PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNED the Central American Free Trade Agreement on Tuesday in a White House ceremony made possible in part by 15 House Democrats, who defected from their party's otherwise solid bloc and supported the pact.
There has been a lot of talk about the "CAFTA 15," and their votes could cost them dearly. Union leaders have already pledged to try to oust them in Democratic primaries next year, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is reportedly threatening to yank plum committee assignments.
It's a sad day for the Democratic Party when narrow-minded protectionism has become the litmus test of party loyalty. And it's shameful for California, one of the world's most dynamic economies, that not a single one of its 32 Democratic representatives in the House voted for CAFTA.
It's a worrisome sign that the party has been hijacked by special interests.
As we've noted before, the agreement with five small Central American nations and the Dominican Republic is beneficial to both the United States and Central America. And among the strongest advocates of the deal were industries that employ millions of Californians: the Hollywood studios and high-tech companies such as Intel, Oracle and Hewlett-Packard. How could Howard Berman of West Hollywood and Anna Eshoo of Silicon Valley embrace such an isolationist economic worldview?