Yes, yes, I know: NAFTA's supposed to prevent that sort of thing, but we're having one anyway:
Ricardo Alday, spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington said pressuring politicians by hitting imports from states with key Democratic leaders with tariffs of up to 90 percent "is one the main considerations," for the action, the Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday.
The official list of products has not been released, but a draft obtained by economist Dermot Hayes at the University of Iowa suggest the tariffs will pinpoint almonds from California, sunglasses from Illinois, bowling equipment from Nevada and books from New York -- the home states of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Barack Obama, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
And before you ask: yes, it's because of the bill that Dina Titus (D-NV) said that she read.
That bill, we now discover, contains, among other depth charges, a Teamster-supported provision inserted by Sen. Byron Dorgan that terminates a Bush-era demonstration project to allow some Mexican trucks onto American highways, as required under NAFTA.
If you thought the AIG hysteria was a display of populist cynicism directed at a relative triviality, consider this: There are more than 6.5 million trucks in the United States. The program Congress terminated allowed 97 Mexican trucks to roam among them. Ninety-seven! Shutting them out not only undermines NAFTA. It caused Mexico to retaliate with tariffs on 90 goods affecting $2.4 billion in U.S. trade coming out of 40 states.
The problem here is twofold. First off, the American political party currently running the government acted incredibly irresponsibly in hyping up a misnamed "stimulus" bill that is instead turning out to be just one delayed time bomb of special-interest idiocy after another. There's a thousand pages of this stuff, just waiting to go off... and not even the Democrats themselves know which will be the next scandal. This isn't even good internal politics: every Democrat who voted "yes" for this monstrosity is going to have spend the next two years explaining why he or she voted for [Stupid Thing N] - and why that shouldn't be considered evidence that he or she should be spending more time with his or her family. It's so bad that I'm almost sympathetic to their plight; then again, nobody forced them to elect Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House.
The second problem is that our current President (being a Democrat) wants to be a domestic-affairs President. That's not a criticism. What is a criticism is that he apparently hasn't internalized the thought yet that very little, if anything, that the President of the United States does domestically doesn't have a foreign-affairs element to it. I sincerely doubt that the President intended to start a trade war with Mexico; he just decided that the risk of having one was less than the risk of getting between a lot of powerful Democrat-allied special interest groups and a ridiculous amount of money. We're now seeing why this was a bad decision; one hopes that President Obama learns the right lessons from it.
In the meantime: my sympathies to Californian almond growers, Illinoisan sunglass-factory workers, Nevadan bowling ball manufacturers, and New Yorker book-binders. And everybody else who's just gotten slapped with a tariff in the middle of our economic meltdown.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.