January 23rd, 2008
10:20 AM ET
10 years ago

Real People, Real Issues: The NAFTA effect

The CNN Election Express is headed across the country.

The CNN Election Express is headed across the country.

ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS, Birmingham, Alabama (CNN) - The cost of diesel was $3.26 a gallon Wednesday at the Pilot Travel Center, but the biggest concern for independent trucker Charles Dye wasn’t the price of fuel. It was NAFTA.

When Dye first got behind the wheel of his rig eight years ago, the 28-year-old said he grossed $180,000. Last year, Dye said he made $65,000 before expenses - barely enough to live on as he ran roofing oil between Memphis, Tennessee and Savannah, Georgia. He is on the road 20 days a month.

Because he is an independent contractor, Dye has to purchase his own health insurance. Right now, he is not covered. Luckily, the mother of his four-year-old child does have insurance, which helps alleviate the financial burden.

The North American Free Trade Agreement, which loosened restrictions on goods and services between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, is to blame for the hit he is taking in the wallet, he said.

“It was hard for me to make a living last year other than the years before, because of the way they opened the borders and let the trucks come over and practically do work for nothing,” he said, as the gasoline flowed from the pump into his rig.

Dye wants the U.S. to restrict the number of Canadian and Mexican truckers from working in this country.

“They are cutting my throat to do my job for less pay,” he said.

Even though NAFTA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, Dye said the former president’s wife Hillary Clinton or her rival Barack Obama will get his vote this fall. I pressed him: Why would he back Clinton when her husband signed NAFTA into law?

“I made more money, and I believe in a Democrat more than I do a Republican,” said Dye, who lives in Arkansas. “That’s just my opinion. President Bush hasn’t showed me anything.”

- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. James Brown ( Independent )

    Obama is the smart choice , all Clinton would do is divide the country more then Bush has , and give us another do nothing Congress.

    January 23, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. therealist

    i. e. What has the country done for me lately??

    Typical dem response..

    January 23, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  3. Let it be known

    Clinton Gave us nafta and wto but don't forget:

    H1B Visa. – Clinton championed this program that allowed U.S. corporations to import high skilled foreign workers to replace American people for a fraction of the pay. Clinton allowed in hundreds of thousands of these replacement workers to the great benefit of a few superrich contributors.

    They have become multimillionaires serving only in public service. WHAT???

    The only way to do that is by being CORRUPT!!

    January 23, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. Let it be known

    The Clinton's take credit for the economy of the late 1990s. That was of course because of the Internet boom that started in 1995 and went bust in 2000. We all made a ton of money. Everybody paid income tax on that money. That influx to the treasury also led to an income bubble for the Government. At least on paper, we had a short-term balanced budget. BIG DEAL!! That was a fluke the Clinton's had nothing to do with.

    The Clinton's have proven to be a disaster for working people because of their policies.

    January 23, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  5. Chris, Middletown, CT

    James – you are right...but to stay on point – NAFTA was signed into law by the Clintons (started with Bush 1 I believe) – Perot pointed out what it would do to the country – and guess what...he was right....

    We need to have a sunset date on all agreements and laws (5 years) – and rather than have the Senate create new laws....we need to wipe out the ones that are NOT in the best interest of this country....NAFTA is one....the Clintons are the other one....please don't buy the Democrats rhetoric....Republicans are NOT evil....politicians incapable of answering a single question with a straight answer and former presidents who sold pardons for contributions to the Clinton Library...and sold ballistic missile technology to the Chinese are (btw....I'm talking about Clinton...and btw....its true...not rhetoric...like all the arguments Billary throw out)

    January 23, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    If Mr Dye is being hurt by NAFTA, it seems to me that it would be worth his time to consider supporting Ron Paul.

    January 23, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. Karen

    This is just one portion of this govt selling off/out this country. The govt sells our jobs (for corp profits), depresses our wages further with immigration and then taxes us to death. Now they are giving us back a little bit of our taxes and want us to go buy, buy, buy to maintain corp profits (so called stimulation packages).

    Bernanke has the nerve to come out and encourage Americans to buy American.

    I notice the economic discussion surrounds.... Dems want to give the poor some temporary money (pony up taxpayers). Repubs want to give the wealty more tax breaks (of course, they will use this to maintain growing profits before they would ever use it to maintain employment). None of these idiots want to make a change in trade policy, monetary policy or immigration etc. that could create jobs and maintain wages.

    I am especially excited to hear the Democratic ideas. Plan to create 'American' jobs 1. Start large govt infrastructure projects. 2. Refuse to enforce illegal immigration. 3. Hire cheap illegal labor (and force citizens to subsidize corp profits) to keep costs down.

    Wouldn't it be nice if they wanted to create jobs for American citizens (you know, those of us hanging out between Canada and Mexico) instead of screwing us again?

    January 23, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. To Let it be known

    You hit it on the head with your statement...... I for one was in the military during the Clinton years and they hardly gave us any raises. I fear for our military if Clintons get in again. And as far as the economy they were fortunate because of the Dot.Com boom once he was on his way out the economy wasnt looking so good but they will never tell you that.

    January 23, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. Darth Vadik, CA


    January 23, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. Lawana Davis

    Pat Buchanan is right! So is the trucker story at the top. NAFTA and CAFTA are bringing nothing but misery to our country. Our culture and the wonderful country is overrun with illegals. Our neighborhoods are becomming graffiti and junk strewn messes, our schools are crowded and the border is being taken over by drug lords. Why isn't our military on our borders? Heaven help us.

    January 23, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. Mary, Beaver, PA

    This is not a Republican vs. Democrat situation. The truth of the matter is that our leaders sell us out - pure and simple. The two-party system is just another ruse to divide us, the American people, and to distract us from the sad fact that we have and have had traitors in the highest offices in this country for many years.

    ANYONE who holds a political office in the United States and sells out the American people is a traitor. It doesn't matter to me how many times the hypocrite wraps himself /herself in the flag or proclaims his/her great patriotism.

    The American people have been blinded by BS. It's about time to take back our country.

    January 23, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. Domingo

    To "Let It Be Known",

    You say "H1B Visa. – Clinton championed this program that allowed U.S. corporations to import high skilled foreign workers to replace American people for a fraction of the pay. "

    Replacing Americans for a fraction of the pay? Highly skilled foreign workers are paid the same as highly skilled Americans. The H1B program was started because America doesn't have enough advanced math & science graduates to fill the needs of industry and research institutions. Don't hate the foreign workers who studied hard, learned english and left their homeland to work in the US. They add to our economy and to the fabric of America.

    January 23, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    Anything that gets in the way of "big business" to buy, move, sell products cheaper has been the rule.

    We have lost sight of an important principal for business–to create jobs and sustain communities. These ideals are rarely part of the current enterprise philosophy–people/communites are like raw materials–quickly and unceremoniously replaced or deleted as necessary.

    January 23, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. joe

    cnn favoritism towards obama is very obvious and damaging to obama

    January 23, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |

    I and 100 others lost our jobs to NAFTA when our plant was relocated to Mexico. My next job was lost when the plant was relocated to China and Canada. I agree we do better when a Democrat is in the leadership roles, however Bill Clinton brought about NAFTA. John Edwards is on our side. He will stop the loss of jobs out of the US. I am afraid if Clinton or Obama get into the White House, nothing will change except the colors of the states on election day. Edwards is the man for the job.

    January 23, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. Bob

    To: Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    I think Ron Paul has some good ideas and then some are so far off the wall it is scary. The man wants to disolve the IRS and close all bases that we currently have over seas and bring the troops home. I am in the military and from a strategic point of view that would be one of the dumbest ideas ever not to mention congress would never allow 80% of what he has proposed

    I think there comes a time in a political race you need to just say I better pick , someone else because I am throwing away my vote. Again, I think he has some good ideas but many of them would never happen.

    January 23, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. Mike

    Let's see...Clinton signed in NAFTA, he's hurt financially by NAFTA, so he'll vote for Clinton. Where does that kind of logic come from? Maybe they should call this guy Mr. Dye Hard.

    And we wonder why the country is in the state its in!!! Because Americans can't see the forest for the trees.

    Ask him if he knows about how the Clintons encourgaed outsourcing of US jobs to India and China, how they expanded the H-1 and L-1 visa programs to bring millions of cheaper foreign workers here to take computer, IT, and telecommunications jobs, and ask him if he knows about TATA Consulting, the #1 outsourcer of US jobs to India, that Hillary brought into New York. They employ 10 people in New York and they outsource $4 Billion in US jobs annually.

    I have the exact opposite response that Mr. Dye does. I am now an ex-IT professional, run out of the industry by the cheap foreigners, mainly from India, who have over-run it – Thanks to the Clintons. I now make less thanhalf what I did during the Clintons years. But I don't look back at the CLinton years and remember fondly how much money I made. I look now at the mess they created and wonder how we're going to fix it.

    And that's the #1 reason a Clinton will never get my vote under any circumstances whatsoever. I'll vote for McCain or any Republican first.

    January 23, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. martin curavuer

    It's NOT the '90's. Are Bill Clinton and Hillary going through a second Childhood, mid-life crisis? Somethings not so right there, they are lieing to the Voters! WHERE is the OUTRAGE??

    January 23, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. Ree01

    If Mr Dye is hurt by NAFTA,he should quit hauling cheap freight, Stop crying

    January 23, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. Gary, Detroit


    You are right. George H. Bush drafted the entire NAFTA Agreement near the end of his term and it was on Clinton's desk waiting for him to sign when he took office.
    They are both to blame.

    Go to CNN.com and read today's column by Lou Dobbs. He sums it up very neatly.

    January 23, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. Mike

    "Replacing Americans for a fraction of the pay? Highly skilled foreign workers are paid the same as highly skilled Americans. The H1B program was started because America doesn't have enough advanced math & science graduates to fill the needs of industry and research institutions. Don't hate the foreign workers who studied hard, learned english and left their homeland to work in the US. They add to our economy and to the fabric of America."

    These are the lies that the ITAA has been spreading for over 15 years. A study has been done and it was found that on average, foreogners from India and China make up to 40% less than their American counterparts. They do NOT get paid the same. This is why the companies clamour for them.

    The facts are that there is a glut of unemployed American computer, telecommunications, and IT professionals. I AM ONE OF THEM. I KNOW. And I have at least 15 friends who are, too. The ITAA is a PAC group that takes money from the biggest and most influential comanies in the industries: Sun Microsystems, IBM, Hewlitt Packard, Microsoft and many others, and has lobbied Congress with their money (read: paid them off) and has given Congress false data to support increasing foreign visa quotas and bringing in more of these workers.

    The colleges thing and lack of math and engineering students is nothing more a self-fulfilling prophecy. When kids see there are no jobs to be had in computers, telecommunications, or IT – of course they are not going to enroll in those programs in college! And if they did get one of these jobs, they need to speak Indian or Chinese.

    January 23, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  22. Futile

    Domingo.... you would be wrong. I am not sure where you get your information. There are numerous govt statistics regarding the wage depression of many of the categories regarding high skilled workers. No, they are not paid the same, I believe the average is $6000 a year less and they are depressing wages. Corporations are allowed to import workers whose education is subsidized by it's govt. Corp not only leech off of American taxpayers to subsidize their cheap imported labor, they suck off of the people in other countries.

    The cost of education in this country is incredible. This country refuses to educate it's people. Other countries subsidize their people's education and the corporations benefit.

    January 23, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. Annie

    The following is a quote from President Bill Clinton on 09-14-1993

    "Today we turn to face the challenge of our own hemisphere, our own country, our own economic fortunes. In a few moments, I will sign three agreements that will complete our negotiations with Mexico and Canada to create a North American Free Trade Agreement. In the coming months I will submit this pack to Congress for approval. It will be a hard fight, and I expect to be there with all of you every step of the way. (Applause.)

    We will make our case as hard and as well as we can. And, though the fight will be difficult, I deeply believe we will win. And I'd like to tell you why. First of all, because NAFTA means jobs. American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't support this agreement."

    Do we really need him (Oh yea, it is supposed to be Hillary) in the White House again?

    January 23, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  24. Nick

    $180,000 a year for driving a truck???? are you kidding me? Why do people go to college? law school? When we are paying people that much for a skill that doesn't take more than driving school (I'm not saying there isn't skill involved, but a vast majority of people can lean the skill) you can not compete on a global level. I'd call it a market correction and move on regardless of politics.

    January 23, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  25. Harry, NY NY

    To quote Bill Clinton as he championed NAFTA:

    "A global economy will bring more opportunities for the US worker."

    Let's be honest, the economic crisis started during the Clinton Administration. As US companies got the green light to offshore outsource and ship jobs out of the US, money left as well.

    It should be intuitive if US companies are now sending a portion of salaries outside the US, it should be expected that those foreign workers are going to spend their money in their own economies.

    For example, you think any of the employees in an AT&T call center in India are going to buy Fords? Or are they going to buy TATA people's cars?

    Sending all those salaries out of the US has hurt consumer spending as well as the amount of money that is available to circulate in this economy.

    January 23, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
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