|WRAPPING UP THE WTO|
December 3, 1999
Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot discuss the domestic political implications of the WTO summit in Seattle.
JIM LEHRER: And to syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot.
Paul, how do you read the domestic political fallout from Seattle if any?
PAUL GIGOT: Well, it looked like a big fissure opening within the Democratic Party, Jim. Usually on this program mark and I are on... We trade places. I support the president's trade policy and Mark is a skeptic, to say the least. I think it's one of his great achievements, open trade. He took on some of the protectionists in his own party for NAFTA and GATT. I think this week he risked giving it all away.
JIM LEHRER: And why? How?
PAUL GIGOT: Because you saw the organized interests of the liberal Democratic Party, I mean these were not a rag tag bunch out there. This was the AFL-CIO, this was the Machinists, this was the Sierra Club, this was Ralph Nader -- these are people who are going to support Bill Clinton and are going to support the Democrats next fall. And they were out there saying about Bill Clinton's trade policy, "Hell no, we won't go." And Bill Clinton instead of saying you're wrong and this has helped our prosperity and resisting them, he said "I sympathize. You got a point. We're going to bring you in. Who cares if you're demonstrating in the streets? I'm going to give you a policy victory by trying to get your agenda into the world trading organization." I think it is going to do damage his agenda and the free trade cause.
JIM LEHRER: Mark?
|A major political issue?|
MARK SHIELDS: I could not disagree more emphatically. I think the president reflected the reality of this country. I think, Jim, I'll make a prediction which I very rarely do in this show -- the WTO will return as a major political issue in this country within the next election cycle.
JIM LEHRER: Why?
MARK SHIELDS: Why? Because what we've done is we've come to a decision with no public debate, none. I mean, there really -- this has never been -- this is a major thing, Jim. We're talking about the World Trade Organization is a clash with American ideals. Those were American ideals we're talking about where the six-year-old kids in Pakistan are going to be at looms and lathes and whether we have no interest in that, we have nothing to say about it. We're going to turn that over -- our own hegemony, our own national values system to an institution that's unelected, that have private meetings, doesn't allow spectators or reporters? I'm telling you, this is made for a political, political issue.
JIM LEHRER: But what do you say to the Pakistani trade minister and the Brazilian trade minister who were on this program last night who told Margaret, hey, wait a minute -- the AFL-CIO doesn't care about our poor workers; they care about protecting their jobs in the United States?
MARK SHIELDS: I think that is crassly cynical. I don't think the Vatican cares about protecting the AFL-CIO's position. I don't think the AFL-CIO -- these are American ideals. We're not talking about... the people who are there in the streets, not the nihilists or anything of the sort or the ones who were just blowing up Starbucks. I'm talking about people who brought to it a passion and point of view about what American values really are.
JIM LEHRER: American values, Paul?
PAUL GIGOT: It's the third world is now saying look, we want to get into the American value system of free trade and open trade and one buyer/one seller, and you're closing us off, just when we want to do -- just when we want to get our people up to your living standards, and you're doing that in order to pay off a domestic constituency that are your voters. And a lot of these people aren't the working class, these environmentalists. These are well-to-do middle class people who have their own agenda about spreading our environmental laws to Mexico and Bangladesh when they don't want to pass those laws.
|American values in business|
MARK SHIELDS: I will debate that any precinct in America, any precinct in America, with Paul or anybody else and American values are real values. They're authentic values. This has nothing to do with protecting jobs. This is a question of what kind of a world do we want to see. We're in on the creation of a brand-new world. Do we want it built on the carcasses and the broken backs of 6- and 7-year-old children? I don't think so. That is not the kind of American prosperity we want to see exported.
PAUL GIGOT: Well, I think we're seeing right here the debate that is going to develop. You know, I've been to some of those factories. I spent six years in Asia. I've seen the NIKE factories and Gap factories. Those exports here, the people working are a heck of a lot better off than before those factories came. And that's what the kind of development and the kind of increase in the standard of living and prosperity that they want to share in -- and that the United States, as the global leader, has a responsibility to help them share. And until this week, Bill Clinton was on the side of that prosperity. Now he's saying we want to create rules as part of the WTO, that begin to block that.
MARK SHIELDS: Bill Clinton has been undoubtedly a pioneer, the strongest voice we've ever had.
PAUL GIGOT: I give him credit.
MARK SHIELDS: But Bill Clinton is basically saying you can't have free trade on slave labor. And that's what we're talking about. You've got to -- we are the biggest market in the world. If they can't sell here, they can't sell anywhere. We're saying and Americans are saying, I believe, that, look, if you want to come here, you have to do it on a somewhat humane terms. You just can't do it the old way.