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Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker: I am proud to join many of my House colleagues today to present a strong voice in opposition to renewing Fast Track trade negotiating authority in any way, shape or form.
Fast Track allows the President to negotiate trade agreements without input from Congress. In addition, Congress is prohibited from amending any trade agreements reached under Fast Track authority.
Cynically repackaged as ``trade promotion authority' in 2002, under President Bush's watch, Fast Track has been utilized to unjustifiable ends. Wages are flat, our trade deficit has skyrocketed and good-paying manufacturing jobs have been lost by the thousands.
Increased imports from low-paid workers abroad, combined with threats made to workers by companies to move operations overseas, drive American workers' wages down. Through the 1950s and 1960s, the American middle-class grew and prospered. In 1973, the average U.S. worker made $16.06 an hour. Today, after adjusting for inflation, that same worker would make only $16.11 per hour.
In stark contrast to hourly wages, average U.S. worker productivity has nearly doubled over the same period. Clearly, the divide in America between the ``haves' and ``have-nots' is growing, and the richest few, along with multi-national corporations, are the big winners under our nation's flawed trade policy.
Up until 1973, the U.S. experienced relatively balanced trade, with small trade surpluses being the norm ($1.9 billion surplus in 1973). Since Fast Track was granted in 1974, the U.S. had a trade surplus in just one year (1975). Now, in 2006, our nation's trade deficit has skyrocketed to over $760 billion.
Our trade deficit has more than doubled since President Bush took office. For 2001, our trade deficit was $362 billion. Last year, our trade deficit reached yet another new record high at $764 billion.
Since WWII, good paying manufacturing jobs have been the driving force behind our nation's robust middle class allowing families to own homes, send their children to college and gain access to quality, affordable healthcare.
Since President Bush took office, the U.S. has lost 3 million manufacturing jobs. Michigan alone has lost 213,000 manufacturing jobs, or about one-quarter of the state's manufacturing jobs.
My record is clear. I voted against the Trade Act of 2002, which mistakenly granted this Administration ``trade promotion authority.' Now, it is time for Congress to put the brakes on the Bush Administration's failed trade policies and come to our senses to realize the damage done. First, we must not make matters worse. Congress should reject the pending free trade agreements with Peru, Colombia and Panama. My colleagues should not be misled. Fast track trade negotiating authority is not required to negotiate or approve free trade agreements.
Second, we need serious, thoughtful review of our nation's trade policies and their impact on wages, jobs and our trade balance. Pitting American industries against one another, political gamesmanship, and manipulation and sloganeering must come to an end so that Congress and the Administration should get down to business.
The United States is a world leader, and we must enact trade policies that truly encourage positive standards and quality of life for both the United States and our foreign partners. Reject renewal of Fast Track trade negotiation authority, so we can get back to sensible and fair trade policy.