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CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight-Transcript


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DOBBS: Democratic leaders still under fire for approving a compromise with the Bush administration on free trade. Critics saying that deal hurts American workers and defies the traditions of the Democratic Party. Many of those critics, Democrats themselves, leading Democrats.

Among them, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Congressman Brad Sherman of California, joining us tonight from Capitol Hill.

Good to have you here.

Let me start, if I may, with you, Congresswoman Kaptur. What is going on? Because this deal is conducted in secrecy. Where are we headed here?

REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO: We're not headed in a very positive direction, Lou. The Ways and Means Committee chairman and the chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade very quietly, evidently, negotiated agreements with the Bush administration on Peru and Panama, and they didn't -- and they did it in a way that they didn't inform the members, they didn't invite our participation.

The administration really negotiates the agreement that they were reaching some type of policy compromises with the administration with no sunlight. And so we were presented a fait accompli, and we still do not have the documents before us.

DOBBS: Well, Congresswoman Kaptur is on the committee -- the subcommittee you chair, Congressman Sherman. I mean, where is the leadership here? Are we headed toward approval of fast-track authority by this Democratic Congress, which was elected in part to represent the middle-class working men and women in this country last November?

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I sure hope not. And I know that the Bush administration is ready to make a whole bunch of what they consider to be concessions, but they are concessions that will be illusory, concessions that will never be enforced. And I hope very much that there is no move to bring fast track to the floor.

When I say fast track, we have already got these four agreements that under law come to the floor for a vote and we'll probably pass...

DOBBS: South Korea, Colombia, Panama and Peru. Correct?

SHERMAN: Yes. And some of them may pass, chiefly with Republican votes. But fast track is a bill that opens the door to more of these agreements, beyond those four.

DOBBS: Another five years of what we've had.

SHERMAN: Exactly. And you can put a little lipstick on the pig, it's still a pig. And we should not have fast track on the floor.

If it ever were to come to the floor, most Democrats would vote against it. But the key for us is to not even have it come to the floor.

DOBBS: Congresswoman Kaptur, you and Congressman Sherman represent the conscience of the Democratic Party on trade, working men and women of this country.

What does your leadership say? What is the speaker saying? Speaker Pelosi? What -- Steny Hoyer? And of course, Charlie Rangel, who I've talked with and I'm still not sure where he stands on fast track?

REP. MARCY KAPTUR, (D) OHIO: Well, Speaker Pelosi left the meeting today. She did say she that if members wanted to speak with her about it, she was available for that. I think its important that Democrats across this country and Republicans across this country and Independents across this country who know that trade is not working for America. It is not working for the middle class, we continue to see more outsourced jobs. If you look at the oil industry, there is a global industry for you. Look what's happening to gas prices in this country. We are not in charge of our own future. We have to speak out and get trade agreements here that give us a new model for trade and stop outsourcing our jobs.

DOBBS: Congressman Sherman, your thoughts? You get the last word here tonight.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN, (D) CALIFORNIA: Well, we in -- people in Washington have been talking about labor standards and environmental standards. First this agreement doesn't provide enforceable standards. Nothing gets enforced unless Bush wants to take an action adverse to a multinational corporation. I don't think that's going to happen.

DOBBS: He's been very aggressive. His administration has been very aggressive in the first six years.

SHERMAN: The second thing is, that what Americans want is not just environmental and labor standards in Peru, we want to eliminate the trade deficit and fast track isn't going to do that. In fact, the Korea deal, the administration already admits, means more jobs going to Korea.

DOBBS: Alright, well we thank you very much as always. Thank you both. Congresswoman Kaptur and Congressman Sherman, thank you.

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