(Alexandria, VA) -- As Members of Congress prepare to vote on the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), they should take heed of the treaty's economic benefits for American consumers and taxpayers, not propaganda spread by special interests. That's the message two dozen federal, state, and local, citizen, taxpayer, and policy groups sent in an open letter to lawmakers today. The 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) organized the coalition statement.
"Coast to coast and across America's heartland, citizens are calling on Congress to clear away obstructions to freer trade by voting 'yes' on CAFTA," said NTU President John Berthoud. "Reducing tariffs, which are essentially hidden taxes on American consumers, will result in lower prices at the cash register and a higher standard of living for U.S. families."
The concern that pressure from special interests may entice Congress Members to vote against the well-being of American taxpayers is reflected in the breadth of the coalition NTU assembled in support of the statement. In addition to national organizations -- such as Council for Citizens Against Government Waste and American Legislative Exchange Council -- citizen and taxpayer groups from 12 states offered their support. Among the state signatories were: Arkansas Taxpayers' Rights Committee, Citizens Against Higher Taxes (Pennsylvania), Kansas Taxpayers Network, Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, and United Californians for Tax Reform.
"Breaking down artificial trade barriers will mean some change and dislocation," the letter acknowledged. "[B]ut as economists across the ideological spectrum have demonstrated, freer trade means more jobs, higher economic growth, and improved standards of living."
The coalition letter cited an econometric analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which showed CAFTA would result in $3.9 billion of expanded U.S. sales to the area and a net gain of 26,000 new jobs, as evidence that the treaty would also benefit workers and businesses. The signatories ended the letter by noting: "Defeat of CAFTA will be a great disappointment and a signal that protecting special interests is more important to this Congress than doing what is right for America."
"Contrary to the misinformation spread from those who are eager to evade free-market competition, U.S. taxpayers and consumers are the real casualties of protectionist policies," Berthoud concluded. "Today, millions of Americans in communities across the nation have reminded their lawmakers that a vote against CAFTA is a vote against their best interests."
NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and more accountability from elected officials. Note: The text of the coalition letter, a list of signatories, and other materials concerning free trade issues are available online at www.ntu.org.