2007

Photo by Robin Holland

Also This Week:

MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL
Princeton's Melissa Harris-Lacewell on the trouble America has talking about race.

BRUCE BAWER
Author, Bruce Bawer, on escaping Christian fundamentalism in the United States only to be confronted by Islamic Extremism in Europe.

TRADE TALKS
Bill Moyers talks with author, John R. MacArthur about recent trade talks in Congress.

WATCH last week's show
EXPLORE the archive
TALK BACK: THE MOYERS BLOG
Our posts and your comments
OUR POSTS
YOUR COMMENTS
For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

© Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ   
SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES AND PODCASTS EMAIL US