We know bad trade deals have cost millions of American jobs. We have a jobs crisis with no growth in site. So, why in God's name would Congress pass more of the same? The South Korean trade deal has been analyzed to lose 159,000 jobs. The Panama trade agreement creates corporate tax havens that will be completely out of reach by the United States. Add in the Columbia trade deal and we've lost 214,000 jobs.
The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee held a hearing, aptly titled, Manufacturing in the USA: How U.S. Trade Policy Offshores Jobs. The title says it all, eh? Unfortunately the actual hearing didn't have the right economists who would show amply with statistics and facts, the overall hearing title is oh so true.
Contained within is the obligatory other side of multinational corporations, and the real agenda of this hearing is some token retraining for U.S. workers who will lose their jobs as a result of these bad trade deals.
Workers are not alone in wondering why our government sells us once again down the river on jobs. Small businesses, especially small U.S. manufacturers are asking the same question.
A sizable number of domestic manufacturers, however, have sided against the chamber over Korea. For one, the US Business and Industry Council, an association of small and midsize firms founded in 1933, is strongly opposed to the deal. "We can't imagine that KORUS would serve current US economic interests," says Alan Tonelson, a research fellow with the council.
Ditto Ian Fletcher, senior economist with the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA)—a collection of business, labor, and agriculture interests whose petition against the Korea deal has been signed by scores of companies. He says the pact's boosters willfully ignore how similar agreements have gutted American manufacturing. "They just kind of airbrush it out of the picture and don't talk about it very much," Fletcher says. "Like sex in a Victorian family."
Ian Fletcher really is notes the hypocrisy:
Even the official U.S. International Trade Commission has admitted that KORUS-FTA will cause significant job losses. And not just in the low-end industries we are told are the sole casualties of freer trade: the ITC foresees the electronic equipment manufacturing industry, with average wages of $30.38 in 2008, as a major victim.
Paradoxically, Obama provably knows all this. He campaigned against KORUS-FTA during the 2008 campaign. (It was originally negotiated, but not ratified, by Bush in 2007.) Among other things, Obama said:
I strongly support the inclusion of meaningful, enforceable labor and environmental standards in all trade agreements. As president, I will work to ensure that the U.S. again leads the world in ensuring that consumer products produced across the world are done in a manner that supports workers, not undermines them.
Nice words. Unfortunately, none of them are reflected in KORUS-FTA, which contains no serious new provisions on these issues.
This agreement, like NAFTA, is fundamentally an offshoring agreement. That is, it is about making it easier for U.S.-based multinationals to move production overseas with confidence in the security of their investments in overseas plants. The provisions to protect workers and consumers are unenforceable window dressing. (That’s why they're allowed to be in there.)
As an example of how one-sided the treaty is, consider that it will allow America to export 75,000 cars a year to Korea. This translates to about 800 jobs. Korea's exports of cars to the U.S. in 2009, on the other hand? Over 475,000.
Furthermore, even if the U.S. does get to sell more cars in Korea, American companies will mostly not be making the steel, tires, and other components that go into them, because the agreement allows cars with 65 percent foreign content to be considered American. Worse, it allows goods with as much as 65 percent non-South-Korean content to count as Korean, opening the door not only to North Korean slave labor but to the whole of China.
Even leaving aside trade-balance issues, this agreement is a legal disaster thanks to so-called “investor-state arbitration.” This subjects American democracy to having its laws overruled by foreign judges as interfering with trade. To date under NAFTA, over $326 million in damages has been paid out by governments as a result of challenges to natural resource policies, environmental protection, and health and safety measures.
There about 80 Korean corporations, with about 270 facilities around the U.S., that would thereby acquire the right to challenge our laws.
Public Citizen also is calling Obama out:
By asking Congress to approve three NAFTA-style trade deals signed by former President George Bush, President Barack Obama has completely flip-flopped on his campaign promises to fix America’s failed trade policy and has cast his lot against the majority of the American people who oppose more of these job-killing deals.
At a time of 9 percent unemployment and broad public opposition to more NAFTA-style trade agreements, it’s a fairly shocking shift away from the president’s job-creation message to suddenly call on Congress to pass three old Bush trade deals that the federal government’s own studies say will increase the U.S. trade deficit.
Economy in Crisis highlighted some Senator Casey interview statements:
America’s failed trade policies could result in the loss of almost one-quarter of all American jobs over the next twenty years or so, according to Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).
During an interview with CNBC, Casey said that over the next two decades, up to 40 million American jobs are in danger of being outsourced due to America’s trade policies.
“We’ve already lost over 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2001,” he told CNBC.
“And it’s not just manufacturing jobs that are being offshored – we know that legal services and information service jobs are moving overseas.”
Senator Bernie Sanders also held a hearing on poverty. That is where our U.S. middle class has gone, in part due to globalization, labor arbitrage and a weakening economy due to a never ending increasing trade deficit.
They put together some snippets from the hearing which quote various Republicans in absolute, pure denial on the increasing poverty and despair in America. You must watch this video to see the amazing comments, it's so bad, Rand Paul doesn't even realize he's embarrassing and talking about himself.
The actual point of the hearing is to show poverty is literally giving people a death sentence. People literally cannot afford health care and even food to keep them healthy and alive.
Supposedly the House and Senate will pass these bad trade deals next Wednesday, after U.S. workers get a token of crap called retraining after their job is offshore outsourced. This is known as TAA, or trade adjustment assistance. Pretty ridiculous isn't it? To labor arbitrage Americans and then act like they did this great deed to offer a few useless classes for skills in jobs which do not exist.
These deals sailed through committee and are expected to pass. Just astounding, we have the entire country erupting in protests over economic injustice, opposition to these NAFTA style trade deals crosses the partisan divide and most people do not want them. Every election the one who promises to reform trade, cancel NAFTA, seems to win. Yet here we are, with seemingly smooth sailing to ratify even more bad trade agreements that hurt workers here and abroad, allow murder and even legitimize corporate tax havens.