NAFTA WATCH : Persistent, but Wrong


We like some things that Ross Perot, the populist gadfly of U.S. politics, says and does. But when it comes to the historic North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, Perot loses it--and loses us.

The Texas billionaire is determined to help defeat the treaty and has even purchased a half-hour of nationwide television time this Sunday night to speak out against it.

A master of the television sound bite, Perot still insists NAFTA will send U.S. jobs to Mexico so fast it will create “a giant sucking sound.” We can’t understand how a successful Texas businessman can really believe that. Study after independent study--the most recent issued Friday by the State of California’s Office of Planning and Research--has concluded that the freer trade promoted by NAFTA will create many more U.S. jobs than it will eliminate. And the states likely to benefit most are those that already benefit from trade with Mexico, like California and Texas.


It may be Perot just wants to use NAFTA as a political club to keep beating on President Clinton in preparation for another presidential campaign, in 1996. If that’s the case, Clinton has got to start fighting back--and soon. The White House can take a lesson on pushing NAFTA from Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Mulroney used all his political clout to push the treaty through the House of Commons on Thursday, and says he will do the same when it goes before the Canadian Senate. It’s about time Clinton showed the same enthusiasm for NAFTA.