ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE -- (House of Representatives - January 17, 2008)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Maine (Mr. Michaud) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. MICHAUD. Madam Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the workers at NewPage Corporation in Rumford, Maine, and Fraser Timber Limited in Ashland, Maine. These workers received some devastating news this week about job losses and layoffs. Fraser Timber Limited will lay off 70 workers on February 8, 2008 to June 1, 2008. NewPage Corporation announced a shutdown of a paper machine in Rumford as of February 25, 2008. This decision could impact approximately 60 to 70 jobs in Maine.
In Maine, we are all too familiar with an economic and trade policy that has devastated our manufacturing sector. As a mill worker for nearly 30 years at Great Northern Paper Company, I know how devastating this news is for these workers and their families. When this happens in small rural communities in Maine, it ripples through the economy and throughout the region.
When the House considers a potential economic stimulus package in the next few weeks, I'll keep the workers of NewPage and Fraser at the forefront of my mind. Any economic stimulus package the House considers must consider what's good for our workers and their industry. We must get back to fiscal discipline, yet provide the relief so many people in Maine need.
But if we are truly trying to reform our economy, we must also address the serious trade imbalance that's creating this job loss. It's no secret that trade has gotten the better of Maine's manufacturing industry. Since passage of NAFTA, Maine has lost 23 percent of our manufacturing base.
Today the USTR Trade Representative Susan Schwab said that moving forward on these trade agreements will actually help our economy. Well, I can tell you this, she obviously hasn't talked to the men and women of NewPage and Fraser. She hasn't talked to other workers in Maine and across this country that have been devastated by these NAFTA-style trade deals. These workers don't want more TAA. They want their jobs back.
I've been in touch with the Maine Department of Labor Rapid Response Team, the workers at the mills, to discuss the implication of this, the paper machine shutting down on these workers. In the days and weeks ahead, my office will be working to provide whatever assistance is necessary to help these workers get back to work. But they want their jobs.
Mainers have rallied for each other during difficult times in the past and will do so again. I'll continue to be involved in meeting the needs of our workers affected by this announcement, and I'll stay in close contact with plant officials and workers in the days ahead.
But this Congress has to look at the fundamental problem with our flawed trade models and trade deals that we've been passing in this Congress. And this Congress is no different than the previous Congress. We continue to use the same flawed trade model, and that's going to continue to hurt workers and manufacturing businesses here in this country.
This Congress has to wake up to what's actually happening out there. We will not need any economic stimulus package if we make sure that we pass fair trade deals that are good for our workers here, that are good for our businesses here in this country.