Skip to comments.LaTourette voted on CAFTA before getting tariff report
Posted on 08/15/2005 10:15:16 PM PDT by hedgetrimmer
Washington- Don't blame President Bush's trade ambassador.
Yes, he urged Rep. Steve LaTourette to support the controversial Central American Free Trade Agreement. And LaTourette in the end did, voting with colleagues in the middle of the night and surprising scores of people who had believed him when he said he intended to vote no.
But U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman apparently is touchy about how people see his role in a matter that has blown up in LaTourette's face. And as the week ended, he let people know it.
A Plain Dealer examination last week showed that the Lake County Republican's explanation for his July 28 vote was built upon a set of phony reasons.
LaTourette had said he voted for CAFTA in order to eliminate plywood tariffs that were squeezing KraftMaid, the Middlefield- based kitchen cabinet maker. Without some relief, LaTourette said, KraftMaid might have to move jobs out of the United States.
LaTourette's office said the congressman based this belief not only on a conversation with KraftMaid president Tom Chieffe the afternoon before the vote, but also on a document listing base tariffs, provided by Portman's office after the Chieffe conversation.
That document made it appear as if KraftMaid and others are indeed paying 8 percent tariffs on the plywood they import from Central America.
But The Plain Dealer documented that due to other trade regulations, Central American plywood already is exempt from tariffs due; that no company is getting dinged, let along squeezed, by such purported tariffs, and that those who relied on lists of base tariffs from Port man's office would be mistaken.
That caused Portman, like LaTourette, to get some unwelcome attention.
And so Portman, who lives in Cincinnati when not in Washington or traveling, on Friday called into "The Whistleblower," a widely read Cincinnati-based Web log, according to Jim Schifrin, the blog publisher.
Portman apparently wanted it known that he had not "arm- twisted" LaTourette, as the blog suggested Thursday when mentioning The Plain Dealer story. The blog is widely disseminated by e-mail.
In fact, according to Schifrin, Portman told him that it was not until well after the CAFTA vote that Portman's office sent LaTourette the document that listed base tariffs.
Portman's press secretary, Neena Moorjani, confirmed the same to The Plain Dealer, and said the document wasn't sent until Aug. 5 - eight days after the CAFTA vote.
That's a far cry from LaTourette's staff-written statement that said LaTourette asked Portman about the issue before the vote and that Portman's office "provided the congressman with a document . . ." The statement failed to mention that LaTourette's office asked for the document more than a week after the fact.
LaTourette's district director, Dino DiSanto, late Friday acknowledged that LaTourette did not have the document from Portman at the time of the vote. But he said LaTourette had basically the same information because his office had looked it up on the trade representative's Web site.
"I think getting information from the Web site is what we did," DiSanto said. He acknowledged the office only sought the hard document from Portman's office after The Plain Dealer started asking about the tariff issue.
This all might appear nit-picky - whether a Web site or a hard document, it's all data - but it apparently matters to Portman. The Whistleblower, after all, is read by a lot of people in his hometown.
Portman's point, says Schifrin, was that if the information on tariffs was sent after the vote, "how could it have been made to influence the vote"
That doesn't mean, however, that Portman didn't try to twist LaTourette's arm some other way. LaTourette said in an interview after the CAFTA vote that Portman's office had called to ask if LaTourette wanted anything, implying that perhaps a bridge or construction project might be available for his district. LaTourette insisted his vote was not for sale.
Whether he ultimately will get something - or whether he gave away his vote - is one of the many questions surrounding the matter. So far LaTourette has avoided making a personal comment, having been in Alaska on a congressional trip and then going on vacation last week. KraftMaid's Chieffe, for two weeks, has declined through a spokeswoman a request for an interview or comment. Chieffe's boss at parent company Masco Corp., Richard Manoogian, a major Republican Party donor, also will not comment.
Told the tale of the document, Chris Slevin, a critic of the LaTourette vote, maintained that Portman and his office still were not absolved for LaTourette's faulty information, because "it's clear the information they provided was misleading," even if it was provided later.
"But," added Slevin, deputy director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, "I think the responsibility still lies with the congressman to research the facts before casting a vote."
2. a document listing base tariffs, provided by [USTR]Portman's office ... made it appear as if KraftMaid and others are indeed paying 8 percent tariffs on the plywood they import from Central America.
3.due to other trade regulations, Central American plywood already is exempt from tariffs due; that no company is getting dinged, let along squeezed, by such purported tariffs,
4.Portman told him that it was not until well after the CAFTA vote that Portman's office sent LaTourette the document that listed base tariffs
5. LaTourette did not have the document from Portman at the time of the vote. But he said LaTourette had basically the same information because his office had looked it up on the trade representative's Web site.
6.after the CAFTA vote that Portman's office had called to ask if LaTourette wanted anything, implying that perhaps a bridge or construction project might be available for his district.
CAFTA-- lies and bribes lead to passage.
If you want on or off the list, let me know.
The reason lies and bribes seem to be what paved the way for CAFTA is because the majority of Americans are not nationalists that understand America will be made or broken by foreign investment into our corporate companies. We must allow inefficeint markets such as farming to fade itself out instead of allowing the government to subsidize money losing industries.
Oh, yes. Always a good idea to allow other countries to supply us with frivolous items like FOOD. Good grief, have any of you people ever read a history book??
Or (and more likely) why doesn't the U.S.A. as an entity matter to you?
Hopefully, the good Congressman got the courtesy of a reach .....d.
I bet you also oppose the cheap labor Mexicans provide us. The fact is if we allowed the market to be efficient and let employers determine how to run their business then we would still have steel in America. But, we let unions get in our way and drive business out of the country because of the cost of operation. The fact is we can cut down the percentage of our income that we spend on the items that don't help us gain ground in the world market. I believe this will help American big business grow and expand its horizons around the world.
Central and South America will never gain much influence by selling Food and Cheap Labor. As long as we gain ground in the technology other countries will depend on to grow out of a 3rd world nation, we will remain a powerful world force. The fact is, trade barriers is over regulation. If we passed a fair tax along with Free Trade agreements, America will attract many investors that will save the USD against the unified Euro.
Did you ever take a civics class?
So you blame companies that move out of America because of high costs, now you blame the government on trying to lower the cost for thee business'
I'm a nationalist so I was very disturbed afterward.
No, I opposed "government-subsidized" illegal immigrant labor. You know, the type where employers pay a third world wage, knowing that taxpayers will fund healthcare, education, etc. etc. etc.
The fact is we can cut down the percentage of our income that we spend on the items that don't help us gain ground in the world market.
There is nothing that we do that cannot be done by slaves elsewhere in the world for less money. And support for forfeiting defense-related industries (like steel); or basic necessities like food is idiotic.
Why you globalists continue to blather this utopianism in the face of the perfect example of what happens when you rely on other countries for basic necessities is beyond me. I am of course, talking about oil. What do you think would happen if we got into a major war having given away our steel industry?
The reason our steel industry went out of business is because labor was too expensive. Many other industries are facing the same difficulty while housing has couped by using cheap labor. And the fact is, the only way our Oil companies and Universities can find an alternate energy source is by relying on investments.
We must allow American big business to operate as efficiently as possible while we are in the transition stage of entering a world economy.
Just posted, and written with you in mind. The most brilliant conservative economist alive writes:
Read it and weep regarding illegal immigration. Or you would if you were conservative (which you are obviously not).
i guess Bush isn't a conservative either huh?
LaTourette? isnt that the teacher that married the kid? or am I thinking of Latourette's syndrome?
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