The AFL-CIO and their allies in the environmental and human rights movement worked very hard to defeat the White House and Congressional Republican drive to win passage of legislation granting China Permanent Normal Trade Relations status. Despite months of organizing by a broad coalition of groups opposing the measure in Congressional districts and intense lobbying on Capitol Hill, the bill passed on a 237 to 197 vote.
The bill, which is expected to soon pass in the Senate, will do away with the annual Congressional review of China's human and labor rights record. With China's lower labor and environmental standards U.S., unions and their allies fear that this trade bill will hasten American industry's re-location to China and pit worker against worker in a contest that will drive down wages.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Thea Lee, AFL-CIO assistant director of public policy, who assesses why the labor movement failed to stop passage of the U.S./China trade pact and the battles over corporate globalization that lie ahead.
Contact the AFL-CIO by calling (202) 637-5000 or visit their Web site at www.aflcio.org
As President Clinton considers whether or not to deploy a limited missile defense system later this year, the issue of national nuclear policy has become a focus of the 2000 race for the White House. Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, looking to bolster his foreign policy credentials, recently proposed that the U.S. build a missile defense system far larger than that being contemplated by the Clinton Administration. Bush Jr. envisions a national missile defense system similar to the "Star Wars" program first proposed by Ronald Reagan. His system would cover all 50 states and could be extended to protect allies across the globe. The Texas governor says he would scrap the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty if the Russians didn't agree to change it, while making large unilateral cuts in the numbers of U.S. nuclear weapons.
Backers of these various plans, estimated to cost between $60 billion and $120 billion, say it will protect America from missile attacks launched by so-called rogue states such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq. But Russia, China and many U.S. allies oppose deployment of all missile defense systems -- declaring it will spark a new global nuclear arms race between well-established nuclear powers and states like India and Pakistan.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Luke Warren, media director with the Council for a Livable World Education Fund, who examines Governor Bush's recent policy pronouncements on U.S. nuclear arms issues.
Contact the Council by calling (202) 546-0795 or visit their Web site at www.clw.org
In recent years, conservative politicians and activists have been actively campaigning to partially privatize the nation's public school system. Dozens of state and federal proposals have been made to provide parents with vouchers or tax credits to enroll their children in private or religious schools. Advocates of these measures assert that privatization is the best solution to assist students in failing public schools.
But critics point out that the prime beneficiaries of such legislation are the wealthiest sector of society. Opponents say that rather than funding programs to reduce class size, hire skilled educators or rehabilitate decrepit school buildings, these proposals would use tax money to help the rich while abandoning our public school system. Several recent decisions in state and federal courts have struck down voucher programs in Florida, Maine, Vermont, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Elliot Minceberg, vice president with People for the American Way, who explains why many teachers and parents are working together to oppose school voucher and tax credit programs.
Contact People for the American Way by calling (202) 467-4999, or visit their Web site at www.pfaw.org