A shift of opinion in her congressional district on the North American Free Trade Agreement helped nudge U.S. Rep. Jan Meyers from vehement opposition to support of the trade pact, the congresswoman said Monday in Lawrence.
Early mail on NAFTA was 40-1 against the pact linking the United States, Mexico and Canada, but in the weeks leading up to the vote in the House of Representatives, "people began to focus on NAFTA and what it would mean in terms of business and opportunities," Mrs. Meyers told the Rotary Club. "The positive mail came in very, very heavily."
Mrs. Meyers, an Overland Park Republican whose district includes Lawrence, said she also was concerned about the possibility that if Congress rejected NAFTA, Mexico might forge a trade pact with Europe "and lock us out."
In addition, Mrs. Meyers said she was reassured that the Mexican government would focus on raising wages and environmental standards, which will lessen the chance of U.S. industries fleeing south of the border.
"In the past, wages in Mexico have been set by a few wealthy families," she said. "Salinas (Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari) is committed to tying wages to productivity."
Mrs. Meyers also discussed the similarities and differences in various congressional health-care reform plans and President Clinton's plan.
The plans share some characteristics, including creating large insurance pools to spread risk for small businesses, making health insurance portable from job to job, simplified billing and developing an emphasis on good health habits, such as quitting smoking, she said.
But Clinton's plan mandates health insurance coverage for everyone and creates a subsidy system that could cost U.S. taxpayers $350 billion to $700 billion between now and the year 2000, Mrs. Meyers said.