The hostile takeover of Congress is complete. Multinational corporations now officially run Washington.
That's the sad legacy of the U.S. House's shameful approval this past week of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
Like its hideous brother before it - the North American Free Trade Agreement - CAFTA will accelerate the extermination of American manufacturing. The industrial base that built this country into the greatest in history is eroding, and CAFTA will continue the process.
Bowing before the false god of "free trade" - there is no such thing, in reality - the House voted 217-215 to remove obstacles for American firms wishing to relocate plants and jobs to Central America.
A good bit of American sovereignty will move with them.
"That will be left to CAFTA tribunals," Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., warned his colleagues ominously before the vote. "Two Central American judges, pitted against one from the U.S. Our Bill of Rights will not apply to these courts; neither will any 'sunshine law,' and there will be no right of appeal.
"That is a direct insult to the sovereignty of the United States."
Even local government laws that encourage the buying of American goods and services will be subject to overturning by CAFTA officials. In other words, the decisions of county commissions and city councils will be subject to review by these foreign tribunals. U.S. courts will be helpless to prevent it. And foreign firms with interests here will have their actions judged not in U.S. courts, but by CAFTA tribunals - essentially giving foreign firms more rights than homegrown companies.
The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition says that under NAFTA, the United States has lost nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs just in the past five years. The textile region of the Southeast has been, and will be, particularly hard-hit: Since NAFTA's enactment in 1994, 890,600 textile jobs have been lost in the United States - 78,800 in South Carolina, and 86,000 in Georgia.
There is no reason whatsoever to believe that CAFTA will be any friendlier to American workers and manufacturers than has been NAFTA.
And although North Carolina has been even harder-hit than Georgia and South Carolina - 164,300 lost jobs - it was North Carolina Rep. Robin Hayes who provided the swing vote this past week.
Mr. Hayes oddly and openly accepted a clear and present danger to remaining North Carolina jobs in return for a vague and meaningless promise from congressional leaders to restrict Chinese textile imports. That's as foolhardy and damaging a legislative deal as we have ever been witness to.
We fervently pray that North Carolinians will remember Mr. Hayes' sellout, and that the names of all 217 U.S. representatives who agreed to CAFTA - rhymes with "DISASTA" - will be long remembered.