NAFTA: Sound, Fury Signifying Absolutely Nothing

Back in the early 1990s, much was made of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Then-President Bill Clinton heralded it as an “opportunity to remake the world” and bring about global peace. We know how that worked out -- one terrorist attack on U.S. soil and two wars in the Middle East later.

Sure, U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada more than tripled since NAFTA went into effect. By 2011, total trade hit $1 trillion. Higher levels of exports don’t amount to anything if they lag the rate of rising imports.

Remember H. Ross Perot’s grand prediction of a “giant sucking sound” resulting from NAFTA? In retrospect, he probably wasn’t that far off, probably closer to true than his 1992 presidential opponents.

A recent Congressional Research Service report looking at NAFTA 20 years later concludes that the controversial trade treaty had a “modest” impact on the United States. In fact, our nation’s trade deficit with its two NAFTA partners actually rose. -- hardly progress.

Who benefited from NAFTA? The U.S. auto industry, allegedly, according to CRS. That is the very industry U.S. taxpayers bailed out as a result of the 2008 recession.

And it certainly didn’t ring in a new era of empowerment in Mexico, where drug cartels reign even more supreme than ever.

Said Clinton back in 1993 upon signing the ratified treaty into law: “For this new era, our national security we now know will be determined as much by our ability to pull down foreign trade barriers as by our ability to breach distant ramparts. Once again, we are leading. And in so doing, we are rediscovering a fundamental truth about ourselves: When we lead, we build security, we build prosperity for our own people.”

More like we’re leading ourselves into peril by pursuing trade treaties such as NAFTA then and the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact now.

Read all about it: