Sock it to me Baby!
Thank goodness that the Shrub is not too busy waterboarding that he can't stop and save us all from the scourge of cheap Honduran cotton socks!
What's that you say? Honduras is in CAFTA? Surely we can't unilaterally stop exports from a country with which we have a free trade agreement? Of course we can! The deal allows us to put tariffs on apparel items (I believe at the pre-CAFTA levels) "temporarily" if the domestic industry is harmed or threatened. We just have to give them 60 days notice and then announce our final decision.
Supposedly this is all because of one Congressman, Robby Aderholt, who represents Ft. Payne Alabama the erstwhile (and future??) sock capital of the world. He was the swing vote on CAFTA and his price was sock protectionism.
"Why in the world would President Bush go along with reinstating the tariff?(Ed: Because he's a spineless moron?)
There's only one reason: a deal President Bush struck late one night in July 2005.
That July night, Bush met with Fort Payne's congressman, Robert Aderholt, to talk about tariffs and the sock business.
That meeting was, most likely, the moment Aderholt had more power than at any other time in his life. The House was voting on CAFTA, the Central America Free Trade Agreement. The vote was an exact tie. Aderholt was the holdout. And President Bush very much wanted CAFTA to pass. So, Aderholt offered the president a deal: He could get his big free-trade deal only if he rolled back free trade on one industry, the sock industry.
"I told him this was what I needed," Aderholt said. "This was the one thing I had great concerns about."
That night, President Bush agreed to Aderholt's deal. CAFTA passed. And the White House gave itself a self-imposed deadline of Dec.19, 2007, to put back tariffs on sock exports from Honduras.
There is a further bizarre twist to this story. According to NPR, Ft. Payne isn't really hurting from the decline of the local sockmakers:
"Jimmy Durham, the county economic development officer, shows just how grim things have been for the sock business here.
On street after street, he points to buildings that used to house sock mills, most of which are now gone. With all these businesses shuttered, you might think Durham is in despair about the future of Fort Payne. He isn't.
Those closed sock factories are reopening as new businesses.
He points to Steadfast, which makes bridges; Ferguson, a major plumbing supply company; a distribution center for Children's Place; two new metal tube manufacturers; a high-tech label maker. For a town of only 13,000 people, this is a lot of new, good-paying employment. These jobs pay more than sock-making jobs.
In fact, most of 4,000 recently laid-off sock workers quickly found new jobs. It's an irony that reversing this tariff — fought for so hard by some in Fort Payne — will likely have its biggest impact thousands of miles away in Honduras."
Ya, but the bridgemaker and the plumber and the label maker aren't going to be beholden to Rep. Aderholt, now are they? And them damn Hondurans sure aren't going to put money in his coffers either.
So here it is people, in order to save free trade, Shrub was forced to destroy it.Bonus fun fact: Speaking of Vietnam, did you know that William Westmoreland was the son of a textile manufacturer?