I was on the PBS News Hour with Jim Kessler of Third Way last night.  We were supposed to be talking about the tax cuts, but the subject switched to Korea Free Trade when Gwen Ifill asked if reversing himself on campaign promises was becoming a pattern for President Obama.

Kessler immediately jumped in and said KORUS was a great deal for the US — just as he said the health care bill was a tremendous “progressive” achievement.

The Third Way Foundation get its funding from (among others):

  • Bank One
  • Citigroup
  • Dow Chemical
  • DuPont
  • General Electric
  • Health Insurance Corporation
  • Merrill Lynch
  • Microsoft
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Occidental Petroleum
  • John M. Olin Foundation

It’s the job of Third Way to use “progressive” rhetoric to mainstream corporatism on the left.

Of course he thinks KORUS is good for the US.  What’s he going to say, the banks that fund his organization are tickled pink the US government won’t be able to pass “too big to fail” laws, or ban risky financial products and services?

Most ironic was his statement at the end of the show that our trade deficit problems are due to China, and this is a deal with Korea, not China.  I didn’t get a chance to respond, but I would have said that this agreement is a backdoor to China Free Trade.

One of the worst parts of the deal is the “rule of origin” provision which says only 35% of goods exported by Korea into the US must be of Korean origin to qualify as “Korean made.” Which means goods can be manufactured with 65% Chinese made parts, and still qualify to enter the US under the agreement’s tariff schedule as Korean goods.

That’s why Matt McKinnon, the Political Director of the Machinists, called this deal the “death knell for all US manufacturing” in a passionate speech before the AFL-CIO’s legislative directors yesterday.   It will dramatically increase the trade deficit, and make it impossible for US manufacturers to compete with an already robust Korean manufacturing base.

Remember, this deal was negotiated by George Bush — Obama just gave it some minor auto tweaks.  It’s being done now because a) the Chamber of Commerce wants it, and b) the US wants a military presence in South Korea.

All that stuff about creating jobs is, as Paul Krugman notes, pure hogwash.