WASHINGTON — REP. Lee Hamilton (D) of Indiana says selling the North American Free Trade Agreement to Congress and the voters is going to be "tough." But in the end, he predicts, "we will approve it."
Representative Hamilton, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told a breakfast meeting of reporters Thursday that there is little enthusiasm for NAFTA among his constituents.
"You stand with me at an Indiana plant gate, and 1 of 4 say, `Don't vote for NAFTA,' " he says. "NAFTA has become a symbol for the working person of the export of jobs abroad."
Even so, Hamilton says President Clinton's support for the pact, which was negotiated by former President Bush, has grown steadily stronger.
The congressman says that while 500,000 low-skill jobs may be lost in the United States because of the agreement, the net impact for the country will be a plus because other jobs will be gained. But Hamilton concedes that substantial numbers of Democrats oppose the deal.
Turning to Bosnia, Hamilton says diplomatic momentum is swinging in favor of the Russian-European strategy. They would gradually apply the Vance-Owen peace plan to divide the former Yugoslavia into ethnic enclaves.
Asked whether President Clinton has waffled on Bosnia, Hamilton said: "Who hasn't? All of us have waffled on it."
While there is sentiment in Washington for rolling back "Serbian aggression," Hamilton says that would require 400,000 to 500,000 troops. None of the Western allies, including the United States, is willing to commit that level of resources in the foreseeable future, he said.