Senator Simon Says NAFTA Will Strengthen U.S. Economy
Echoing President Clinton's argument at NAFTA at Jobs and
Products Day that no country can create jobs without expanding
trade, Senator Paul Simon (D-IL) endorsed NAFTA saying "I have
come to believe that NAFTA will strengthen the nation's economy."
Simon noted his vote against fast-track two years ago, but said
he decided upon further reflection to endorse NAFTA. Asserting
that the facts supporting NAFTA were stronger than the politics
of NAFTA, Simon stated that "those of us in the Senate who
believe NAFTA will be good for the United States need to provide
leadership so that our colleagues in the House who are wavering
know that they are not alone. Political prudence for Senators
requires silence. Political leadership requires a stand."
Simon said that in the short-term NAFTA "will create jobs
in the United States and raise the standard of living of most
people in both nations slightly." He disagreed with claims that
NAFTA would cause U.S. plants to move. "The myth that NAFTA will
result in a huge transfer of plants to Mexico is exactly that: a
myth," Simon asserted. "There are economic advantages for that
transfer now that will not be there after NAFTA is approved."
Simon concluded that the "world's economy is moving on. We can
hunker down and let it pass over us as we see our standard of
living decline, or we can welcome the challenge of tomorrow and
the opportunity to work with other nations as we rebuild our own.
NAFTA offers us an opportunity to follow the wiser course."
After his speech at NAFTA Jobs and Products Day, President
Clinton praised Simon's stand, telling Illinois reporters
"everybody knows that nobody pulls Paul Simon's chain -- he
didn't do this for me or anybody else, he did it because he sat
down and thought about it and decided it was the right thing to
do. I think that everybody in America who knows Paul Simon
thinks that he would only do this if he thought it was the right
thing to do and in the interests of the people of Illinois."
Rep. Edwards Endorses; Sees Tide Turning in Favor of NAFTA
Speaking to reporters after meeting with the President on
Tuesday, Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) endorsed NAFTA, saying that the
debate was "a case of the politics of facts versus the politics
of fear." Edwards noted that a recent study by the University of
Texas found that Texas would gain six jobs for every job lost
under NAFTA. "That's good news for Texans," Edwards said. "The
fear that millions of American workers would be hurt by NAFTA,"
Edwards stated, "has been pushed by politicians more interested
in their own future elections than in the future of our country."
"There is still a tough battle ahead in Congress," Edwards
concluded, "but I believe the tide is turning in favor of NAFTA."