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. brende

    QUOTE Chaunda

    In her time in the Senate Hillary Clinton has more than proved she can/ will work with Republicans. Lets talk about that not about 15 years ago. I certainly wasn't the same person 16 years ago and I do not plan to be the same person 16 years from now.

    So why is she after Obama for reffering to reps, not even praising their policies??

    January 23, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    To Anonymous and others:

    This story is not even about Hillary Clinton. It's about NAFTA. If that illicits criticism of the Clinton administration, then that's the way it goes. They aren't perfect and it seems like many of the readers act offended if a story doesn't outright praise them.

    January 23, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. The Great William Wallace is Ten Feet Tall!

    Let's see... who was it that signed NAFTA into creation? Who was it? Who could it be? Oh, yes, it was President William Jefferson Clinton, the husband of co-president and smartest-woman-in-the-world, Hillary Rodham-Rodham.

    But let's make sure we blame Republicans for this, because those evil black-hearted monsters are really and truly responsible for all that is wrong and bad in this world and other worlds as well, right?

    January 23, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. Replaced "skilled worker"

    To Domingo:
    Get a grip, no employer is going to overpay someone which they have hostage by a VISA. People overseas BEG to come here and work for 1/2 the pay that americans do.......why wouldn't they ? You need to look at their so called solution here . If they were so concerned about shortages of skilled workers, they would have thrown big $$ at colleges, etc. to increase out own internal workforce. The problem is, who opened the door for them ? Their solution was short sighted to say the least.

    January 23, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Southern Gal

    Thank you all for your great commentaries. I continue to learn a wealth of facts that I don't seem to getting from the candidates or the media.

    Keep on commenting!

    January 23, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. Seadne

    What was on display at the debate is why a lot of people simply do not like Hillary. She alone will continue and add to the divisiveness of this country. Hillary is a strong woman, wonderful; sure she is cabable, that however, does not make her not right for America, not today. She is too controversial to be the uniter this country deseprately needs. She displays `Washington as usual tactics' to get her way. Race nor gender will have a role in my decision. Yes, America, as a leader of the free world , is late to the party of having a woman lead the nation. Is Hillary the one? No, she planted ill seeds that have taken root and it will all become a briar patch should she make it to the White House.

    January 23, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. Stopwatchinghardball, Rochester, NY

    I'm still waiting for one negative story on Obama. Just one! That's all I'm asking. No one is that perfect unless the media wants you to be. Right CNN?

    January 23, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. Angel Valenzuela

    When is anyone really going to start talking about the danger of losing our democracy , let me pose just one question for many would be voters . As it stands now two families have shared the whitehouse as if it were a throne for Twenty Years . Bush then Clinton Then a Bush again , now let suppose that Hillary wins the Nomination which is the smart money currently . This would offer Nearly Thirty years of Two Families controling the white house , SOme children Have been born , raised , gone to school and started that cycle for children of thier own only Knowing the PResidency as the Clintons And Bushes , Isnt thier something fundamentally wrong with this idea , being that our country was founded by men whose Idea was to be free of an Aristocracy ?
    Americans have short term Memory and so does the media all of them want to talk about the glory days of the 90's , but isnt the former Clinton White house part of the reason the Republicans were able to take control of the White house , congress and Senate ? Wasn't it thier practice of politics that brought shame to the Dems , Isnt it the Clinton aversion to the truth what jas Lost us two Previous Elections and now we seem so ready to give the white house Back to them .No questions asked and No accountabilty . We seemed prepared to accept the Monarcy dont be suprised when " Peter Bush Gets Elected " And Then CHelsea clinton Whne are we to stop the MAddness of two family Monarcy ??
    Registered Democract Voting for any one who Hasnt been elected before .

    January 23, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. Sick and Tired, CA

    NAFTA et al. has not helped this country. All it has done is allow our lumber industry be replaced by Canadian lumber companies and hoards of light manufacturing and textile jobs have headed south of the border. Those companies who can't move are allowed to hire illegals from south of the border and our government casts a blind eye. Our neighborhoods have more and more graffiti, housing and apartments have mutiple families living in them, schools and school districts are being over-burdened with hoards of non-speaking students and non-speaking parents who pay no property tax (for the schools) since they are renters.

    Now we are being burdened with the European Union collaborating against us. The EU and Asia economies are uptight about our economic meltdown because we buy so many of our products from producers overseas and if we slow down our purchases (because we are so deep in personal debt) we will send their economies in a tailspin. In order to stay afloat, our banks are borrowing money or selling off chuncks of their business to investors from Asia.

    We don't even mow our own lawns or wash our own cars anymore. Heck I have to speak spanish to buy a hamburger from McDonalds.

    1992, Ross Perot came across as bazaar but he was right! We've done nothing but damage this country with our trade and economic policies of the last 17 years.

    Over the last 17 years, our elected officials have sold us out. The entire goal was to become one huge socialistic continent. All Clinton, Obama and Edwards want to do is redistribute the wealth via taxation and socialized medicine and retirement plans.

    As for the Republicans, Ron Paul , as bazaar as he seems to be, he appears to be the only honest straight shooter....lets get back to basics and live by the constitution.
    Of course we know what happen to the previous bazzar guy back in 1992.

    January 23, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. Kenny, Tulsa, OK

    To Domingo and Monika:

    On average, a H1B visa worker from India makes $1,200.00 less per year than the US worker made doing the same job. It's a fact. Look it up.

    January 23, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Murry

    Since Hillary loves to take credit for her husband's work she's welcome to take credit for NAFTA . Mr. Dye needs to vote one of the other Democrats on the ticket. Many Democratic bloggers and people I've met say they'd rather vote Republican than vote for Hillary. She says she will fight the Republicans; that means we'd have four years of bickering and no progress if she is elected.

    January 23, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. Patrick Kunc, Denver Colorado

    The idea of free trade is a good thing. If you are educated on the subject you will know that lowering tariffs and trade restrictions around the world in theory helps everyone. The problem is that when you're trading with a country that doesn't have the same wage, environmental, or quality standards that you're country has it is going to be cheaper to import goods from those countries. If NAFTA can be amended to raise Mexico's and Canada's environmental and wage standards to that of the United States than I'd be fine with it, otherwise it puts our workers at a competitive advantage. Can someone who is currenty for NAFTA please explain to me how it is supposed to help the USA? Maybe there is something I am missing?

    January 23, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. AJ, IL

    Stopwatchinghardball of Rochester, NY...

    You must be joking if you think media reports of having to keep setting the record straight that Obama is not a Muslim is positive stories for Obama. Instead of getting news media coverage for an uplifting political message or specific policy issues that Obama addressess, CNN political tickers constantly report on hot topics such as race and religion.

    January 23, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. Dan

    let it be known, that NAFTA was a Reagan proposal the Dems were the congressional leadership through the '80s and kept it out. Bill Clinton went for NAFTA with a republican congress (remember the contract on America?) in an attempt to work a deal for a balanced budget.

    Bush has certainly done a lot for the country. The largest debt in history, a bungled war for no reason (and lied about the reasons), and an economic stimulous package that is no more than an attempt to buy us off for $800. The last budget Bush tried to get through was sent back to him with a note saying that what he had sent was, essentially, jibberish and he needed to come up with a real budget.

    Since 1980 the Republicans have been in the White House for twenty years and the Democrats for eight. Do you really believe that all of our collective problems are a result of Bill Clinton?

    January 23, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  15. Concerned Mother and Grandma


    January 23, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. David

    Bill Clinton downsized our Military by 2 brigades.

    Thats why we are stretched to the limit now and soldiers are dying because of this.

    Also, Most soldiers will have to serve many tours of Duties in Iraq because there is no one to replace them.

    Bill, your new name is Dumbo!

    January 23, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  17. David

    Anonymous, Im sick of your comments.

    Maybe if Obama made dumb mistakes then CNN would write about them.

    Hillary and Bill used to get my vote. NOT ANYMORE!

    They lie too much. Im not a fool. But apparently you are!

    January 23, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  18. John

    If the economy is your concern and you would like to stop NAFTA, you should support the Republican Ron Paul.

    January 23, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. Tom Masters

    What kind of 'boo-hoo' story is this, what a dumb article.

    Poor attempt at 'relating' to the 'normal' people.

    January 23, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  20. Charles

    Not one of these canidates is going to do anything for the American people,soon as their voted in,they are bribed by big business and sell us out,Jobs run the american economy.we have been sold out by TRATIORS!

    January 23, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. S Williams, Tampa

    "Let it be known" – you are SO correct about the H1B VISAs!!!!!!

    The H1B VISA jobs pull down our wages and lay us off (mostly to Indian and Pakistani technology and medical fields.

    Hillary Clinton and Bill Gates are both pushing for NO limits on H1B VISAs. NO LIMITS!!!!

    What are they thinking????????????

    January 23, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  22. Brad

    NAFTA, another economic disaster created by the Clintons. He sold America out and his wife will do the same.

    January 23, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. ConsDemo

    This is such bs. The nation has added 20+ million jobs since NAFTA was enacted and wage rates are higher (on average) across the board. Protectionism is farce. Of course this trucker would have everyone else pay more to protect HIS job, but apparently other jobs that were created in the process don't matter.

    January 23, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  24. kay

    Vote for Romney. He's the only business man in the bunch.

    January 23, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  25. Amy

    I think that we should label Clintons' behaviors as "Clintonism" – his and her legacy in this country's politics. People say that it's Clinton's strategy to drag Obama into a fight. I say no. It's not that Clinton has a strategy; it is that they have no any other stratigies but blaming and attcking anyone on their way. The nasty, negative, and mean spirited approach they have showed is simply what they are. Do we need such a leadership in this country??

    January 23, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
1 2 3 4