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Bush to Push for Colombia, Panama, Korea Trade Agreements

6:03 PM, May 7, 2008 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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The president made clear today in his comments before the Organization of American States that he will continue to press ahead for Congressional consideration and passage of outstanding trade deals:

Yesterday I met with the President of Panama. I assured him our efforts to get the Panamanian trade bill passed will be just as vociferous and vigorous as our efforts to get the Colombia trade bill passed. Congress must understand they have a chance to spread prosperity in our neighborhood; they have a chance to support friends in our neighborhood. And there's no better way to express that friendship than to support the Colombia free trade agreement, the Panamanian free trade agreement, and while they're at it, to send a clear message around the world that the South Korean free trade agreement is good for the U.S. economy as well.

Each of these trade deals is good for the U.S. economy -- reducing barriers to our exports and giving consumers more choices and better prices when they make purchases. That's reason enough to continue to press ahead for passage.

Beyond that however, it's good politics. As things now stand, the Democratic leadership in Congress will never give the president a fair shot to win passage of these accords. Their preference is effectively to kill the deals by never allowing them to see the light of day. That being the case, the president has an incentive to force the question on Congress in each instance, and make the Congressional leadership take responsibility for inaction.

As the election approaches, we'll see if Democrats in Congress really are content to insult Panama and Korea, as well as Colombia.