I think we can officially call a moratorium on the use of the three-word construction “rare bipartisan moment” in discussing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement that’ll almost certainly be passing the House and moving on to the Senate for ratification.
President Donald Trump declared victory on the proposal, which will replace what he has called the “worst trade deal ever made.”
So has House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “This deal is much better than the original NAFTA — and infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration,” the California Democrat said.
In fact, if there was going to be any organized resistance, you’d probably predict it would come from Republican quarters. GOP Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey said the current deal was a “complete capitulation to Pelosi.”
However, Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, while saying that the deal was “imperfect, and some people are concerned about the more recent negotiations,” said the “vast majority” of Republicans would support it in the upper house.
So, Trump happy, Republicans grumbling but content, Pelosi happy. It’s a win for American businesses and American workers. That sounds like something that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could get behind, right?
Nope. The New York Democrat told a community town hall in New York on Saturday she was probably going to vote against the historic agreement.
— Mathias Ask (@MathiasAsk) December 14, 2019
“I am leaning and intending to vote no,” she said, according to the New York Post.
“Folks who, because of our shameful health care system in the United States, cross the border into Canada to try to purchase insulin to bring back” would be threatened by the deal, Ocasio-Cortez told the audience.
This isn’t the first time that Ocasio-Cortez has spoken out against the deal. Back in June, she was one of nine House Democrats who voiced their opposition to the USMCA, writing in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that it “is essentially NAFTA 2.0: while it includes some important improvements from the original NAFTA, critical unfinished business would perpetuate NAFTA’s damage.
“The new text also includes new terms that we oppose, including some that would lock in high U.S. drug prices,” the lawmakers said.
It’s worth noting that only the opinions of eight of the signatories actually matter anymore; former Rep. Katie Hill has returned to California after resigning due to an inappropriate relationship with a young campaign employee, where she’ll presumedly continue railing against revenge porn to anyone who will still listen.
However, the other hard-left Dem who signed the letter along with AOC — fellow “squad” member Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — has also expressed reservations about the plan.
“We have engaged our stakeholders in Minnesota and still have concerns,” Omar said in an email to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. If those stakeholder concerns were enumerated in that email, they remained unshared in the article.
It’s worth noting that the current version of the USMCA, however, omits intellectual property protections for pharmaceutical companies, something that prompted no small amount of querulousness from pharma groups.
I’m not entirely sure what AOC wanted aside from the wholesale importation of Canada’s health care system.
Whatever it is, it’s clear she wasn’t going to get it.
This is essentially the Ocasio-Cortez way — she’s not in Washington to actually vote on things that might be beneficial for people in her district; she wants every high-profile bill to be the Platonic ideal of the perfect piece of legislation from the progressive perspective.
If it isn’t, well, it’s threatening those people who drive to Canada to get insulin. Or something.
The great irony is that when Pelosi did bring a bill to the floor that Democrats said would have lowered insulin prices — H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act — Ocasio-Cortez told members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus that they shouldn’t vote for it until her demands were met.
“I think we need to flex our muscle,” Ocasio-Cortez told reporters about the bill.
They ended up increasing the number of drugs covered under the plan from 35 to 50, according to Stat, reducing the chances of it clearing the Senate from 0 percent to 0 percent. Good work, I guess.
That won’t be replicated here, since everyone else in her caucus is more or less basking in that rare bipartisan glow.
In neither case is she pursuing something that will end in any sort of victory for her constituents. This is all about positioning.
It’s worth noting that the major worry from Democrats thus far seems to be that passing the plan might give Trump an election-year advantage. That’s probably why you see Democrats like Pelosi talking about how “[w]e ate their lunch” in terms of the deal.
That’s not where Ocasio-Cortez is, though. She’s flexing her muscle — and, much like when she flexed her muscle on Amazon, she basically wants to cost American workers jobs.
Thankfully, she probably won’t get anywhere fast.
Author: C. Douglas Golden
Source: Western Journal: AOC ‘Intending To Vote No’ on Trump’s Historic USMCA Trade Deal